Holocaust survivor: I was so hungry I would eat the grass

By Ava

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- There's not a spot inside Diny Adkins house where the 74-year-old is not reminded of the message of peace, she's made her life's mission to spread.

"I want everybody to love each other. I pray for peace every night," said Adkins.

Adkins message of peace was shaped from a time when evil tore her family apart, more than 70 years ago in Holland.

"I had a good and happy life before the war," said Adkins.

Adkins says in 1942, the Nazis kicked her family out of their home. She recalls moving into a ghetto in Amsterdam where she watched as babies were torn from their parent's arms then shot.

"We couldn't take the screaming and the shootings anymore. Everybody and the old people decided for us to go on our own, there was a better chance for us to survive," says Adkins.

At the age of four Adkins said goodbye to her parents and was sent to live in the woods.

"I cried a lot, I have to admit that because I was so very hungry when I was there and I ate grass and I imagined it was spinach," said Adkins.

She took one piece of home with her - a doll called Anneke Pop.

"I cried with her in my arms, I laughed with her, you know she went to every place that I went," says Adkins.

After surviving the woods, she says she lived with an abusive nun who hid her in a closet.

"One time she beat me so bad my nose broke. That's one thing I can remember," says Adkins.

Adkins says eventually she was sent to live with another abuser, the nun's brother. She says he would sexually abuse her.

"He told me many times if I didn't do what he said to do, then he would take me to a camp and after awhile he did take me to a camp," says Adkins.

Adkins says she survived two concentration camps and was eventually reunited with her mother and father who she no longer recognized. She says after years of therapy she decided her mission would be to help veterans like her American husband.

"I knew what I was doing because I could feel their pain, I could feel my husband's pain because he's a Vietnam veteran," says Adkins.

Now Adkins shares her story of survival with students in the Charleston area.

"It is something that I want the world to know what a war is, also I see it as therapy for me," says Adkins.

Adkins will share her story of survival at the Palms of Mount Pleasant, Monday, Oct. 29 at 2 p.m. in the auditorium. Admission is free.