In Germany, there is a saying that one who cheats death, either through luck or resourcefulness, has jumped off the devil's shovel. Renate Ruzich is such a woman.
Renate grew up as the daughter in an aristocratic family in East Prussia, Germany, on an estate that had been in her family for five hundred years. In 1945, at the age of eighteen, she had to join millions of refugees trying to flee from the approaching Soviet Army. Separated from her family two days into their flight, she had only her horse as companion as she struggled westward. During that brutal winter, Renate experienced horrors, deprivations, and looked the devil in the eye many times. In a sea of cruelty, she also witnessed flashes of humanity that gave her the hope she needed to persevere.
Mrs. Ruzich did more than just survive the hell of war; she built a new life in the ashes of the old. She even found the love of her life, Rudy, with whom on a clear, sunny morning in 1953, she steamed past the Statue of Liberty into New York's harbor.
Renate Ruzich continues to thwart the devil to this day. She has survived a broken back after being thrown from a horse; has beaten kidney, colon, and skin cancer; and has persevered after the loss of her beloved Rudy. Most recently, she survived an automobile accident at the age of eighty-seven.
Today Renate lives a quiet life near her beloved Blue Ridge Mountains in Orange, Virginia. She just celebrated her ninetieth birthday. She decided to tell her story that those who have been spared the horrors of war will understand its consequences.