Charlene Schiff (born Shulamit Musia Perlmutter) is the daughter of Fruma Lieberman (b. 1905) and Simkha Perlmutter (b. 1900). She was born on December 16, 1929, in Horochow, Poland, 50 miles northeast of Lvov. Her older sister, Tchiya, was born in 1925. Her father taught philosophy at the university in Lvov, and mother was an educator and ran summer camps for poor children from the town of all religions. Both parents were civic leaders of the town of Horochow. Simkha Perlmutter's mother and five sisters immigrated to the United States before the start of the war. He planned to join them as well. He even had traveled to Warsaw to obtain the necessary papers but the war's outbreak rendered any immigration plans impossible. In September 1939 Germany invaded Poland, and three weeks later the Soviet Union occupied eastern Poland, including Horochow and Lvov. Soviet rule did not change the family's life very much. They remained in their home, and Prof. Perlmutter continued to at the university. However, Shulamit's school was now taught in Russian. In the summer of 1941 the Germans invaded the Soviet Union and set up a ghetto in Horochow. Soon afterwards the Germans rounded up and killed 300 prominent Jews including, Shulamit's father. Her mother and sister were conscripted for slave labor and worked digging ditches. One day several well-dressed Germans came into their house to examine, inventory and confiscate Prof. Perlmutter's library. About two weeks later, all Jews had to move to a ghetto. Before they moved, Fruma Perlmutter sewed some coins into their winter coats which they brought with them in addition to winter boots. They shared one room with three other families in a three story, one bathroom building housing about 100 people. Fruma and Tchiya continued to work, but children under 14 were exempt. However, as only workers received rations, Shulamit's mother and sister shared their food with her. Occasionally Charlene snuck out of the ghetto to steal food, but mother didn't want her to do this for fear she would get caught. For a brief time Shulamit attended a clandestine school which her mother organized, but for most of the time in the ghetto the children were left on their own during the day. In 1942 after hearing rumors that the ghetto was about to be destroyed, Fruma contacted non-Jewish friends to find hiding places. She couldn't find anyone who would take all three of them, so she found one spot for Tchiya and another for her and Shulamit. Tchiya left the ghetto one morning and it seemed that everything went according to plan. When Germans started arriving to the ghetto, and Shulamit and her mother fled. Three sides of the ghetto were fenced in, but a river boarded the fourth side. Together with many other Jews, they fled into the river and hid in the underbrush by the shore. Ukrainian auxiliaries fired into the river to kill as many escapees as they could. Shulamit and her mother hid, submerged in the water, all night while machine guns blazed in the ghetto. Shulamit eventually dozed off, but when she awoke she found that her mother vanished. Shulamit never saw her mother again and never learned what happened to her. She made her way alone to the farmer who had agreed to hide them, but when she arrived he told her that he changed his mind. Shulamit then went to nearby forests hoping to find her mother. Shulamit spent the rest of the war living in the forests near Horochow. That autumn she found a group of six other Jews who had also escaped from ghettos near the edge of the forest. However soon they were spotted by a group of children. They therefore hid in a large haystack. Soon the children returned with large group of adults who began piercing the haystacks with pitchforks. Though they never found Shulamit, the following day she discovered the corpses of all the other Jews lying in a row by the haystack. Shulamit survived on her own for the next two years eating whatever she could find including insects and rats. At night she slept in graves which she dug for herself. She was lying in one of these graves when she was discovered by Russian soldiers who liberated her and nursed her back to health. After recuperating, Shulamit returned to Poland and eventually made her way to the Foehrenwald displaced persons' in Germany. No other members of her family survived. She learned that her sister was captured, paraded naked and murdered within days of the liquidation of the ghetto. She never learned precisely how her parents perished. Despite the fact that Shulamit made contact with her grandmother and other relatives in the United States, she had to wait three years for a visa. She finally immigrated to Columbus, Ohio, to live with relatives. At Ohio State University, she met her husband Erwin (Ed) Schiff. Ed, born and raised in Brooklyn, enlisted in the Army after Pearl Harbor. After serving in the Pacific during WWII, Ed was recalled to the service during the Korean War and completed several tours in Vietnam. Ed was employed by the Army for the rest of his professional life.