In the darkest days of the 20th century, as the shadow of the hallow kauft fell across europe, for a few jewish families in a little ukrainian village, the courage of one woman was the difference between life and death for her two sons. If I wouldn't have this type of mother, I wouldn't be alive.
Reporter: Esther stermer, mother of six, understood that to save her family, she would have to do something unimaginable. We had a very smart mother. She told us, “whatever they tell you to do, do the opposite.
” Reporter: Saul and sam stermer remember how their mother ester took them and four other families underground. 38 jewish men, women, and children, would spend a year and 146 days deep inside two vast caves. They lived in darkness, in fear of being discovered.
One man from each family would sneak out at night, risking his life to forage for food. They build showers, and lat reins and collected drinking water in a lake inside the cave.
They made the dark abyss a home.
You were in paradise. Reporter: You were in the cave but free. Free.
Free. WE WERE FREE MEN. Reporter: Finally, in may 1944, the russian army liberated the area and the five families, 38 jews, came back into the light, back into li on earth.
That ordeal, living underground for 500 days and more, how did it shape your life, the life that you did survive to live? We were just happy to survive, and then, life started to turn normal. This is a completely different story.
Because it was a happy ending. Reporter: In 2010, for the film, saul and sam, now 92 and 86, returned to the cave. Now, I know where I am.
Let's close all the lights for a minute. Ahh, now I feel good. Reporter: And deeper into the darkness, a symbol of their resilience, where the families etched their names in the rock to signal to the world, we are here. Here iam! Reporter: Today these 38 survivors now have more than 125 children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, reminding us of a hebrew blessing, which means “more life. ” Their reward when they came out of the darkness.