Read reflections and testimonies written by Holocaust survivors in their own words.

  • Manfred’s Last Letter

    During the Nazi occupation of Belgium, the mail played an essential role in my family’s life. Letters were practically the only means for members of my family who were living in hiding to keep in touch with each other. The receipt of a letter signified the writer was safe, at least at the time it was mailed or handed over to a non-Jewish person for mailing. 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 12harry markowicz

  • Leaving Nazi Germany

    In 1938, my family was living in Berlin while the Nazis were intensifying the repression and violence against Jews. Late that summer, my father took my two siblings on a train to Aachen, a spa city near the borders of Belgium and the Netherlands. My sister, Rosi, was ten years old and my brother, Mani, was a year younger. I was just one year old, so my mother and I stayed home. During the train ride, Rosi shared with Mani what she had overheard at home: this was not a vacation as they had been told. As a matter of fact, they were going to Aachen to cross the border into Belgium. 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 12harry markowicz

  • Post–Korea

    I went into the army shortly after we moved in Brooklyn from a small apartment on the corner of Thirty-Sixth Street and Flatbush Avenue to a more spacious house on Fifty-Ninth Street off King’s Highway and Remsen Avenue. This move accommodated my sister’s family who had recently emigrated from Israel to live with us. When I left the United States Army and my military pay ceased, and with my mother now a widow, I needed to find employment. I took my time looking for a job after mustering out from active duty in the early days of summer 1954. I felt unsettled and took aptitude tests offered by B’nai B’rith to identify paths to my future. These tests showed a distinct and significant predilection to music, although I never studied or played any instruments. I knew absolutely nothing about music except that I loved listening to it, especially symphonies, chamber music, and operas. 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 12michel margosis

  • Hiding/Onderduiken

    When I was little, I had no idea what hiding meant, not even the game of hide-and-seek, so loved by children. The terms going “into hiding,” being “in hiding,” or “hiding place” were not part of my vocabulary. Even going outside for the first time, when I was almost three years old, I did not associate it with having been in hiding. 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 12louise lawrence israëlslouise lawrence-israëls

  • Ghetto

    One of my favorite places to visit is Venice, Italy. Perhaps because I lived in Amsterdam for so many years, the water in and around Venice makes me feel connected to the city. 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 12louise lawrence israëlslouise lawrence-israëls

  • My Journey to America

    Oders of soot and salt water fill the air. It is November 1948. I am seven years old. My dziadzio (grandfather, in Polish) has sent me to America for a “better life” than the one we had in the Robert Tyler Displaced Persons Camp in Linz, Austria, where he, my babcia (grandmother, in Polish), and I had been living in one room in an unheated, wooden barrack without indoor plumbing or running water. By “better life,” he meant a life of safety, shelter, and plentiful food for me. 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 12julie keefer

  • To Be a Free People in Our Land

    As long as the Jewish spirit is yearning deep in the heart, 
    With eyes turned toward the East, looking toward Zion, 
    Then our hope—the two-thousand-year-old hope—will not be lost: 
    To be a free people in our land, 
    The land of Zion and Jerusalem. 
    “Hatikvah” (National Anthem of Israel) 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 12peter gorog

  • Millennials and the Holocaust

    Headlines from the American media in April 2018 after a Holocaust-related survey was published: 

    “Holocaust study: Two-thirds of millennials don’t know what Auschwitz is” (Washington Post, April 12, 2018) 

    “4 in 10 millennials don’t know 6 million Jews were killed in Holocaust, study shows” (CBS News, April 12, 2018) 

    “Holocaust Is Fading From Memory, Survey Finds” (New York Times, April 12, 2018) 

    “The Startling Statistics About People’s Holocaust Knowledge” (NPR, April 14, 2018) 

    “Why We’re Forgetting the Holocaust” (New York Post, April 15, 2018) 

    “Study Shows Americans are Forgetting about the Holocaust” (NBC News, April 12, 2018)

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 12peter gorog

  • History Repeating Itself

    On May 5, 2019, I was one of two speakers at a Yom Hashoah commemoration in Denver, Colorado. The gathering could not have been more timely. When I saw the printed program for the first time the day before, I was glad to see that someone had titled my presentation, “Surviving Mass Genocide. Anti-Semitism; History Repeating Itself.” Great title, although I thought I might have put a question mark at the end, as I was not ready to make such an affirmative statement. I would have raised it as a question: “Is History Repeating Itself?” 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 12peter gorog

  • Dreams

    June, 1944. My family was in a concentration camp; my mother, Rosalia, my sister Shosha, 13 years old, and me, Agi, 14 years old. My father, Zoltan, had died a few months earlier, on the same day that the Germans occupied Hungary. 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 12agi geva