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

  • Elie Wiesel

    The first time I saw Elie Wiesel was on television in France in 1967. In the wake of the Six-Day War, a French network presented a program that consisted of a screening of Otto Preminger’s movie Exodus, based on Leon Uris’s novel, followed by a debate between three Jews and three Arabs. At that time, there was so much tension between the two sides that the Arabs wouldn’t even agree to sit in the same studio with the Israelis. On the Israeli side was a man who stood up and left, arguing that he had once been treated like he was subhuman in Auschwitz, and he refused to accept the same insulting treatment again. That man was Elie Wiesel, and today, 50 years later, I am still in awe of his dignity. The other two men on the Israeli side remained so that there could be a debate.

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 11albert garih

  • Interview with Polish TV

    On January 27, 2018, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Polish government passed a bill that would make it illegal to accuse the Polish nation or Polish people of complicity in Nazi war crimes. 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 11marcel drimer

  • My Paternal Grandparents

    My maternal Bubbe and Zeyde (Yiddish for grandmother and grandfather) died before I was born, so I want to write about the grandparents who I knew—my father’s parents.

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 11ruth cohen

  • A New Era Arrived

    In 2011 I was surprised to get an email from someone in Philadelphia asking me to get in contact with a Mr. Thomas Walther, an attorney in Germany. He was one of two main prosecutors of World War II criminals active at that time. When we finally talked, he asked me if I would be willing to join a group of Auschwitz survivors who were being asked to fill out testimonials stating that Oscar Groening had been the bookkeeper in Auschwitz during the time I was there. He did not promise a positive outcome of the trial but promised that they would put their best effort forward.

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 11ruth cohen

  • The Cello in My Life

    Music has always been a large part of my life. I recall, when I was perhaps six years old, my mother would play songs on the piano from “Blanche Neige et les sept Nains” (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs), and my sister and I would sing along.

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 11jacqueline mendels birn

  • Daily Miracles That Saved the Mendels Family

    It was a miracle that while my father continued going to his office after the “Aryanization” of his business with his Jewish star on, he was not arrested and taken away to an internment camp between May 1941, when Jews were first rounded up, and the end of July 1942, when we fled.

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 11jacqueline mendels birn

  • Life Is Good

    Ruth Cohen, from Mukachevo, Czechoslovakia, was first imprisoned with her sister in Auschwitz in April 1944, then several other concentration and work camps beginning in October of the same year.

    Tags:   ruth cohenechoes of memory, volume 9

  • Tears

    My brother and I heard shouting and loud noises all around us. He was five years old and I was three. We had lived a very quiet life for two and a half years between our safe walls.

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 4louise lawrence-israëlslouise lawrence israëls

  • Betrayed

    It is 1948. I am seven years old. The sun is shining, violets perfume the air, tall grasses sway in the breeze, and the sun warms my face. I am holding hands with Dziadzio and Babcia. I’m skipping. I am alternately smiling and giggling when I hold up my arms and force Dziadzio and Babcia to carry me. Dziadzio is home from the hospital in the Alps. I am happy. I feel safe. Suddenly, my eyes are drawn toward a high, metal fence like the ones used in prisons but without the studded, rolled wire on top.

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 10julie keefer

  • Were They Crazy?

    “Are you crazy?” was the most frequently heard question by my parents from those who learned that my mother was pregnant with me. Under normal circumstances, no one should pose this question when a new child is about to be born. But, those were not normal circumstances, and neither was the time nor the place. The time was fall 1940; the place was Budapest, Hungary; and my parents were Jewish. In defense of those who questioned the sanity of my parents, here are some reasons why this question was not completely out of place.

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 10peter gorog