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

  • America under Attack

    About 60 years ago my mother and I arrived in the United States. As we ate breakfast on the SS Rijndam, tears welled up as we had our first long-anticipated view of the Statue of Liberty. To us, America was “The New World,” a country where everyone had the opportunity to thrive, a country that welcomed the stranger, a country with none of the narrow-mindedness and antisemitism that persisted in Europe even after the Holocaust. As we stood at the railing waiting for our turn with the immigration officer, we marveled at the heavy protective gloves worn by dockworkers as they unloaded huge crates, and at the cups of coffee they were served on the loading platforms when it came time for a break. Surely this was the real workers’ paradise!

    Tags:   alfred münzerechoes of memory, volume 13

  • Yahrzeit

    Yahrzeit is the Jewish yearly observance of a loved one’s death. Traditionally, we light a candle at home and recite the kaddish in the synagogue in their memory. I learned the words of the kaddish sometime in 1950 when I was eight or nine, shortly after my mother found out the precise date of my father’s death—July 25, 1945, which translated to the Hebrew date 15 Av—in what had been the Ebensee concentration camp. I have observed the ritual ever since. The kaddish makes no reference to mourning but is a reaffirmation of our faith in the Almighty despite our loss.

    Tags:   alfred münzerechoes of memory, volume 13

  • Uncle Emil

    My parents came from large families. I do not know the exact number of their siblings, but each had at least six. There was only one known survivor of the Holocaust among my mother’s brothers and sisters—her oldest brother, my uncle Adolf or Abraham. He managed to leave Germany and get to Bolivia with his wife, my aunt Helen, and their son, Norbert, my only cousin who survived the Holocaust, who sadly is now deceased. And I do not know of any survivors among my father’s brothers and sisters.

    Tags:   alfred münzerechoes of memory, volume 13

  • Arthur and Helga

    All I know about my early life comes from photographs and the stories my mother told me. Yesterday, I received a photograph I had never seen before. It opened a whole new chapter, and it left me stunned and speechless. It is the earliest picture I have of me together with my mother. The photo was one of many I received in an email from an unremembered friend, Arthur Friederizi.

    Tags:   alfred münzerechoes of memory, volume 13

  • Tommy Guns and Other War Toys

    Following the liberation of Belgium in September 1944, my parents, siblings, and I came out of hiding and our lives started returning to normal. As a child born shortly before the start of World War II, my memory of a “normal” life was very limited. We got back together as a family and soon after moved into a row house at 33 rue Paul Leduc, in a quiet neighborhood of Brussels where we knew no other Jews. Whether that was a choice or happenstance, I don’t know.

    Tags:   harry markowiczechoes of memory, volume 13

  • The Matchmaker

    It’s Wednesday afternoon. As usual, Albert and I are sitting at the Donor and Membership Desk at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. As volunteers, we help visitors fill out membership applications, and we accept donations to the Museum. As survivors, our main responsibility is to hand out copies of our brief biographies and answer questions related to our Holocaust experiences.

    Tags:   harry markowiczechoes of memory, volume 13

  • Uncle Abram

    I was born in Berlin in 1937. The following year, shortly before Kristallnacht, my father arranged for my family to be smuggled across the border into Belgium. We were very close to Uncle Abram—my mother’s brother—and his family. Their apartment was around the corner from ours in Berlin, and they also crossed the border illegally into Belgium around the same time.

    Tags:   harry markowiczechoes of memory, volume 13

  • And You, Where Are You From?

    In August 1972, I moved from British Columbia to Washington, DC, to pursue my graduate studies in linguistics at Georgetown University. It was a last-minute decision following a phone call from the chairman of the Georgetown French department offering me a position as a lecturer. However, classes were starting just six days later, and I had 24 hours to decide whether to accept or turn down the position. It was one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make. It started my life on a new course, one I could not have imagined back then.

    Tags:   harry markowiczechoes of memory, volume 13

  • The Bridge

    The prettiest bridge I have ever seen is the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

    Tags:   halina yasharoff peabodyechoes of memory, volume 13

  • Democracy Shattered

    We I came to the United States, I was 16 years old, and I went religiously to night school, anxious to learn everything about my new adopted country such as the language, the Bill of Rights, etc. Mrs. Durst, my teacher, was a very nice person and a good teacher. She stressed the greatness of the Constitution and the “Four Freedoms.” As time went on, she suggested I read the New York Times to improve my language skills. By that time, I spoke four languages and was able to read and write in all of them.

    Tags:   martin weissechoes of memory, volume 12