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

  • Mamlock House

    Two years ago I was on a nostalgic visit to Manchester, England, where I had lived. I visited Mamlock House, a Jewish center where many meetings and lectures were given.

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 11alfred traum

  • Tracing Roots through Our Ancestors

    I remember visits to my maternal grandparents every Christmas. Though we are Jewish, this was the time we made our annual visit. My grandfather Stefan (Shmuel) Schreiber worked as an accountant for the Wedel Chocolate Factory and used to bring foil paper so I could shape it into a ball to play with. Grandmother Regina was always at her sewing machine, where she had a lot of treasures, including a fascinating box of buttons, which I played with when I was five years old. They lived in the center of Krakow in an apartment with a balcony. This was very important, my mother told me, because it was used to great effect to hide the Christmas tree from my grandfather’s notice. He was liberal, but the tree was just too much for him to allow. My grandfather had moved the family from a suburb of Krakow into the city so the children could go to Polish public schools. They didn’t speak Yiddish at home, only Polish.

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 11halina yasharoff peabody

  • Guests

    There is an ancient Jewish belief that there are seven imaginary, mystical guests, called Ushpizin in Aramaic, who visit families on Sukkot, the Festival of Tabernacles that commemorates the protection afforded by the Eternal as the Israelites wandered the desert. The guests, one for each day of the holiday, are said to be the biblical figures Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph, and David. Each is invited in turn, with a prayer formulated by 16th-century Kabbalists, to join the family in the sukkah, the temporary shelter built of natural materials that is at the heart of the holiday. 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 11alfred münzer

  • A Life in a Box

    My family, what some might call my biological family, lived in a box: a box roughly the size of a shoebox but much more elegant, a powder-blue flip-top box adorned with pink lilacs that had been used to display high-end perfumed soap bars—Boldoot or Castella—in Mom’s cosmetics store. The box was filled with photographs that introduced me to a world inhabited, in addition to my mom whom I had gotten to know in the flesh, by a dad, sisters, grandparents, and aunts and uncles whom I would otherwise never have met. I don’t remember when Mom first introduced me to the family in the box. It certainly wasn’t immediately after we had been reunited. I wasn’t quite four and my mom’s sudden addition to the family I already had—Papa, Mima, Willie, Dewie, and Robby—was more than enough for me to deal with. But I did come to understand soon after, that I had two sisters, portrayed in large, colorized photographs that were displayed wherever Mom and I came to live in those early years after we were reunited. My older sister, Eva, wore a blue dress and held her favorite doll, and my younger sister, Leah, wore a cream-colored dress. Eva had a broad smile, and Leah was more serious, apprehensive even. I must admit that I was somewhat envious of the attention my mother and others paid to my sisters. 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 11alfred münzer

  • They Are Coming for Me

    It's 5 A.M. A brief knock on the door and it opens. Simultaneously, the bright lights go on in the room. A small man wearing a white jacket walks in, carrying what looks like a box with a handle similar to what a hot dog vendor uses at a baseball game. It contains plastic tubes organized by the color of their corks. “A small pinch … .” That’s how phlebotomists warn you as they stick a needle in one of your veins. I used to be squeamish, but by now it’s become routine. Nevertheless, I look away as the needle is inserted in my arm and my blood begins to fill the small tubes.

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 11harry markowicz

  • Collateral Damage

    The much anticipated Allied landing in Normandy began on June 6, 1944. In addition to ground forces, large formations of Allied bombers—Americans flying at high altitudes in the daytime and the British at lower altitudes at night—were increasingly trying to disrupt the movement of German troops and supplies toward the front. Air raids of bridges, railroad junctures, and airports became almost routine in Belgium, where my family had taken refuge after fleeing from Berlin before the start of World War II. With revenge in our hearts, we cheered for the Allied airmen while hoping we would not become their unintended victims. 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 11harry markowicz

  • Onward to America: A New World

    The children boarded the train and they all began chattering even as the wheels began to turn. The train made a stop in Madrid to collect several additional children. Some of the young passengers had been with me at the Hospicio (orphanage) in Gerona and in Caldas de Malavella, and it was good to see Georges again. Jacques Rusman, a Southern French Jew from the city of Montauban, came aboard in Madrid along with Daniel Rosenberg. Other children that were placed with the group included Georgette and Pauline Wolman, as well as Israel and Rachel Lucas.

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 11michel margosis

  • The Staircase

    In the last eight months before we were liberated, plane traffic over Holland increased a lot. Most planes were bombers originating in Germany, flying over Holland to reach England to bomb British cities. Or our Allies came from England and also flew over Holland to reach Germany and bomb German cities.

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 11louise lawrence israëlslouise lawrence-israëls

  • A Special Moment

    Sidney and I left for Israel to celebrate the bar and bat mitzvah of two of our grandchildren, Benjamin and Rebekah: a joyous occasion and hopefully a learning experience. Our daughter Naomi did not finalize the ceremony of coming of age for her children until about eight months before. Neither of the children have any Jewish education, and they do not belong to a synagogue. Frankly, I think she made the arrangements to please her parents and especially me, with my background.

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 11louise lawrence israëlslouise lawrence-israëls

  • Visit to L’viv: Janowska

    October 15, 2013, was the first time I had stepped on the soil of L’viv in 68 years. I was born here in 1941. I was hidden here—first in a bunker in the barn of my dziadzio (grandpa in Polish), next in a tunnel bunker in the Borszczowice Forest, along with 30 or so other Jews. Later, I was hidden in the home of the Schwarczynskis, a retired Polish Catholic engineer and his wife. I was the “niece” of their housekeeper, Lucia Nowicka (later she became my babcia, or grandmother).

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 11julie keefer