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

  • Rex—A Pet?

    It is early spring of 1944. I am three years old and living in the home of the Schwarczynskis at 78 St. Sophia Street in Lwów, Poland. My pretend “aunt,” Lucia Nowicka—the Polish Catholic woman who saved my life—is their live-in housekeeper. Rex is the Schwarczynskis’ dog. I cannot really call Rex a pet; he is a guard dog—a huge and ferocious German shepherd. His sharp white teeth and the drool from his mouth glisten in the sun. He barks at Nazis. Because the Nazi governor lives next door to the Schwarczynskis and has Nazi guards and soldiers lined up at his front door, Rex barks constantly. His bark is a deep-throated, menacing growl. Even the Schwarczynskis are intimidated by him. He is kept outdoors on a metal chain. His food and water are shoved to him with a long pole.

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 11julie keefer

  • WHAT YOU DO MATTERS: A Letter to My Family

    I have been planning for a while to share with you some of the emails, cards, and Facebook postings I receive after I lead a tour at the Museum or give a speaking engagement. I have been reluctant to share the feedback because it might seem boastful, like I’m bragging or self-aggrandizing. I only got over my reluctance very recently after the Kennedy Center cast of An American in Paris (more than 30 people!) came to the Museum and another survivor, Marty Weiss, and I gave them a tour. They were the most attentive and responsive group I have ever led on a tour. They were the friendliest, most down-to-earth people you have ever met, without any celebrity attitude. 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 11peter gorog

  • Enduring Melodies

    If someone could grant me one wish, I would ask, without hesitation, for perfect pitch. The people I envy are the ones who can play music by ear. I love music and would love to be able to play an instrument, any instrument. Although if a second request would be honored, my choice of instrument would be cello or maybe clarinet. 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 11peter gorog

  • Did Your Mom Pray during the Holocaust?

    “Did your mom pray during the Holocaust?” asked an 8th-grade student after one of my presentations at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. I was surprised hearing this question, and while I tried to compose my answer, I also tried to figure out what prompted her to ask it.

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 11peter gorog

  • The Aftermath: Right after Liberation, Silence Begins

    On April 28, 1945, in Garmish Parten Kirchen, Germany, the 179 Hungarian women had 179 opinions of their whereabouts, what to do, and where to go. My mother, sister Shosha, and I looked at one another, cried, hugged, and declared that we had made it in spite of all that we had gone through. In spite of the Nazis’ intentions and efforts. We were relieved that we did not have to be part of the forced death march any more. Our strength had been spent, and we just wanted to sit down due to exhaustion. I knew that if I would have had to march for one more day, I would not have remained alive. 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 11agi geva

  • Leaving Home: June 14, 1943

    It was a beautiful summer morning with no sign of rain so I thought it would be a good idea to go swimming at Tapolca. I phoned a few friends to join me. Even Shosha, my-12-year-old sister, wanted to come, which was unusual as she did not like to be with my friends so much.

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 11agi geva

  • 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