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

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  • What Makes a Good Relationship

    My wife and I have been living together for more than half a century, 54 years to be precise. I would not say that the sky has always been blue, or without clouds, or we have always been living in perfect harmony, but we are still together after all these years, and that is some accomplishment.

    Tags:   albert garihechoes of memory, volume 14familylife after the holocaust

  • Racism

    I was affected by racism from my birth. When I was two years old, my native France was invaded by her neighbor, Germany, who immediately started to implement anti-Jewish laws that affected me before I was old enough to know it. First, we were expelled from our home, which was the janitor’s house of the garment factory where my father worked as an accountant. We had to find an apartment overnight, in the middle of the war and in the midst of a terrible housing crisis. I was four years old.

    Tags:   albert garihechoes of memory, volume 14anti-jewish legislationfranceantisemitismracismlife after the holocaust

  • My First Theatrical Experience

    When I was 11 years old, my sisters took me to the Comédie Française to see Cyrano de Bergerac. It was the first time I went to a theater, and I had no idea what the play was about. I was immediately sold on the theater and on Cyrano, a man with a long nose, not handsome, not so particular about how he dressed, but, as he says to this vain interlocutor who has the nerve to provoke him by telling him that he has a long nose, “Me, it is morally that I have my elegance.” The whole play is about how he is morally elegant, almost heroic when Roxane, his cousin, the lady with whom he is so deeply in love, tells him that she is in love with someone else. Instead of behaving like a jealous, dismissed lover, he pairs with his rival and, together, they work towards making Roxane fall in love with “their” eloquence. That night at the theater, Cyrano became my hero, a role model I would try to emulate all my life, trying to make the best of a disillusion.

    Tags:   albert garihechoes of memory, volume 14life after the holocaustmemory

  • Mireille

    It was in the spring of 1944 during the time after my father had been taken to a slave labor camp, where he was assigned to building the Atlantic Wall to stop the Allies’ invasion. My mother, my sisters, and I were staying with the Galop family who had offered to take us into hiding so we wouldn’t be arrested and deported by the Gestapo, the French police, or the French militia. Monsieur Galop, who was a very talented builder—his job was to build sets for the movie studios—had erected a small shelter in their yard for our protection against the bombardments. I don’t think that flimsy construction would have saved us if a bomb had fallen in their yard, but it gave us comfort in case of danger.

    Tags:   albert garihechoes of memory, volume 14forced laborhidingfrancememory

  • Things I Should Not Have Done

    I guess we all have things we would rather have done or not done, said or not said, things we are proud of or not so proud of in our lives. I am going to tell about a time I am not too proud of. This happened when I was 13 or 14 years old. I hope that by telling about it, I will clear my conscience once and for all of that stain that still haunts me almost 70 years later.

    Tags:   albert garihechoes of memory, volume 14life after the holocaustmemory

  • My Rescuers

    During the fall of 1942, concerned about the danger that we might be rounded up and taken away, our parents sent my sisters and me to a farm in Thoiry, outside of Paris, where we stayed with two ladies, Madame Arthus and another lady, who I think was her sister. (I never saw a man there; the men had probably been taken prisoner with the French army during the Battle of France in the summer of 1940.) They were unaware that they were hosting Jewish children, because my parents had not told them, explaining only that we would be better fed on a farm than in a Paris suburb where food was rationed and scarce.

    Tags:   albert garihechoes of memory, volume 13hidingliberationrescuers

  • America

    I was six years old when I first heard of Americans. The first ones I saw were our liberators. It was in the summer of 1944, and I was hiding in a Catholic boarding school in Montfermeil, a suburb northeast of Paris. Paris was liberated on August 25, 1944, and we were liberated two days later. A student who had left the school came back shouting, “The Allies are coming! The Allies are coming!” So, we all went to the main street to welcome them: tanks, trucks, and jeeps with soldiers with different kinds of helmets and smiles on their faces, giving away chocolate, chewing gum, and even cigarettes. They were our liberators. The headmistress of my school, who was probably the one who knew about my situation as a hidden Jewish child, was holding my hand. (I was the youngest student in that school, and she wanted to make sure I was safe.) I was told they were Americans, and it was the first time I heard of Americans and America. I had heard of the Germans, of course, of the English, of the Italians, but who were these boys? Where did they come from? I was just six, after all. 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 12albert garihhidingliberationunited statesus army

  • 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 garihelie wieselvolunteering at the museum

  • Why I Feel that We Must Move On with the German People

    Like many Jewish children who were victimized during World War II, I grew up hating the entire German people for the Holocaust. How could a nation commit such crimes as killing men, women, children, and elderly people and still look at other people in the eyes without being ashamed of themselves? How could they round up millions of Jews, Roma (Gypsies), slaves, homosexuals, and handicapped children and send them to gas chambers or perform experiments on twins, among others?

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 10albert garihaftermath of the holocaustcomplicityvolunteering at the museum

  • My Father in Aurigny (Alderney)

    In September 1943, Benjamin Garih, my father, received a summons. We didn’t know where they were going to send him. But, my father has always made a point to comply with the rules, and besides, he would not want to put his family in danger. He decided to go to this ominous designated rendezvous. I was five years old, and despite the commotion around me, I didn’t realize how threatening the situation was for my father, but also for us. When the day of his leaving came, he was ready. I remember that he was given a gas mask in a cylindrical metal box. As a child, it was like a toy for me that I would play with, putting it on. When he left, he had this box strap slung around his shoulder. I don’t remember what other luggage he had. I only remember this gas mask, a frightening reminder of the first world war.

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 10albert garihdeportationforced laborlettersparents

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