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

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  • 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 13

  • 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 garih

  • 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

  • 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 garih

  • 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 garih

  • My Mother

    Of all the people to whom I owe for the fact that I am alive today, there is one I want to single out: my mother. She was no taller than five feet, and she was nothing but love. She also had more than her share of suffering. One of seven siblings (two of which died at a young age), she lost her father when she was only 11. This loss left her own mother to struggle with raising the children.

    Tags:   albert garihechoes of memory, volume 9

  • Flory

    I first met Flory Jagoda in 2001 when she founded our Ladino group, Vijitas de Alhad (Sunday visits). I was one of the very first members of that group, and I was immediately seduced by her charm. She was an approximately 80-year-old lady, a native of Bosnia who moved to the States after marrying a young US Army officer in 1945. Flory was a young bride whose wedding gown was made from a parachute. A singer and composer, Flory wrote “Ocho Kandelikas” (Eight candles)—the famous song that celebrates Hanukkah. I started to attend our monthly visit assiduously, and it was like love at first sight.

    Tags:   albert garihechoes of memory, volume 9

  • Shrapnel

    In the summer of 1944, I was in hiding in a Catholic boarding school in Montfermeil, a Paris suburb made famous by the episode in Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables where Jean Valjean meets Cosette, sent by the Thénardiers to fetch water in the woods. I was about the age of Cosette when I was there, hidden in that school. My sisters and I had been sent to Montfermeil after two police inspectors had come to our home to take us away.

    Tags:   albert garihechoes of memory, volume 8

  • Some Were Neighbors

    When I saw this title of the upcoming exhibit at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, I felt that couldn’t have thought of a more meaningful one, so true was it in our case. This is how we lived during World War II in occupied France. While most were indifferent or just struggling, trying to survive in difficult circumstances, some were fighting in the resistance, some were helping, and some were in the militia, doing the dirty jobs for the occupying forces.

    Tags:   albert garihechoes of memory, volume 8

  • Letter to a World War II Veteran

    Dear Veteran,

    This is to express my gratitude for your sacrifice during World War II. I was a hidden child in Paris, France, pursued by Nazi invaders and their French collaborators who were doing the dirty job of rounding up people like me to send us to the gas chambers in Auschwitz. Were it not for people like you, who braved the enemy fire to liberate Europe from the tyranny of the Nazi regime, I might not be here today.

    Tags:   albert garihechoes of memory, volume 8

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