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

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  • Vienna Revisited

    Several years ago I received an invitation to visit Vienna, Austria, a good will gesture organized by the Austrian Government. The purpose was to reach out to Holocaust survivors who had left their homes in Vienna during the second World War. We were a group of about 60, of which half were born in Vienna. I was the only one who had left Vienna on the Kindertransport. Josie, my wife, came along as my guest. We all stayed at the Hotel Stefanie in the second district, Leopoldstatte, once the center of Jewish life in Vienna. The hotel was comfortable, the food excellent, but smiles and cheerful conversations were not on the menu. However, the housekeeping staff greeted us in a very friendly manner; they were all Turkish immigrants. 

    Tags:   alfred traumechoes of memory, volume 13

  • British Army

    The volunteer office provided me a ticket to Amsterdam, and from there I made my way by train and ferry back to England. As I approached the immigration booth, I wondered how it would go. I had been technically AWOL (absent without leave) from the British Army for 18 months. The agent took my passport, shuffled some papers, and said, “Well, well, lookie here. Did you know you are wanted by the army?” I answered, “Yes, that’s why I am here.” “Well good, mind you report to your local police station when you get home.” With that, he stamped my passport, returning it to me and cheerfully said, “Welcome home, son.” That sounded good to my ears. I thought, one hurdle gone, but several still lay ahead. 

    Tags:   alfred traumechoes of memory, volume 13

  • The Night Watchman

    As Chief Radio Officer on the SS Zion, I had the 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. watch, which provided me with the whole evening free to enjoy dinner with guests in the dining room plus partake in activities of a social nature. However, my watch was also in the wee hours of the morning from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. Generally, activities in the radio room were slack during those hours, and I had plenty of free time to chat with the night watchman who used to stop by. He held one of those clocks that registered at different stations aboard the ship and time stamped at each location. However, it still provided ample time for me to hear his story. 

    Tags:   alfred traumechoes of memory, volume 13

  • Maiden Voyage

    Friday, the day of departure for our maiden voyage, had finally arrived. By 10 a.m. passengers began to embark, a very different and diverse group from those who had joined us in Gibraltar. For the most part, they were holiday makers or returning tourists. Hundreds of them, with bright smiling faces, walked up the wide gangway to be welcomed aboard by the purser’s representative. Before entering the ship they all turned back to give a quick wave to family or friends who had come to see them off on their journey. There appeared to be quite a number of American students returning home. They congregated in clusters on the decks and lounges excitedly comparing notes of their experiences while in Israel. Also noticeable were some of the older passengers, whose demeanor was that of anxious anticipation, possibly contemplating their reunion with long-lost relatives who had survived the war and made their way to the United States. The composition of the passengers had all the indications of what would turn out to be an interesting two weeks ahead of us. By mid-afternoon we were ready to sail. It looked as though all of Haifa had turned out to wish us bon voyage. The ships in the harbor gave their salutations as we slipped out of the harbor into the open sea. 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 12alfred traum

  • Britain’s Response

    Britain's response to the mass violence against Jews on Kristallnacht (the “Night of Broken Glass”) on November 9-10, 1938, was to offer a safe haven to children at risk living under the Nazi yoke, and thus the Kindertransport program was born. By the time World War II broke out on September 1, 1939, approximately 10,000 children had arrived in Britain via the Kindertransport program. In many cases, parents made that heart-wrenching decision to send their children away without knowing if they would ever be reunited. But by taking that step, the parents saved their children’s lives. 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 12alfred traum

  • 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

  • Vienna, Chanukah 1938

    The first day of Chanukah fell on December 23, just 42 days after the infamous Kristallnacht. That night, most of Vienna’s synagogues were torched, Jewish stores looted and decimated, many homes broken into and men beaten, and in some cases men arrested and taken to concentration camps. That night was still fresh in our memories when the decision was made, nevertheless, to go ahead with the Chanukah celebration and pageant for which so many of us had rehearsed.

    Tags:   alfred traumechoes of memory, volume 9

  • The S.S. Zion

    So this was it! I was finally on the way to realizing my dream. It had been six long years—army, merchant navy, college, assignments at sea, and more schooling—and all the time working toward a single goal. Those were the thoughts that echoed through my mind as we drove to the Manchester Airport. My whole family came to see me off—my sister, her husband, and the two boys all excited and wishing me well— as I embarked on my new adventure. It wasn’t a sad farewell. We all knew that we would see each other fairly soon.

    Tags:   alfred traumechoes of memory, volume 9

  • Ruth

    This would be our first return to Israel since my sister’s death. My visits before had always felt like a homecoming. Now there was an emptiness that could not easily be replaced by family or friends. Josie and I embarked on our short vacation with mixed emotions.

    Tags:   alfred traumechoes of memory, volume 7

  • The Gas Mask

    Herr Tamer lived at the end of the hall. He was a tall gaunt man, a very private man, or so it seemed to me as a nine year old—a lonely figure who responded pleasantly to my greeting when our paths crossed. One day he knocked at our door and asked if he could come in to listen to Hitler’s speech. He didn’t own a radio and knew we had one that, even though it was old, was better than nothing.

    Tags:   alfred traumechoes of memory, volume 7

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