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

Blog Home > alfred traum

  • 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

  • The Kiddush Cup

    It was always the same. Ushering the Sabbath, my father held the silver kiddush cup in the flat palm of his hand with his thumb resting against the brim of the cup, his head held high, eyes half closed as he recited the blessing over the wine. We all took a sip from the cup. That, together with all the other festive traditional activities, was carried out in proper order. Any bystander would have thought this was just an ordinary Friday night in a Jewish home. So it would have seemed. But I am sure that both our parents’ hearts were breaking. My sister and I were leaving for England on the following Tuesday. This would be our last Sabbath dinner together. Although we thought that we would soon be reunited, our parents knew the difficulties that lay ahead. And indeed, it was the last Sabbath meal we shared.

    Tags:   alfred traumechoes of memory, volume 6

  • Keep Off the Grass

    The moon glistened on the river Weser as our long column of Centurion tanks made its way back to our barracks at Luneberg. We were passing through Hamlin, the very same town that gained fame through the stories of the Pied Piper who rid it of a rat infestation many centuries ago. The street was lined with neat houses and manicured lawns to our right and the river to our left. We rumbled along, the tank tracks clattering on the cobbled streets and shattering the still of the evening. Here and there lights flickered on as homeowners drew back curtains to see what the noise was all about. We were not welcome guests there. It was late in the summer of 1952 and the conclusion of a month-long Rhine army maneuver.

    Tags:   alfred traumechoes of memory, volume 5