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

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  • Step into a Photo

    The smiling children sitting on the well-worn step are my brother Joe and me. We look happy because our mother is in the house about to have our baby brother. We know nothing about her not being able to go to the hospital because we are Jewish. The battered wooden door behind us is dense and solid, so we cannot hear any noises coming from the inside. When new, this door must have been especially elegant because of the intricate paneling that is embossed on its lower part. The photo was taken 84 years ago. 

    Tags:   susan warsingerechoes of memory, volume 14antisemitismanti-jewish legislationboycottsmemoryfamily

  • My Story

    I was born in Kraków, Poland, and we lived in Zaleszczyki. My mother was an all-around athlete: a champion swimmer, skier, ice skater, and horse rider. She made sure that I would follow in her footsteps and she taught me to skate and ski when I was five. She also taught me to knit, crochet, and embroider, all skills she excelled at.

    Tags:   halina yasharoff peabodyechoes of memory, volume 14occupied polandanti-jewish legislationmass shootingshidingdeportationsparents

  • 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

  • Democracy Shattered

    We I came to the United States, I was 16 years old, and I went religiously to night school, anxious to learn everything about my new adopted country such as the language, the Bill of Rights, etc. Mrs. Durst, my teacher, was a very nice person and a good teacher. She stressed the greatness of the Constitution and the “Four Freedoms.” As time went on, she suggested I read the New York Times to improve my language skills. By that time, I spoke four languages and was able to read and write in all of them.

    Tags:   martin weissechoes of memory, volume 12anti-jewish legislationaryanizationforced laboroccupation

  • A Letter to Olivia

    Dear Olivia, 

    Last month I met your dad at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA. He was in the audience when I gave a talk about my family’s experience during the Holocaust. It was the first time he heard an account by an actual survivor of that terrible chapter in the world’s history. Afterwards he came up to me with tears in his eyes and said, “I am a young father and have a one-year-old daughter. Who will tell her your story when she grows up?” He then asked whether I would write a letter to you that you could read when you are old enough to understand the history and the lessons of the Holocaust that I shared that evening.

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 12alfred münzeranti-jewish legislationdenunciationhidingrescuers

  • Manfred’s Last Letter

    During the Nazi occupation of Belgium, the mail played an essential role in my family’s life. Letters were practically the only means for members of my family who were living in hiding to keep in touch with each other. The receipt of a letter signified the writer was safe, at least at the time it was mailed or handed over to a non-Jewish person for mailing. 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 12harry markowiczanti-jewish legislationdeportationhidingletters

  • Leaving Nazi Germany

    In 1938, my family was living in Berlin while the Nazis were intensifying the repression and violence against Jews. Late that summer, my father took my two siblings on a train to Aachen, a spa city near the borders of Belgium and the Netherlands. My sister, Rosi, was ten years old and my brother, Mani, was a year younger. I was just one year old, so my mother and I stayed home. During the train ride, Rosi shared with Mani what she had overheard at home: this was not a vacation as they had been told. As a matter of fact, they were going to Aachen to cross the border into Belgium. 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 12harry markowiczanti-jewish legislationescaperefugees

  • Schiffchen oder Hütchen (Little Boat or Little Hat)

    I always marvel at the ability that my friends and colleagues have to remember the small details of their childhood. I, too, want to see the world the way I experienced it when I was a very young girl. For me, it is just so difficult to recollect, a demand on my mind. I am sure that it is not because I want to erase it due to what I went through. I just worry because I cannot remember. It makes me feel good when my daughter, Terese, assures me that it is “because there is just a lot to remember.”

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 11susan warsingeranti-jewish legislationjewish communities before the warresistancememory

  • Were They Crazy?

    “Are you crazy?” was the most frequently heard question by my parents from those who learned that my mother was pregnant with me. Under normal circumstances, no one should pose this question when a new child is about to be born. But, those were not normal circumstances, and neither was the time nor the place. The time was fall 1940; the place was Budapest, Hungary; and my parents were Jewish. In defense of those who questioned the sanity of my parents, here are some reasons why this question was not completely out of place.

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 10peter goroganti-jewish legislationforced laborparents

  • To Convert or Not to Convert? That Was the Question

    My mother came from a very observant Orthodox Jewish family. Her grandfather was an Orthodox rabbi in a small town in Austria-Hungary (today Prešov, Slovakia). Her father graduated from a yeshiva in Pressburg (today Bratislava, Slovakia), but he never became a rabbi. Her family kept kosher—meaning they observed the very strict Jewish dietary laws—and she had a strong Jewish education.

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 10peter goroganti-jewish legislationreligion

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