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

  • 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 Unforgettable Theatrical Experience

    On the night of December 15, 2015, the Theater J, at the Jewish Community Center  of Washington, was filled to capacity. As a sign of the times, for security reasons, everyone attending this play had to be screened to enter.

    Tags:   ania drimerechoes of memory, volume 14pogromspolandjewish communities before the warantisemitismlife after the holocaust

  • My Favorite Language

    My first language, my mother tongue, was German. As a young girl living in Bad Kreuznach, Germany, I spoke only German with my parents and my friends. I attended first grade in the German public school shortly after the Nazis came into power. My teacher read Der Giftpilz (The Poisonous Mushroom) and the children made fun of me because I was Jewish. By 1938, I heard a considerable amount of Nazi propaganda on the radio and all around me. Therefore, the German language was something that I came to fear. It was uncomfortable for me to hear it even as an adult, far away from Germany, safe from past experiences. My family did not speak German here in the United States because we wanted to become Americans and learn English so that no one would make fun of us. When people spoke to me in German, I always answered in English. My vocabulary and reading level at the present time in that language is not much higher than Ashenproedel (Cinderella) and other fairy tales. Now, in the autumn of my life, I feel that it is about time that I toss away this aversion to my mother tongue, though it is still difficult. 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 12susan warsingerantisemitismoccupationpropaganda

  • Ghetto

    One of my favorite places to visit is Venice, Italy. Perhaps because I lived in Amsterdam for so many years, the water in and around Venice makes me feel connected to the city. 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 12louise lawrence israëlslouise lawrence-israëlsantisemitismghettos

  • History Repeating Itself

    On May 5, 2019, I was one of two speakers at a Yom Hashoah commemoration in Denver, Colorado. The gathering could not have been more timely. When I saw the printed program for the first time the day before, I was glad to see that someone had titled my presentation, “Surviving Mass Genocide. Anti-Semitism; History Repeating Itself.” Great title, although I thought I might have put a question mark at the end, as I was not ready to make such an affirmative statement. I would have raised it as a question: “Is History Repeating Itself?” 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 12peter gorogantisemitismhungary

  • Pocahontas, Arkansas

    It had been a long time since the Speakers Bureau of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum requested that I give a presentation in a far-off place, so when I received an e-mail asking me to go to Pocahontas, Arkansas, I was delighted. The trip was sponsored by Black River Technical College, and I was scheduled to give three lectures to 800 people at each session. It was to be a four-day trip: two days to get there and back, and two days for the speeches themselves. Museum staff member Emily Potter accompanied me on the trip.

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 10susan warsingerantisemitismvolunteering at the museum

  • Children Far Away

    Last week I had a wonderful opportunity to peer back deep into my memory when Emily Potter asked me to engage in a videoconference with 35 eighth- and tenth-grade students at Costa Rica’s La Paz School. I felt sure that I was going to be an interesting object in the eyes of those students while recording the conference, sitting in the room where our artistically boundless writers of Echoes of Memory meetings take place, at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

    Tags:   susan warsingerechoes of memory, volume 10antisemitismvolunteering at the museum

  • Memories and Defining Yourself

    In an interview at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum a few weeks ago I was asked, “Do your experiences in the Holocaust define you as a person?” Before writing about my answer to this question I would like to review some of my thoughts and questions about this matter. Do memories make us the person we are? Sometimes I have wondered if I would be a different person if I had not been born in Germany when the Nazis and Hitler came to power and when they immediately set out to implement anti-Jewish policies.

    Tags:   susan warsingerechoes of memory, volume 8antisemitismmemoryvolunteering at the museumlife after the holocaust

  • Remembering the Forgotten

    For the longest time I have remembered incidents that occurred during the Holocaust, about which very few have heard. This is a story I heard about after I returned from the concentration camp in 1945. Benzion and his family were from Plosk, a small village near Polana. Until 1939, it was known as Karpatska Russ in Czechoslovakia. 

    Tags:   martin weissechoes of memory, volume 7antisemitismdenunciationpoliceremembrance

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