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

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  • Kasia

    Dawn came much too early that day. I was returning from the forest after spending all night looking for food in a neighboring village. I didn’t find much—just some cucumbers and one tomato. Now it was getting light and I still had about a mile to go to reach the darker, safer forest. I walked as fast as I could, considering my blistered feet, and the forest gave me relative cover. Darkness was my only shield and protection. Walking in an open field was dangerous.

    Tags:   charlene schiffechoes of memory, volume 6

  • Don’t Ask for Soap

    Charlene Schiff (Shulamit Perlmutter), from Horochow, Poland, survived the Holocaust by hiding alone in the forests near her home.

    Tags:   charlene schiffechoes of memory, volume 6

  • A Special Diet

    There are experiences in my life that are difficult to describe, experiences that were painful and repulsive, and this is one of them. I remember exactly when and how it happened. It was late autumn 1942 and my most recent search for food had ended badly. Nearing a village, I had managed to wake up seemingly every dog. A barrage of rifle shots accompanied the dogs for good measure. There was nowhere to hide. I escaped detection by running as if I had wings. Near the road, I spotted a well and jumped in. It took a full day for me to claw my way out. Having no choice, I returned to the forest where I had started.

    Tags:   charlene schiffechoes of memory, volume 5

  • The Girl from the Forest

    When I woke, I was in a real bed with clean sheets, a blanket, and a pillow. The last thing I remembered was being in my pit in the forest and getting sick. I wondered now if I was a prisoner. I wondered if I should try to escape. It was still dark, but soon dawn would come and it would be too late to try to run. Where could I go? I thought. I didn’t even know where I was. When daybreak arrived I realized I was in a hospital, but under whose jurisdiction I wondered. The attendants moved quietly, their muffled voices not clear enough for me to distinguish the language they spoke. If it was German I knew only that I would need to hide.

    Tags:   charlene schiffechoes of memory, volume 5

  • Paranka

    It was midwinter of 1943. I was on top of a mound of hay inside a barn, trying to stay warm, when a hand removed the hay covering my upper body. I found myself staring at a young woman with a look of surprise on her face.

    Tags:   charlene schiffechoes of memory, volume 4

  • Papa’s Magnificent Obsession

    Next to his family, Papa loved his books best. He collected first editions and rare books. These books were precious to him. Often when dinner conversation centered around our forthcoming emigration from Poland, Papa would state categorically, “The books go with us.” Mama never objected—I think she was just as proud of this collection as Papa was.

    Tags:   charlene schiffechoes of memory, volume 4

  • What Mattered Most

    My sister Tia came home from work ill. She couldn’t even eat the soup that Mama prepared for supper. We were putting thin slices of potato on her forehead to bring down her fever—precious potato slices that should have been put in the soup instead.

    Tags:   charlene schiffechoes of memory, volume 3

  • That First Day

    I don’t remember the name of the displaced persons camp, or which country I was in, but I do remember that first day.

    Tags:   charlene schiffechoes of memory, volume 3

  • For a Rainy Day (Men Zol Nit Bedarfen)

    I still hoped that Mother would show up in one of the forests that abounded in that area of Poland. It was autumn of 1942. At that time I believed that this nightmare was temporary, and that any day I would find Mama. Had I thought differently, I would have given up.

    Tags:   charlene schiffechoes of memory, volume 3

  • If Rivers Could Speak

    I was in the water up to my neck. The water was cold. We were hiding in the bulrushes and I knew we could not move. It was very quiet and any sound would give us away. Mama gave me some soggy bread. It tasted awful, but she insisted I had to eat it to keep strong.

    Tags:   charlene schiffechoes of memory, volume 2

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