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

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  • Time Moving in Reverse

    The Holocaust should be receding into history, the purview of scholars, books, museums, and memorials. After all, the Nazi regime that gave rise to the Holocaust gained power 87 years ago and was defeated 75 years ago. But for me, in these last few weeks, time seems to have been moving in reverse. The resurgence of antisemitism and xenophobia in the United States and Europe may have played a part, but the sudden, unexpected discovery of new information about the fate of my sisters has hurled me back to a time when I was less than a year old, a time when I was too young to comprehend the breakup forced on our family by the Nazi occupation. It is as if the immunity conferred by the slow piecemeal exposure to the Holocaust as a youngster growing up in its immediate aftermath had worn off, and I now fully felt the pain of the loss of my sisters and the anger at the perpetrators and collaborators responsible for the murder of two bright and beautiful young girls, only five and seven, in a man-made hell called Auschwitz.  

    Tags:   alfred münzerechoes of memory, volume 13auschwitzcollaborationdenunciation

  • Impressions of Contemporary Polish Jewish Life

    On October 14, 2018, I attended the Generation After Fall Tea at Beth El Synagogue in Bethesda. The speaker was Emanuel Thorne, professor of Economics at Brooklyn College. He represented Generation After on a “unique” study trip in June 2018 sponsored by the Polish Embassy in Washington, DC. He shared his impressions of contemporary Polish Jewish life, the complex issues emerging, his experiences with the Jewish and Polish leadership, and future prospects. He told the audience that he was impressed with the various Jewish activities in present-day Poland and overall friendly atmosphere toward the Jews. 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 12halina yasharoff peabodycollaborationpolandpogroms

  • Decamping France

    During the invasion of Morocco and Algeria in Operation Torch, undertaken by the Allied Forces on the eighth of November 1942, German troops overran the unoccupied zone of France directly. The Nazi military finally and openly occupied the whole of metropolitan France in 1942 because of this new threat from the Allied invasion of North Africa. I found the sound of the Nazi boots marching on the Canebière terrifying, perhaps because the footwear worn by the German infantry were probably Knobelbecher, what are sometimes called jackboots. The standard version of the Knobelbecher in World War II had a leather sole with hobnails and a horseshoe heel.

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 10michel margosiscollaborationcomplicitydeportationescapemarseillespolice

  • Sunday Lunch at Charlotte’s House

    As a result of World War II, my few surviving relatives and their descendants ended up living in different parts of the world—some in Sweden; some in Venezuela; and others in Israel, England, Australia, and Canada. My parents, sister, brother, and I settled in the United States after the war. An exception to this pattern of leaving Europe to start a new life elsewhere was my cousin Charlotte, who spent part of the war in hiding, but returned afterward to her parents’ home in Noisy-le-Grand—a distant eastern suburb of Paris—and lived there nearly to the present day.

    Tags:   harry markowiczechoes of memory, volume 9complicitycollaborationdenunciationhidingfamily

  • My Mother

    Of all the people to whom I owe for the fact that I am alive today, there is one I want to single out: my mother. She was no taller than five feet, and she was nothing but love. She also had more than her share of suffering. One of seven siblings (two of which died at a young age), she lost her father when she was only 11. This loss left her own mother to struggle with raising the children.

    Tags:   albert garihechoes of memory, volume 9collaborationhidingoccupationparis

  • 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 6collaborationdenunciationhiding

  • Coincidences of Life

    I was seven years old when the German army entered our town, Drohobycz, in Soviet Ukraine on July 1, 1941. Immediately they started persecuting Jews by indiscriminately robbing and killing us, forcing us to wear armbands with the Star of David, and confiscating our arms, radios, gold, etc. They encouraged Ukrainian thugs to enter Jewish homes, beat up the inhabitants, and take whatever they wanted. In fact, it did not take much encouragement. My maternal grandfather was one of the victims of the beatings and died a few days later.

    Tags:   marcel drimerechoes of memory, volume 6anti-jewish legislationcollaborationdenunciationaktionbelzecfamily

  • Spiritual Resistance—The Hanging

    Nineteen forty-three was a very cold winter. Life in the ghetto was very difficult. People did not have wood to heat their rooms; they burned every piece of wooden furniture to keep warm. The hunger was great—the small ration that was given to us could not keep us alive.

    Tags:   nesse godinechoes of memory, volume 4collaborationjewish resistancegestapoghettosfood

  • 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 3forced laborcollaborationfamilymemory