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

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  • Why I Feel that We Must Move On with the German People

    Like many Jewish children who were victimized during World War II, I grew up hating the entire German people for the Holocaust. How could a nation commit such crimes as killing men, women, children, and elderly people and still look at other people in the eyes without being ashamed of themselves? How could they round up millions of Jews, Roma (Gypsies), slaves, homosexuals, and handicapped children and send them to gas chambers or perform experiments on twins, among others?

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 10albert garihaftermath of the holocaustcomplicityvolunteering at the museum

  • 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

  • Escaping from Evil

    Growing up in a rural area where many people were uneducated, I always thought that in the cities, especially in Western Europe, where people had access to higher education and city life, they would behave in a more civilized way than people where I lived. Growing up in a democratic country like Czechoslovakia, even as a seven- or eight-year-old kid, I felt very proud of our country, because we were treated as citizens. That does not mean that our neighbors who were “Russ” were not antisemitic; they were. However, we did coexist and got along.

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 10martin weisscomplicityimmigrationsudetenlandvolunteering at the museum

  • Reunion in Ebensee

    It has been 15 years since I last visited the little town called Ebensee that is nestled high in the Austrian Alps and since I stood at the grave of my father and wept. I never knew my father because he, like my mother and two sisters, was taken from our home in Holland and deported when I was only nine months old. My mother survived, but my sisters and father did not. My sisters were killed in Auschwitz. And my father went from The Hague to Westerbork, to Vught, to Auschwitz, to Mauthausen, to Gusen, to Steyr, and finally to Ebensee. He survived the hardships of the camp but died two months later of what we were told was tuberculosis.

    Tags:   alfred münzerechoes of memory, volume 9complicitydeportationebenseemauthausenmemorialsparents

  • 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

  • Some Were Neighbors

    When I saw this title of the upcoming exhibit at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, I felt that couldn’t have thought of a more meaningful one, so true was it in our case. This is how we lived during World War II in occupied France. While most were indifferent or just struggling, trying to survive in difficult circumstances, some were fighting in the resistance, some were helping, and some were in the militia, doing the dirty jobs for the occupying forces.

    Tags:   albert garihechoes of memory, volume 8complicityrighteous among the nationsrescue and resistance

  • An Unexpected Letter

    It was the summer of 1997 when I received an unexpected letter and a picture from a former non-Jewish playmate. The picture had been taken by a street photographer and was of a group of neighborhood youngsters near where we lived in Bremen, my hometown. We boys were then about 10 or 15 years old. It was taken shortly before Hitler came to power, when Jewish and non-Jewish children still played together.

    Tags:   rabbi jacob g. wienerechoes of memory, volume 3lettersbergen-belsenfriendscomplicity

  • 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 2complicityhidingmemoryparents