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

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  • Reinkensstraat 67

    Reinkenstraat 67 is the address in Den Haag of an ordinary two-story home next to a fish market. It is an ordinary house on an ordinary street lined with ordinary small businesses and cafés. The address is less than a mile from the house where I was born and that my family called home until October 1942 when our family was torn apart, and we were forced to go into hiding. Reinkenstraat 67 is an address that Hannah Arendt might have called “banal,” an ordinary address where evil and mass murder assumed a personal dimension. A house I needed to see with my own two eyes, not to achieve closure, but to feel and bear witness to the depths to which the human soul can descend.

    Tags:   alfred münzerechoes of memory, volume 14denunciationauschwitzbergen-belsenmemorialspolicehidden childrenamsterdam

  • 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

  • Uncle Abram

    I was born in Berlin in 1937. The following year, shortly before Kristallnacht, my father arranged for my family to be smuggled across the border into Belgium. We were very close to Uncle Abram—my mother’s brother—and his family. Their apartment was around the corner from ours in Berlin, and they also crossed the border illegally into Belgium around the same time.

    Tags:   harry markowiczechoes of memory, volume 13belgiumdenunciationmemorials

  • 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

  • Interview with Polish TV

    On January 27, 2018, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Polish government passed a bill that would make it illegal to accuse the Polish nation or Polish people of complicity in Nazi war crimes. 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 11marcel drimeraftermath of the holocaustdenunciationcurrent events

  • Daily Miracles That Saved the Mendels Family

    It was a miracle that while my father continued going to his office after the “Aryanization” of his business with his Jewish star on, he was not arrested and taken away to an internment camp between May 1941, when Jews were first rounded up, and the end of July 1942, when we fled.

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 11jacqueline mendels birndenunciationoccupationresistancefamily

  • The Unspeakable

    At first, the Nazi occupation of Belgium did not seem so troubling to us because the German authorities didn’t start persecuting Jews until October 1940, almost six months after the invasion began on May 10, 1940. In addition, anti-Jewish laws were introduced gradually to avoid alarming the Jewish population, which might have provoked disobedience among Jews and opposition from Belgian authorities. The German leaders also wanted to avoid raising Belgian public opinion against them as happened during World War I.

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 10harry markowiczanti-jewish legislationauschwitzhidingdenunciationoccupationselection

  • 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

  • In Hiding

    In the winter of 1943, Dziadziu learned that the Nazis were going to burn down the ghetto in Lvov where my mother, father, baby sister, and I were hiding.

    Tags:   julie keeferechoes of memory, volume 9denunciationhidingresistancegrandparentsmemory

  • A Three-Year-Old Saves His Mother

    After my mother was miraculously released from the infamous Mosonyi Street Jail, we could no longer stay with our Christian host family, whose apartment was not in a building that was assigned to Jews and marked with a yellow Star of David. We could not afford to have another “good neighbor” denounce us again to the police.

    Tags:   peter gorogechoes of memory, volume 9arrow crossdenunciationhungarymass shootings

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