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

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  • Tears

    My brother and I heard shouting and loud noises all around us. He was five years old and I was three. We had lived a very quiet life for two and a half years between our safe walls.

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 4louise lawrence-israëlslouise lawrence israëls

  • Helpers at the Gate

    Finally, we had arrived in Montreal, Canada. Our goal had been to move to the home of my father’s cousin—our sponsor, Louis Wolinsky, who lived in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, Canada. It had been a long and difficult procedure to find any person to help us leave Germany.

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  • Leaving Germany Forever

    My father and we four children had our permits in hand to immigrate to Canada. Now it seemed easy to “sign us out.” That’s what the Germans wanted at that time, 1939: “Jews leave, get out.” Several years later, when no country showed any interest in saving refugees, Hitler said, “No one wants them; we are correct in excluding them from our land. They are in our power. And our goal to make Germany Judenrein will go on in force now until the last Jew is dead.”

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  • Separation

    After the night of broken glass, when the Nazis organized and carried out a pogrom of anti-Jewish violence, my parents—like most Jews in Germany—wanted to leave. There was no more waiting to find out if events such as Kristallnacht would cease, or if life would ever be normal again for all of us. Our first choice was to come to the United States, where we had cousins living in New York. They were most anxious to assist us by sending us tickets for the voyage and helping us settle in this new land. However, like most countries, the United States had a quota which had been established many years before and, therefore, we found it impossible to immgrate.

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  • My Mother’s Birthday

    My brother has always been braver than I. On a night when we were little children (he was eight and I was nine), when the rocks and bricks came crashing through our bedroom windows, it was he who looked out to see what was happening. I stayed under the cover, hiding my face in the dark shadowy room because I was afraid. He did, however, give me a full report of what was happening outside while he was leaning on the low windowsill. It was our neighbors, adults and their children, who were hurling the missiles while the civil policeman was watching at the edge of the crowd doing nothing to stop the bombardment.

    Tags:   susan warsingerechoes of memory, volume 4

  • Looking for My Father

    I know my father, Adolf Rosenfeld, was born in 1898 in Korb, Germany. Korb is a very small place. He apprenticed as a baker when he was a young teenager. During World War I he was in the army. During his service in the war he lost a leg. Consequently, when he returned to Korb after the war, he could not work as a baker.

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  • Smuggling

    By 1941, Jewish people in Belgium no longer received food ration stamps. The only way to obtain food was to buy it on the black market. Mama started to smuggle food across the border from northern France, where food was still more easily obtained and less expensive. Part of the food Mama bought was sold and some of it kept for the four of us—Mama, my two younger sisters, and me. Also, with the proceeds, we were able to buy perishables like milk and eggs, as well as some vegetables and fruit. During Mama’s trips, I stayed home to care for my two younger sisters, Charlotte and Betty, which was quite a responsibility for one not quite 11 years old.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • House Call

    After two days of intermittent April rain, the wind turned, bearing Arctic cold and heavy wet snow; it rapidly covered the patchwork of fields that stretched from the barn to the line of pines along the river— his horizon since the day he had gone into hiding. From his tiny unglazed window, the view brought back memories of family winter vacations in Berchtesgaden and Kitzbühel. By the time he entered high school, Blumenfeld was already a first-rate Alpine skier, with dreams of a berth on the German Olympic team. Now snow, even at its most pristine, held no appeal; instead, it only added to his isolation. But for the wretched condition of his shoes, he would have attempted a short walk under cover of the approaching darkness. Maybe the weather will keep the RAF home so I can get a full night’s sleep, he thought. Unless the pain again kept him awake.

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