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

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  • To Save the World Entire

    Why was man created alone? Is it not true that the creator could have created the whole of humanity? But man was created alone to teach you that whoever kills one life kills the world entire, and whoever saves one life saves the world entire.
    —paraphrased from the Talmud

    Tags:   gideon friederechoes of memory, volume 7

  • Snippets from My Life, Unit 2: Coincidence to the Skeptics, Miracle to the Believers

    Oh, the hierarchy of fear. There are many dangerous people outside the house, and one has to recognize who they are. The least dangerous are the Wehrmacht1— these old men with their grey uniforms. They come only occasionally on patrol, as our hamlet is too small and too insignificant, so there is no standing garrison in it. We are warned that they can be quite dangerous, but once they come into the house and sit down, they are really nice. I am just seven years old, yet they teach me how to use the Mauser2 and the Schmeisser3, how to load them and how to take care of them. On another occasion they also showed me how to use a hand grenade. They sit inside because it is warm and they are tired and they usually bring some coffee, which Aunt Paulina brews for them. We can also drink some. Looking back, it was possibly ersatz—but at the time, I felt very important to be able to take a sip.

    Tags:   gideon friederechoes of memory, volume 7

  • Winter Coats

    Winter of 1942 was severe. In the Drohobycz ghetto the Germans had decided to exterminate the Jews. The ways to achieve this were by starving or freezing them to death. The food rations were extremely small and there was no coal to heat the homes. People tried to avoid starvation in any way they could. Many of those who before the war worked in professions or trades had to resort to begging—after selling or bartering all their possessions for food, they had no other choice. Cold and hunger combined made people’s lives miserable. As a result, many starved to death. In the spring and summer the misery was intensified by an outbreak of typhus caused by outrageously unsanitary conditions. There were frequent Aktions during which we hid in a hole dug under the floor of our apartment, or in the lumber factory where my father worked. There were often rumors about forthcoming Aktions, which made life so very tense.

    Tags:   marcel drimerechoes of memory, volume 7

  • To Give Up or Not

    In April 2012, President Barack Obama came to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to talk about the government’s efforts to fight genocide wherever it exists. He also announced awarding posthumously the Medal of Freedom to Jan Karski, a Polish hero whom we, Polish Jews, admire. The president addressed Holocaust survivors, sitting in the front rows, as those who “never gave up.”

    Tags:   marcel drimerechoes of memory, volume 7

  • Hiding

    The Germans entered Drohobycz June 30, 1941. Some of their first published orders deprived the Jews of their civil and legal rights. They confiscated items of value, such as fur coats and jewelry, as well as radios and guns that would help the Jews to be informed or resist the Germans. The Nazis used this loot to support the war effort. As a result there were no taxes imposed on German people during the war.

    Tags:   marcel drimerechoes of memory, volume 7

  • Escape from the Ghetto

    Conditions in the Drohobycz ghetto in the summer of 1943 were unbearable. They included hunger, frequent Aktions*, and indiscriminate beatings and killings. The Germans were forcing the Judenrat (Jewish Council) to deliver 100 women and old people every week for executions or deportation to Belzec. Constant fear was the order of the day. There were other signs that the ghetto would be liquidated soon, so my father decided to smuggle out my mother, my sister, Irena, and me by bribing the guard who was taking the workers to and from the ghetto. It was still dark when my mother, dressed in men’s clothing, hid my sister under her coat; my father took me the same way and we marched out of the ghetto.

    Tags:   marcel drimerechoes of memory, volume 7

  • The Town I Used to Call My Home

    The town I was born and raised in, Mukachevo, Czechoslovakia, was modern as well as quite old fashioned. There were horses and buggies bringing in wares from the neighboring farms to sell in the very large open market, which was filled with stalls and pushcarts. Cars and trucks also drove around the town. We also had telephones, although not in every house, but as I remember in all businesses. The town also had a theater.

    Tags:   ruth cohenechoes of memory, volume 7

  • My Dream of America

    My grandmother lived with us after my grandfather died in 1937. My parents did not want her to live by herself in my grandparents’ house. Among many other things she taught us as young children was the song “Old Man River” from Showboat, the song made famous by Paul Robeson. She also told us that in America each person, rich or poor, whatever race or religion, was equal. As a young child I certainly believed her.

    Tags:   ruth cohenechoes of memory, volume 7

  • The Jewish Hospital in Bratislava

    The hospital in Bratislava, where I spent a full year, from March 1946 to March 1947, recovering from tuberculosis (TB) on the spine, was a truly remarkably unique place. The doctors as well as the nurses were completely involved and interested in our cases. There were several other Holocaust survivors there, suffering from various types of TB and other ailments that had resulted from being in concentration camps.

    Tags:   ruth cohenechoes of memory, volume 7

  • My Father’s Pocket Watch

    Born in Paris, France, in 1935, Jacqueline fled with her family to the Vichy-controlled southern region of France, where they lived together under surveillance for the remainder of the war.

    Tags:   jacqueline mendels birnechoes of memory, volume 7