Read reflections and testimonies written by Holocaust survivors in their own words.
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Food Desired and Food Denied
November 17, 2022
I was seven years old in 1943 when my father disappeared. It was the fourth year of the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, and he was not at home. I kept asking my mother about my father, and her standard reply became, “Don’t worry—he is on a business trip and will be back as soon as he can.” At first, I believed her, but I wanted a fuller explanation. I missed my father terribly, but my mother never told me that he was assigned to a hard labor battalion or, later in 1944, that he was sent to Theresienstadt. She could not tell me the truth.
Putting a Name to a Hidden Face
November 16, 2022
Two of the most precious photographs I have of my family were taken at my brit milah, the ritual circumcision ceremony performed on all male Jewish babies when they are eight days old. Because I was born a year and a half into the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, my parents’ friends counseled against a circumcision. “It will identify him as being Jewish,” they said. My parents’ dilemma was solved when a pediatrician who examined me shortly after I was born told my father that I needed “a minor operation, called a circumcision.” My father then reminded him of our Jewish tradition and that I would be ritually circumcised. That is how family and friends came to gather in our home on December 1, 1941, to observe this first milestone of a Jewish life.
What I Learned from My Father
November 16, 2022
Father’s Day is just around the corner and I am looking forward to celebrating it. Being the father of six daughters and the grandfather of four fills me with joy, not to mention the expectations of surprise presents. Presents or no presents, the love of children and grandchildren is the best thing that any papa anywhere can get. And I get a lot. Unfortunately my father never had a chance to receive the same love from me. He died during the Holocaust when I, his only child, was not even two years old.
November 14, 2022
It was in the spring of 1944 during the time after my father had been taken to a slave labor camp, where he was assigned to building the Atlantic Wall to stop the Allies’ invasion. My mother, my sisters, and I were staying with the Galop family who had offered to take us into hiding so we wouldn’t be arrested and deported by the Gestapo, the French police, or the French militia. Monsieur Galop, who was a very talented builder—his job was to build sets for the movie studios—had erected a small shelter in their yard for our protection against the bombardments. I don’t think that flimsy construction would have saved us if a bomb had fallen in their yard, but it gave us comfort in case of danger.
December 28, 2020
February 1945 found me, Agi Laszlo (Geva), age 14, at a huge airplane spare parts factory in Calw, Germany, which was not far from Stuttgart. Together with my mother, Rosalia, and my sister, Shosha, I was transported from Auschwitz three months earlier in a group of 200 women, 180 of whom were Hungarian and 20 were Polish. As far as I knew, the war was still raging as I had not heard nor seen any signs of change.
The Invitation Back to Germany and the Apology to Make It Right
December 28, 2020
A barn was sold some 30 years after the war, not far from Calw, near Stuttgart, Germany. The buyer wanted it empty. When the last bunch of straw was moved from the back of the barn, suddenly an engraving became visible: a name, address, and a telephone number. The buyer needed an explanation. He wanted to know what it meant. The local school teacher was asked to come over and have a look. He was dumbfounded. All these years he had been sure that there had been no prisoners in his town during the war. There were no Jews, no forced laborers. He called the history professor of the nearby university. Together with the town mayor, they decided to phone the number engraved on the far wall of the barn and find out more about the barn’s Holocaust era-history. A lady from Budapest answered, invited them to visit, and agreed to be interviewed. The interview took three days.
October 23, 2019
We I came to the United States, I was 16 years old, and I went religiously to night school, anxious to learn everything about my new adopted country such as the language, the Bill of Rights, etc. Mrs. Durst, my teacher, was a very nice person and a good teacher. She stressed the greatness of the Constitution and the “Four Freedoms.” As time went on, she suggested I read the New York Times to improve my language skills. By that time, I spoke four languages and was able to read and write in all of them.
Many Times Born, Many Times Died
November 14, 2018
All of us have had the experience of being born one time. If you are a Holocaust survivor, like me, you may have been born many times and died many times, as well.
Were They Crazy?
November 1, 2017
“Are you crazy?” was the most frequently heard question by my parents from those who learned that my mother was pregnant with me. Under normal circumstances, no one should pose this question when a new child is about to be born. But, those were not normal circumstances, and neither was the time nor the place. The time was fall 1940; the place was Budapest, Hungary; and my parents were Jewish. In defense of those who questioned the sanity of my parents, here are some reasons why this question was not completely out of place.
My Father in Aurigny (Alderney)
November 1, 2017
In September 1943, Benjamin Garih, my father, received a summons. We didn’t know where they were going to send him. But, my father has always made a point to comply with the rules, and besides, he would not want to put his family in danger. He decided to go to this ominous designated rendezvous. I was five years old, and despite the commotion around me, I didn’t realize how threatening the situation was for my father, but also for us. When the day of his leaving came, he was ready. I remember that he was given a gas mask in a cylindrical metal box. As a child, it was like a toy for me that I would play with, putting it on. When he left, he had this box strap slung around his shoulder. I don’t remember what other luggage he had. I only remember this gas mask, a frightening reminder of the first world war.