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

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  • Ghetto

    One of my favorite places to visit is Venice, Italy. Perhaps because I lived in Amsterdam for so many years, the water in and around Venice makes me feel connected to the city. 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 12louise lawrence israëlslouise lawrence-israëlsantisemitismghettos

  • 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 7escapeghettospoliceaktionfood

  • 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 7ghettosescaperescuersrighteous among the nationsparents

  • Don’t Ask for Soap

    Charlene Schiff (Shulamit Perlmutter), from Horochow, Poland, survived the Holocaust by hiding alone in the forests near her home.

    Tags:   charlene schiffechoes of memory, volume 6ghettosforced laborcollaboratorsmemory

  • The Kindnesses

    In June 1941, the Germans occupied Lithuania within three days. Shauliai, the town where we lived, was taken over on the third day. We had heard what had happened to the Jews in Kaunas and in other cities. My brother Jecheskel was a student at the university in Kaunas and he had told my parents that the Nazis and their collaborators were looting Jewish homes. Jecheskel suggested that my parents try to ask some of their Lithuanian friends to hold some of our valuable things for safekeeping. My parents asked a few friends and some agreed to help us.

    Tags:   nesse godinechoes of memory, volume 6ghettosmass shootingsrescuersfoodjewish communities before the war

  • Life Changes

    I was born in Mukacevo, Czechoslovakia. My family was a close and warm family. They took care of each other and lived intertwined lives. My uncle lived right next door to us with three cousins. My grandparents lived nearby and after my grandfather died, my grandmother came to live with us. Other family members, living in towns farther away, would come to visit once a month.

    Tags:   ruth cohenechoes of memory, volume 6aryanizationghettosdeportationsselectionauschwitzfamilyjewish communities before the war

  • My Reason for Writing My Story

    My family came to Romania in 1931 from Znojmo in the Czech Republic when I was about three years old. My parents moved us to Stanesti, a town in the Romanian province of Bukovina where my paternal grandparents lived. My father told my grandfather that he wanted to take the whole family to Palestine and my grandfather said that it was a good idea but he would have to find someone who would take the cow, the horse, and the chickens. Father, unfortunately, could not find anyone. My family consisted of my mother, my father, and my older sister. A lawyer by profession, my father became the chief civil official of the town and we lived in the house assigned to him in that position.

    Tags:   erika eckstutechoes of memory, volume 5ghettosmass shootingspogromsromaniafamilyjewish communities before the war

  • The Sonderkarte

    By the end of 1940, about half of the population from our city of 28,000 Jews, plus the Jews brought in from the neighboring towns, had already been deported. The Dulag (transit camp) was always full to capacity with Jews awaiting deportation either to labor or concentration camps. Jews started thinking of ways that they could be useful to the Germans so they could remain in place.

    Tags:   manya friedmanechoes of memory, volume 5deportationsforced laborfamilymemoryghettos

  • Spiritual Resistance—The Hanging

    Nineteen forty-three was a very cold winter. Life in the ghetto was very difficult. People did not have wood to heat their rooms; they burned every piece of wooden furniture to keep warm. The hunger was great—the small ration that was given to us could not keep us alive.

    Tags:   nesse godinechoes of memory, volume 4collaborationjewish resistancegestapoghettosfood

  • Searching for My Father’s Ashes

    For many years I have been sharing memories about my life as a prisoner under Nazi occupation during the time we call the Holocaust. I do so with the hope that humanity will learn the truth of what happened and, most of all, so they will not allow it to happen again to any human beings regardless of how they pray or how they look or where they came from. People always ask questions. They ask if I am still Jewish or if I believe in G-d. People also like to know if I went back home to Siauliai, Lithuania.

    Tags:   nesse godinechoes of memory, volume 4ghettoslife after the holocaustlithuaniaoccupationmemory

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