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

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  • The War Is Over (Or Is It Ever?)

    In 1955, four years after my family's arrival in the United States from Balgium, I graduated from Garfield High School in Seattle. Although the student population was extremely diverse culturally, religiously, and racially, during my time there I felt like an outsider—even after I became fluent in English and made new friends. 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 12harry markowicz

  • Manfred’s Last Letter

    During the Nazi occupation of Belgium, the mail played an essential role in my family’s life. Letters were practically the only means for members of my family who were living in hiding to keep in touch with each other. The receipt of a letter signified the writer was safe, at least at the time it was mailed or handed over to a non-Jewish person for mailing. 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 12harry markowicz

  • Leaving Nazi Germany

    In 1938, my family was living in Berlin while the Nazis were intensifying the repression and violence against Jews. Late that summer, my father took my two siblings on a train to Aachen, a spa city near the borders of Belgium and the Netherlands. My sister, Rosi, was ten years old and my brother, Mani, was a year younger. I was just one year old, so my mother and I stayed home. During the train ride, Rosi shared with Mani what she had overheard at home: this was not a vacation as they had been told. As a matter of fact, they were going to Aachen to cross the border into Belgium. 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 12harry markowicz

  • They Are Coming for Me

    It's 5 A.M. A brief knock on the door and it opens. Simultaneously, the bright lights go on in the room. A small man wearing a white jacket walks in, carrying what looks like a box with a handle similar to what a hot dog vendor uses at a baseball game. It contains plastic tubes organized by the color of their corks. “A small pinch … .” That’s how phlebotomists warn you as they stick a needle in one of your veins. I used to be squeamish, but by now it’s become routine. Nevertheless, I look away as the needle is inserted in my arm and my blood begins to fill the small tubes.

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 11harry markowicz

  • Collateral Damage

    The much anticipated Allied landing in Normandy began on June 6, 1944. In addition to ground forces, large formations of Allied bombers—Americans flying at high altitudes in the daytime and the British at lower altitudes at night—were increasingly trying to disrupt the movement of German troops and supplies toward the front. Air raids of bridges, railroad junctures, and airports became almost routine in Belgium, where my family had taken refuge after fleeing from Berlin before the start of World War II. With revenge in our hearts, we cheered for the Allied airmen while hoping we would not become their unintended victims. 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 11harry markowicz

  • 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 markowicz

  • On Becoming an American

    One bright spring day in 1956, my parents and I nervously faced a federal judge sitting in his private office in downtown Seattle, Washington. We were seated across from him at his desk. During the previous several months, the three of us had spent many hours studying a booklet in preparation for this day. The booklet contained questions and answers about the Constitution of the United States, the structure of the federal government, and some of the major historical events of this country. After asking us each several questions, easier ones for my parents, harder ones for me, the judge informed us with a very large smile that we had passed the test; he was ready to swear us in as naturalized citizens of the United States of America.

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 10harry markowicz

  • 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 9

  • A Letter to the Late Mademoiselle Jeanne

    In the Permanent Exhibition at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, there is a plaque indicating that Jeanne Daman-Scaglione has been recognized by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations. The plaque reads: “A Roman Catholic, Daman became a teacher, and later headmistress, of the Jewish kindergarten ‘Nos Petits’ in Brussels. When arrests and deportations of Jews began in 1942, she worked with Belgian and Jewish resistance units, helping to find hiding places for 2,000 children throughout Belgium. Daman also helped rescue many Jewish men about to be deported as slave laborers by obtaining false papers for them.”

    Tags:   harry markowiczechoes of memory, volume 9

  • The Reading of Names

    Kristallnacht, the nationwide pogrom against the Jewish community in Germany, Austria, and the occupied part of Czechoslovakia, occurred during the night of November 9-10, 1938, and was organized by the SA paramilitary troops who were joined by civilians. By then, the borders were closed; in any case, almost no country accepted Jews who wanted to leave the Third Reich. A short time before that event took place, a policeman who was a friend of the family (years earlier his fiancée had been our family’s maid) warned my father that the persecution of Jews in Germany was going to become much worse and that we should leave the country as soon as possible.

    Tags:   harry markowiczechoes of memory, volume 8

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