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

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  • Gitele

    In September 1938, when I was one year old, my family left our home in Berlin and crossed the border into Belgium. Although we had entered Belgium illegally, we were given residency permits; however, my father was not allowed to work legally. So he traded in foreign currencies, such as US dollars and British pounds, on the black market.

    Tags:   harry markowiczechoes of memory, volume 7belgiumdeportationjewish councilsoccupationmemory

  • Dunkirk: May 1940

    Following the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, Britain and France declared war on Germany. The British Expeditionary Force was posted at the French-Belgian border to prevent Germany from invading France. Between the two world wars, France had built the Maginot Line—formidable fortifications along its border with Germany. On May 10, 1940, Germany invaded the neutral countries of Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands in order to bypass the Maginot Line and to invade France where its defenses were weakest. British troops then moved into Belgium to try to stop the German advance toward France.

    Tags:   harry markowiczechoes of memory, volume 7belgiumfrancerefugeesmemoryparents

  • A Bedtime Story

    During World War I, Germany invaded neutral Belgium with the intention of eventually conquering Paris. Major battles took place on Belgian soil and the country was left in ruins at the end of the “Great War.” Remembering the atrocities committed by the Germans during that war, most Belgians hated the “Boches” even before their country was invaded once again by Germany on May 10, 1940. Partly because of that, many Belgians were willing to help Jews, although the penalty was death or deportation to a concentration camp.

    Tags:   harry markowiczechoes of memory, volume 7belgiumdeportationsgestapolettersmemory

  • Revisiting Memories

    Early in 1942, when I wasn’t quite five years old, a German officer accompanied by two soldiers came to our apartment in Brussels. I remember being in the room that faced the street with my mother and the officer. The two soldiers were elsewhere in the apartment. The officer was searching through an armoire, possibly for foreign currency or other valuables, when the doorbell rang.

    Tags:   harry markowiczechoes of memory, volume 6belgiumoccupationfamilymemory

  • Liberation Day

    Four years go by before I see another British soldier. The last one had been near the French-Belgian border when the British Expeditionary Force was being evacuated from the nearby beaches at Dunkirk. Again I’m with my mother. Before leaving the apartment she has told me that the Germans have run away but I don’t understand where we are going and why my father is not coming with us. She tries to explain to me it has been two years since he has been outside and he is not ready to face people. Along the way, many people are rushing in the same direction. My mother too is in a hurry but we pass a burning tank and I stop to look at it. No one else pays any attention but I’m fascinated by the flames rising from the turret. My mother pulls me away and we merge with the people who are passing by us. We arrive in a park where we join a large crowd of cheering people.

    Tags:   harry markowiczechoes of memory, volume 6liberationmemoryparents

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