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

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  • My Mothers

    I have been an orphan since August 14, 1942, but I have never thought of myself that way. At the May 14, 2019, meeting for Echoes of Memory, the survivor memoir writing group, I listened to two people read their writings. Both writers talked about their mothers and specific actions their mothers had taken. One person spoke of all the actions his mother took to save him and the family. The other writer spoke of the ways his mother had made his childhood a time of happiness and encouragement. Both writings made me feel very sad. It has made me think of my mother, but I cannot remember her at all.

    Tags:   esther starobinesther rosenfeld starobinechoes of memory, volume 13letterskindertransportmemory

  • Interconnections

    I don’t remember when I first met my cousin Suse. Suse was the daughter of my Aunt Rosa, one of my father’s sisters. Once I was an adult, I visited Suse whenever I was in London.  It was always fun and very English, these visits. She and her husband, Frank Underwood, lived in a lovely section of London on the third floor of an apartment building. No elevator here, just a lot of stairs. Making tea was a definite ritual in their home but somehow very relaxing. The teapot had to be warmed as well as the cups. Suse was very exacting in all she did. When Suse developed diabetes, she carefully adapted her favorite cake recipes so that she could still eat them. The Underwoods loved to walk all over London and take walking trips in other parts of England. When my husband, Fred, and I visited, we often spent time with them walking in a nearby park.

    Tags:   esther starobinesther rosenfeld starobinechoes of memory, volume 13life after the holocaustmemorykindertransport

  • Maiden Voyage

    Friday, the day of departure for our maiden voyage, had finally arrived. By 10 a.m. passengers began to embark, a very different and diverse group from those who had joined us in Gibraltar. For the most part, they were holiday makers or returning tourists. Hundreds of them, with bright smiling faces, walked up the wide gangway to be welcomed aboard by the purser’s representative. Before entering the ship they all turned back to give a quick wave to family or friends who had come to see them off on their journey. There appeared to be quite a number of American students returning home. They congregated in clusters on the decks and lounges excitedly comparing notes of their experiences while in Israel. Also noticeable were some of the older passengers, whose demeanor was that of anxious anticipation, possibly contemplating their reunion with long-lost relatives who had survived the war and made their way to the United States. The composition of the passengers had all the indications of what would turn out to be an interesting two weeks ahead of us. By mid-afternoon we were ready to sail. It looked as though all of Haifa had turned out to wish us bon voyage. The ships in the harbor gave their salutations as we slipped out of the harbor into the open sea. 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 12alfred traumkindertransportimmigrationnew york

  • Britain’s Response

    Britain's response to the mass violence against Jews on Kristallnacht (the “Night of Broken Glass”) on November 9-10, 1938, was to offer a safe haven to children at risk living under the Nazi yoke, and thus the Kindertransport program was born. By the time World War II broke out on September 1, 1939, approximately 10,000 children had arrived in Britain via the Kindertransport program. In many cases, parents made that heart-wrenching decision to send their children away without knowing if they would ever be reunited. But by taking that step, the parents saved their children’s lives. 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 12alfred traumczechoslovakiakindertransportisrael

  • Obligations

    My sister Bertl was always present in my life. Bertl was the person who guided our siblings and me to become a strong, cohesive family. She was opinionated and had a clear vision of what was right and wrong. Maybe it was her German birth. But she is gone now, as are my other three siblings. So, I ask myself, what are my obligations to keep the family strong and resilient? 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 12esther rosenfeld starobinesther starobinauschwitzkindertransportmemoryfamily

  • One Good Day

    By train and boat, and other means, I arrived in Thorpe, Norwich, England, in June 1939 to live with the Harrisons. Mr. Harrison, Uncle Harry, read a sign on the bulletin board at the shoe factory where he worked, asking for families willing to take refugee children from Germany. I was just past my second birthday and had been brought from Germany by an organization called the Kindertransport. While I had three sisters, each living in separate places in England, I arrived by myself.

    Tags:   esther rosenfeld starobinechoes of memory, volume 8kindertransportfamilymemory

  • The Gas Mask

    Herr Tamer lived at the end of the hall. He was a tall gaunt man, a very private man, or so it seemed to me as a nine year old—a lonely figure who responded pleasantly to my greeting when our paths crossed. One day he knocked at our door and asked if he could come in to listen to Hitler’s speech. He didn’t own a radio and knew we had one that, even though it was old, was better than nothing.

    Tags:   alfred traumechoes of memory, volume 7anti-jewish legislationantisemitismkindertransportminskparents

  • Aunt Hannah

    Yet again I had to go to the post office to retrieve the package from our Aunt Hannah. How embarrassing! The package was none the better after its trip from London to Washington, DC. I had to take the bus with my high school classmates to reach home. Hanging out from the package were arms and legs—yes, several—of woolen underwear. What was Aunt Hannah thinking? No one wore such items in America. How could she think my sisters and I would need them?

    Tags:   esther starobinechoes of memory, volume 6kindertransportunited statesfamilymemory

  • My Boots

    I love to look at the boots that are so stylish these days. There are so many different types but they all remind me of the little boots that are tucked away in a safe place in my home. My boots are brown and lace up the front. It is obvious that they have been worn a lot and patched again and again.

    Tags:   esther starobinechoes of memory, volume 5kindertransportmemoryparents

  • The Gift

    I suppose our home in Adelsheim, Germany, was typical of the homes found in that small town. My parents used part of the house, and the remainder was rented to two ladies. Though I have no memory of it, I have heard my sisters talk of the small parlor that was off-limits to them.

    Tags:   esther starobinechoes of memory, volume 1kindertransportimmigrationmemoryquakerslife after the holocaustdeportations

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