Read reflections and testimonies written by Holocaust survivors in their own words.
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Jarosław, Living as Catholics
November 16, 2022
When our captor left us, the three of us found ourselves standing on a sidewalk of a strange city. We had no luggage, little money, only the few zlotys that he returned. Mother spotted a little café and decided to walk in. She requested some milk for my sister and then started asking customers if anybody knew of a place where we could find lodging. A young man got up and said he knew a washerwoman who took lodgers and offered to take us there
What I Am Best At
October 7, 2022
I know that I am very good at many, many things. I am a good wife, mother, friend, worker, and was very good at sports, mostly tennis. But …
October 22, 2020
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.
Manfred’s Last Letter
October 23, 2019
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.
November 14, 2018
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.
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.
A Bedtime Story
November 1, 2013
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.
November 1, 2011
Six yellow flowers, four rather aged pieces of vanilla cake, three cookies of different designs that had been around for quite a while, a few pieces of candy that had wrappers with French writing in large red and blue letters, five dates stuffed with coconut, and several doilies cut out of paper napkins daintily peeking out below the delicacies were all lavishly laid out on a tray that had been used many times. It came out of the old kitchen of the Chateau de Morelles. This brown tray, so caringly decorated, was placed on my bed before I woke up early on my tenth birthday.
The Last Letter
November 1, 2011
The last letter my parents sent from the camps in France arrived in May 1942. My sister, Bertl, held on to this letter and the others from our parents for 68 years. When she came to live in Washington, DC, in 1947, the letters traveled with her. Bertl has held on to the letters through all her moves in the DC area.
Summer of ‘42
October 19, 2008
For many baby boomers out there, the movie was a defining moment of adolescence. This new musical version is funny, wistful, and entertaining from start to end. I hope you’ll join us to relive your youth, or to experience for the first time this portrait of a young man growing up just a bit too fast.