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

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  • My Rescuers

    During the fall of 1942, concerned about the danger that we might be rounded up and taken away, our parents sent my sisters and me to a farm in Thoiry, outside of Paris, where we stayed with two ladies, Madame Arthus and another lady, who I think was her sister. (I never saw a man there; the men had probably been taken prisoner with the French army during the Battle of France in the summer of 1940.) They were unaware that they were hosting Jewish children, because my parents had not told them, explaining only that we would be better fed on a farm than in a Paris suburb where food was rationed and scarce.

    Tags:   albert garihechoes of memory, volume 13hidingliberationrescuers

  • Despair and Happiness

    How can the same day be the worst and the best?

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 12agi gevadeath marchliberation

  • America

    I was six years old when I first heard of Americans. The first ones I saw were our liberators. It was in the summer of 1944, and I was hiding in a Catholic boarding school in Montfermeil, a suburb northeast of Paris. Paris was liberated on August 25, 1944, and we were liberated two days later. A student who had left the school came back shouting, “The Allies are coming! The Allies are coming!” So, we all went to the main street to welcome them: tanks, trucks, and jeeps with soldiers with different kinds of helmets and smiles on their faces, giving away chocolate, chewing gum, and even cigarettes. They were our liberators. The headmistress of my school, who was probably the one who knew about my situation as a hidden Jewish child, was holding my hand. (I was the youngest student in that school, and she wanted to make sure I was safe.) I was told they were Americans, and it was the first time I heard of Americans and America. I had heard of the Germans, of course, of the English, of the Italians, but who were these boys? Where did they come from? I was just six, after all. 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 12albert garihhidingliberationunited statesus army

  • The Staircase

    In the last eight months before we were liberated, plane traffic over Holland increased a lot. Most planes were bombers originating in Germany, flying over Holland to reach England to bomb British cities. Or our Allies came from England and also flew over Holland to reach Germany and bomb German cities.

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 11louise lawrence israëlslouise lawrence-israëlshidingliberationmemory

  • The Aftermath: Right after Liberation, Silence Begins

    On April 28, 1945, in Garmish Parten Kirchen, Germany, the 179 Hungarian women had 179 opinions of their whereabouts, what to do, and where to go. My mother, sister Shosha, and I looked at one another, cried, hugged, and declared that we had made it in spite of all that we had gone through. In spite of the Nazis’ intentions and efforts. We were relieved that we did not have to be part of the forced death march any more. Our strength had been spent, and we just wanted to sit down due to exhaustion. I knew that if I would have had to march for one more day, I would not have remained alive. 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 11agi gevaliberationlife after the holocaustus army

  • May 1945 and May 2015

    The sun is warm and so bright. I can feel the warmth on my face. It feels good. The noises around me are different; I have not heard them before. I am a little afraid, but my brother is holding my hand and my parents are with us. We hear people talking. Some are singing. It sounds nice, but I do not understand what is going on around me. I do not hear the frightening noise of the alarm that always sounds before an airplane flies over. The airplanes make a noise that we do not like.

    Tags:   louise lawrence-israëlslouise lawrence israëlsechoes of memory, volume 9liberationfamilymemorymemorials

  • Letter to a World War II Veteran

    Dear Veteran,

    This is to express my gratitude for your sacrifice during World War II. I was a hidden child in Paris, France, pursued by Nazi invaders and their French collaborators who were doing the dirty job of rounding up people like me to send us to the gas chambers in Auschwitz. Were it not for people like you, who braved the enemy fire to liberate Europe from the tyranny of the Nazi regime, I might not be here today.

    Tags:   albert garihechoes of memory, volume 8hidingliberationmemory

  • My Friend Lola

    A new year of uncertainty had just begun, 1945. It would be another year of hunger, pain, and misery. As I contemplated our future with my best friend, Lola, I wondered how much longer we could endure the brutalities. I could sense from the expression on her face that she was more concerned about the immediate, the present moment. She had not been feeling well for several days but did not dare complain, nor go to our camp doctor. In a labor camp there is no room for the sick or those unable to work.

    Tags:   manya friedmanechoes of memory, volume 7liberationravensbrückfriendsmemory

  • 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

  • Trust

    May 5, 1945—the war in Holland is over. My parents and Selma, our friend, are so happy. My brother and I understand that the atmosphere in our attic is changing, but we do not understand the exact reason for the smiles on the faces of the three adults. My dad is running to the cupboard to get our last tin of cookies. Those cookies have helped us during the hunger winter, when we did not have much to eat. Dad opens the tin and puts it on the floor, and he tells us we can eat as many cookies as we like. That is fun. With a cookie in each hand we do not know where to start. After one cookie we are not hungry anymore and we put the other cookies back for next time. This must be the meaning of peace, eating cookies, we think.

    Tags:   louise lawrence-israëlslouise lawrence israëlsechoes of memory, volume 6liberationlife after the holocaustmemoryparents

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