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

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  • Righteous Among the Nations

    A few weeks ago, I received a call from a man living in Canada who told me that he is a nephew of Zofia Sawinska, a person who saved me and my family during the Holocaust. He has a lot of documents about his family and how they saved the lives of many more Jews.

    Tags:   marcel drimerechoes of memory, volume 13

  • “Volunteering” for Service in Poland

    Government Agricultural Farms known as Panstwowe Gospodarstwa Rolnicze (PGRs) were established in the late 1940s on large farms confiscated from rich farmers. These farms were now owned by the government, as well as the large farms in the Regained Territories incorporated into Poland from Germany after World War II. They were fashioned on the Soviet Kolkhozes (collective farms), and were equally unproductive. Many farmers left the PGRs for a somewhat better life in towns and, as a result, there was a shortage of farm workers. 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 12marcel drimer

  • Small World

    My 13th birthday on May 1, 1947, was approaching, and my parents decided that I should have a bar mitzvah. At that time my family lived in Wałbrzych, a formerly German town where many of the refugees from the Polish territories taken over by the Soviet Union had settled. Wałbrzych was a “Wild West” town, full of people from all over Poland—Germans waiting deportation to Germany, criminals, looters, fortune seekers, and about 4,000 Jews. We left Drohobycz, where I was born, because it became a part of the Ukrainian Republic of the Soviet Union. 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 12marcel drimer

  • My “Career” in the Polish Army

    In the 1950s in communist Poland, military service was mandatory for all men starting at age 18. Physically fit university students had to attend officer training courses. Most high-ranking officers of the Polish Armed Forces were Poles born and educated in Russia. Each university trained officers in a different specialty; ours was military engineers, sometimes called Sappers. One day each week, in my case on Tuesday, we would put on our uniforms and attend classes and practice at the shooting range. We studied the structure and strategy of the US Armed Forces as the enemy that we eventually might face in the next war. 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 12marcel drimer

  • Interview with Polish TV

    On January 27, 2018, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Polish government passed a bill that would make it illegal to accuse the Polish nation or Polish people of complicity in Nazi war crimes. 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 11marcel drimer

  • Trip to Drohobycz

    My “pilgrimage” to Drohobycz started a few days after the Holocaust Days of Remembrance and my own First Person interview and after my talks to high schools and synagogues about the Holocaust. That work turned out to be a kind of preparation for the exhausting, moving, and emotional trip that awaited me. Ania and I left Washington, DC, on May 9 for the beautiful landscapes of the Italian lakes where we spent the following eight days with my sister, Irena, and her husband, Manes. The overwhelming feeling of peace and serenity I felt there did not bring back the dark memories of the Holocaust.

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 10marcel drimer

  • Coming to America

    Fifty years ago in May, I fulfilled my dream of coming to America.

    Tags:   marcel drimerechoes of memory, volume 8

  • The First Few Days

    Germany attacked Russia on June 22, 1941, even though the two countries signed a pact of nonaggression in August 1939. The attack was code named Operation Barbarossa; it was the largest invasion in the history of warfare. Many Russian generals did not trust Germany and tried to convince Stalin to prepare for an attack. Stalin did not believe the generals and in his paranoia, ended up “eliminating” most of these generals. So when Germany attacked, Russia’s armed forces were not prepared. They retreated in disarray, while the loudspeakers continued to blare patriotic, heroic music and reported victories of the Red Army against the invaders.

    Tags:   marcel drimerechoes of memory, volume 8

  • Winter Coats

    Winter of 1942 was severe. In the Drohobycz ghetto the Germans had decided to exterminate the Jews. The ways to achieve this were by starving or freezing them to death. The food rations were extremely small and there was no coal to heat the homes. People tried to avoid starvation in any way they could. Many of those who before the war worked in professions or trades had to resort to begging—after selling or bartering all their possessions for food, they had no other choice. Cold and hunger combined made people’s lives miserable. As a result, many starved to death. In the spring and summer the misery was intensified by an outbreak of typhus caused by outrageously unsanitary conditions. There were frequent Aktions during which we hid in a hole dug under the floor of our apartment, or in the lumber factory where my father worked. There were often rumors about forthcoming Aktions, which made life so very tense.

    Tags:   marcel drimerechoes of memory, volume 7

  • To Give Up or Not

    In April 2012, President Barack Obama came to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to talk about the government’s efforts to fight genocide wherever it exists. He also announced awarding posthumously the Medal of Freedom to Jan Karski, a Polish hero whom we, Polish Jews, admire. The president addressed Holocaust survivors, sitting in the front rows, as those who “never gave up.”

    Tags:   marcel drimerechoes of memory, volume 7

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