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

Blog Home > mass atrocities

  • Visit to L’viv: Janowska

    October 15, 2013, was the first time I had stepped on the soil of L’viv in 68 years. I was born here in 1941. I was hidden here—first in a bunker in the barn of my dziadzio (grandpa in Polish), next in a tunnel bunker in the Borszczowice Forest, along with 30 or so other Jews. Later, I was hidden in the home of the Schwarczynskis, a retired Polish Catholic engineer and his wife. I was the “niece” of their housekeeper, Lucia Nowicka (later she became my babcia, or grandmother).

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 11julie keeferjanowskajewish communities before the warmass atrocitiesremembrance

  • 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 drimerjewish communities before the warmass atrocitiesrescuerspolandmemorials

  • True Faith

    In October 1944, my mother and sister were killed in the Massacre of Stare Hory, in the mountains of Slovakia. I was wounded and left staring at my dead mother, who lay on her back with her eyes open. I could not understand why she was not getting up. A Jewish partisan, Henry (Adam) Herzog, took me away, promising that my mother would join me later. He took me to his unit, but quickly realized that a wounded child is a liability to a fighting unit. So, after seven days, he brought me to the village of Bully and left me in the house of Paulina and Jozef Striharzsik, promising them a reward if they kept me or death if they did not. Given that choice, they kept me.

    Tags:   gideon friederechoes of memory, volume 9mass atrocitiesrescuersslovakiafamily

  • 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 8belzecmass atrocitiesoccupied polandperpetrators

  • A Headstone in the Air

    The Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia—acres of land located on the Wilmington River—is visited every year by thousands of tourists. It is a unique burial place dating back to the 18th century. In addition to the famous Georgians that are interred there, there is an unusual collection of statues telling the story of the people whose graves they adorn as well as an assortment of mausoleums and headstones. The most touching are the statuettes on the graves of young children. One reads: “Papa’s Sweetheart.” The moss-draped mighty old oaks stand erect protecting the elegant statuary and headstones. The cemetery is on the National Registry of Historic Places.

    Tags:   manya friedmanechoes of memory, volume 4auschwitzmass atrocitiesfamilymemory