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

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  • My Community

    There are many places I have lived in since 1939, when I was thrown out of my house and first had to relocate. This was in Poland and my mother, sister, and I were trying desperately to survive under the Soviet, and then German occupation. My community at that time were the other frightened people who were also trying to find a safe place. After the Germans occupied us, being Jewish, we had only one destination and that was a concentration camp and death.

    Tags:   halina yasharoff peabodyechoes of memory, volume 14occupied polandimmigrationisraelfamilyunited kingdommemory

  • Jarosław, Living as Catholics

    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

    Tags:   halina yasharoff peabodyechoes of memory, volume 14hidingreligionlettersoccupied polandgestapo

  • My Story

    I was born in Kraków, Poland, and we lived in Zaleszczyki. My mother was an all-around athlete: a champion swimmer, skier, ice skater, and horse rider. She made sure that I would follow in her footsteps and she taught me to skate and ski when I was five. She also taught me to knit, crochet, and embroider, all skills she excelled at.

    Tags:   halina yasharoff peabodyechoes of memory, volume 14occupied polandanti-jewish legislationmass shootingshidingdeportationsparents

  • The Bridge

    The prettiest bridge I have ever seen is the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

    Tags:   halina yasharoff peabodyechoes of memory, volume 13escapeoccupied polandparents

  • Tracing Roots through Our Ancestors

    I remember visits to my maternal grandparents every Christmas. Though we are Jewish, this was the time we made our annual visit. My grandfather Stefan (Shmuel) Schreiber worked as an accountant for the Wedel Chocolate Factory and used to bring foil paper so I could shape it into a ball to play with. Grandmother Regina was always at her sewing machine, where she had a lot of treasures, including a fascinating box of buttons, which I played with when I was five years old. They lived in the center of Krakow in an apartment with a balcony. This was very important, my mother told me, because it was used to great effect to hide the Christmas tree from my grandfather’s notice. He was liberal, but the tree was just too much for him to allow. My grandfather had moved the family from a suburb of Krakow into the city so the children could go to Polish public schools. They didn’t speak Yiddish at home, only Polish.

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 11halina yasharoff peabodyoccupied polandremembrancefamilymemory

  • Learning about the Holocaust

    It took many years before I learned about the enormity of the Holocaust, even though I had lived through it. I only knew my own story, which started when I was not yet seven years old. My first memory is losing my father when the war started in September 1939. The most prevalent feeling throughout my ordeal was fear, which increased as time went by and as I understood more clearly what was happening to us because we were Jews. My family was not observant, so my religion did not give me any comfort.

    Tags:   halina yasharoff peabodyechoes of memory, volume 8hidingmass shootingsoccupied polandvolunteering at the museum

  • 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

  • Images Etched into my Mind

    He was only nine years old when Germany invaded Poland. The youngest of three children, he was a skinny little boy on spindly legs, agile body, and a small pale face. The only outstanding features were his two large brown eyes, mischievous and alert. Since Jewish children no longer were allowed to attend school, he became restless and was constantly on the move.

    Tags:   manya friedmanechoes of memory, volume 2occupied polandfamilyburden of memorydeportationanti-jewish legislation

  • The Promise

    I brought her home and had a difficult time finding the right place for her. At first, I put her on the couch in the living room. She disturbed me there—she was too prominent. Now she sits on a bunch of pillows in the corner of the living room where she seems comfortable, content, and not demanding.

    Tags:   charlene schiffechoes of memory, volume 1occupied polandghettosdeportationsfamilymemorypre-war life