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

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  • My Sister Irena

    My sister, Irena, was born on the 4th of July 1936. As a child she was blond and blue-eyed. Her nickname is Mila, which in Polish means nice. Mila and I had an idyllic childhood, playing together at the grounds of the lumber factory where my father worked.

    Tags:   marcel drimerechoes of memory, volume 14polandbelzecpogromhidingfamilyrescuers

  • 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 13hidinglife after the holocaustrighteous among nationsrescuers

  • 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

  • Arthur and Helga

    All I know about my early life comes from photographs and the stories my mother told me. Yesterday, I received a photograph I had never seen before. It opened a whole new chapter, and it left me stunned and speechless. It is the earliest picture I have of me together with my mother. The photo was one of many I received in an email from an unremembered friend, Arthur Friederizi.

    Tags:   alfred münzerechoes of memory, volume 13hidingrescuersmemory

  • People Have Choices

    The Museum has the motto “What You Do Matters,” and it is so true. 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 12george salamonarrow crosshungaryresistancerescuers

  • A Letter to Olivia

    Dear Olivia, 

    Last month I met your dad at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA. He was in the audience when I gave a talk about my family’s experience during the Holocaust. It was the first time he heard an account by an actual survivor of that terrible chapter in the world’s history. Afterwards he came up to me with tears in his eyes and said, “I am a young father and have a one-year-old daughter. Who will tell her your story when she grows up?” He then asked whether I would write a letter to you that you could read when you are old enough to understand the history and the lessons of the Holocaust that I shared that evening.

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 12alfred münzeranti-jewish legislationdenunciationhidingrescuers

  • Guests

    There is an ancient Jewish belief that there are seven imaginary, mystical guests, called Ushpizin in Aramaic, who visit families on Sukkot, the Festival of Tabernacles that commemorates the protection afforded by the Eternal as the Israelites wandered the desert. The guests, one for each day of the holiday, are said to be the biblical figures Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph, and David. Each is invited in turn, with a prayer formulated by 16th-century Kabbalists, to join the family in the sukkah, the temporary shelter built of natural materials that is at the heart of the holiday. 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 11alfred münzerremembrancerescuersfamilyholidays

  • Collateral Damage

    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. 

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 11harry markowiczallied powershidingrescuerslettersfamily

  • 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

  • A Letter to the Late Mademoiselle Jeanne

    In the Permanent Exhibition at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, there is a plaque indicating that Jeanne Daman-Scaglione has been recognized by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations. The plaque reads: “A Roman Catholic, Daman became a teacher, and later headmistress, of the Jewish kindergarten ‘Nos Petits’ in Brussels. When arrests and deportations of Jews began in 1942, she worked with Belgian and Jewish resistance units, helping to find hiding places for 2,000 children throughout Belgium. Daman also helped rescue many Jewish men about to be deported as slave laborers by obtaining false papers for them.”

    Tags:   harry markowiczechoes of memory, volume 9rescuershidingrighteous among the nations

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