Read reflections and testimonies written by Holocaust survivors in their own words.
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November 16, 2022
Aix-les-Bains is an idyllic thermal bath resort located in a basin formed by the French Alps to one side and the Jura mountains to the other, and is a place frequented by such luminaries as Queen Victoria and the Aga Khan. But to me Aix stands for a way of living that has guided me since I was 15.
September 30, 2022
How difficult it is to identify one thing I learned from all the different people who raised me. My parents, of course, were the first people I must think about. My instinct tells me they took advantage of an opportunity, and trusted family and strangers. I think this trust was really learning to adapt to new situations.
The Kilt and the Love of My Mom
October 22, 2020
Fabric was scarce in the Netherlands after the war was over. The stores were mostly empty. Factories did not have the machines to make fabric or clothing. The machines were either beyond repair or had been stolen by the Nazis and sent to Germany.
Tommy Guns and Other War Toys
October 22, 2020
Following the liberation of Belgium in September 1944, my parents, siblings, and I came out of hiding and our lives started returning to normal. As a child born shortly before the start of World War II, my memory of a “normal” life was very limited. We got back together as a family and soon after moved into a row house at 33 rue Paul Leduc, in a quiet neighborhood of Brussels where we knew no other Jews. Whether that was a choice or happenstance, I don’t know.
November 13, 2018
If someone could grant me one wish, I would ask, without hesitation, for perfect pitch. The people I envy are the ones who can play music by ear. I love music and would love to be able to play an instrument, any instrument. Although if a second request would be honored, my choice of instrument would be cello or maybe clarinet.
How Did the Holocaust Shape Me as a Jew?
November 1, 2015
I was born in Paris in 1938 to Jewish parents who had emigrated from Turkey in the 1920s, as they no longer felt secure in a new modern nationalist Turkey born from the ashes of the former Ottoman Empire. In Turkey, my parents had been educated in schools from the Alliance Israélite Universelle and were already perfectly fluent in French. At these schools they had received a Jewish education better than I ever received in France in the 1950s. There I only attended public schools. My Jewish education was reduced to bare minimum preparation for my bar mitzvah, which I quickly forgot, as we never went to synagogue afterwards.
To Give Up or Not
November 1, 2013
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.”
November 1, 2011
Six yellow flowers, four rather aged pieces of vanilla cake, three cookies of different designs that had been around for quite a while, a few pieces of candy that had wrappers with French writing in large red and blue letters, five dates stuffed with coconut, and several doilies cut out of paper napkins daintily peeking out below the delicacies were all lavishly laid out on a tray that had been used many times. It came out of the old kitchen of the Chateau de Morelles. This brown tray, so caringly decorated, was placed on my bed before I woke up early on my tenth birthday.
Negotiating with the Gestapo
September 18, 2005
After Kristallnacht, I returned to my hometown in Bremen, in northwest Germany. A number of Jews had been released from concentration camps. I had been set free after eight days of imprisonment. I was then in Würzburg, Bavaria, where I had gone to school. The Nazis called these arrests “protective custody.” From whom did we need protection?
September 21, 2003
In Berlin, during the fall of 1943, the devil’s den—that is, Adolf Eichmann’s headquarters—was hit by a bomb from an American plane, and the SS decided on immediate repairs. My parents and I had just been bombed out for the second time and were staying temporarily at the Jewish Hospital.