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

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  • Ashburn Colored School

    When Diane Saltzman, the Museum’s director of Survivor and Council Stewardship, sent me an e-mail to ask me to speak at a program in Ashburn, Virginia, at a schoolhouse that had been defaced with graffiti, I had already heard and read about the historic one-room Ashburn Colored School. The phrase “white power,” swastikas, profanities, and crude drawings were spray painted in black, blue, and red on the outside of the wooden walls and windows. Diane informed me that I was to speak for only a short time with other invited presenters. I accepted the invitation because I wanted to be part of that historic occasion, and I wanted to do something to confront hatred. I did not know where the school was located and what was being or would be done with it.

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 10susan warsinger

  • Sense of Being Jewish

    From my earliest memories, I have always had a sense of being Jewish. My father, who had grown up as an Orthodox Jew, made sure we observed all the Jewish traditions. My mother, who wanted to please him, kept a kosher home. She prepared all the traditional dishes for the Sabbath, and we celebrated all the Jewish holidays with great enthusiasm. My brother and I accompanied my father to the synagogue almost every Saturday. It was there that I learned that it was important to pray to God and that God liked it when the Jewish men worshipped him.

    Tags:   susan warsingerechoes of memory, volume 9

  • Feeling Good

    Another year of observing the Days of Remembrance at our United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has just passed. The revered event that took place was not much different from other years except that I was there with my two brothers most of the time. On the morning of the first day of the DOR, my brother Joe and I attended a program on our Museum’s collection as well as the dedication of a display about the Shapell Collections, Conservation, and Research Center that is currently under construction. It was held in the Hall of Witness of the Museum. Other Holocaust survivors and I joined the Shapell family in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for this new center to be built. I was feeling good because my brother was in the audience and sharing this experience with me.

    Tags:   susan warsingerechoes of memory, volume 9

  • Bringing the Lessons Home

    When the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum first opened in 1993, there were no tours of the Permanent Exhibit. After my fellow survivor, Susan Berlin, and I came to volunteer at the Museum we wanted to conduct tours for the many high school students who visited the Permanent Exhibition. We met with three staff people in the Education Department and they gave workshops on how to conduct educational tours of the Permanent Exhibition for a few volunteers and some staff. This was a significant beginning for many tours to follow.

    Tags:   susan warsingerechoes of memory, volume 9

  • Memories and Defining Yourself

    In an interview at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum a few weeks ago I was asked, “Do your experiences in the Holocaust define you as a person?” Before writing about my answer to this question I would like to review some of my thoughts and questions about this matter. Do memories make us the person we are? Sometimes I have wondered if I would be a different person if I had not been born in Germany when the Nazis and Hitler came to power and when they immediately set out to implement anti-Jewish policies.

    Tags:   susan warsingerechoes of memory, volume 8

  • Hulda and Tante Anna

    I sometimes think about why I never met any of my grandparents. They lived in a small town in Poland called Kolomaya, which is now part of the Ukraine. My father told me that he left his family when he was 16 and immigrated to Germany because he did not want to join the Polish army. He acquired a job in a shoe store in Dusseldorf and made a life for himself. My mother also lived in Poland with her large family of seven brothers and sisters. She revealed to me when I was an adult, that since her family was poor and had many children, her mother gave her away to her well-off sister who lived in Viersen, Germany. This was my mother’s aunt and my great-aunt, Tante Anna. I was really astonished and had much compassion for my mother, because I had experienced this kind of separation from her during the Holocaust and I knew exactly what it felt like.

    Tags:   susan warsingerechoes of memory, volume 8

  • The Berlin Conference

    When I heard that the World Federation of Jewish Child Survivors of the Holocaust and Descendants Conference was going to be held in Berlin, Germany, I felt very ambivalent about going. I was hesitant because my memories as a child born in Bad Kreuznach, Germany, were still painful because of the atrocities that the Nazis committed there. I felt uncomfortable listening to the German language and was suspicious about Germans my age and older. When new acquaintances asked me where I was born, I usually responded that I had been living in Washington, DC, for a long time. Only if they pushed me and asked where I was born did I reluctantly tell them. I did not want them to think that Germany was my “homeland,” because I never thought that it was. On the other hand, I was enthusiastic about going to Berlin, because I wanted to confront these feelings and finally get over them.

    Tags:   susan warsingerechoes of memory, volume 8

  • American Friends Service Committee Refugee Case Files 7219 and 7321

    When the director of the OSE’s Chateau des Morelles children’s home in France called me to her office to tell me that our parents had found us and that my brother and I would be going to the United States, I was overjoyed and my entire being shook with anticipation of seeing my mother and father again. I had no idea when or how my parents had gotten to the United States from Germany.

    Tags:   susan warsingerechoes of memory, volume 8

  • The Pineapple Voyage

    The ship, the Serpa Pinto, was Portuguese. It looked a lot like the St. Louis, which is prominently exhibited on the fourth floor of the Museum. It was painted black with red lettering on its side and loomed above us. My brother Joe and I were among the 56 children who ascended the gangplank on September 10, 1941. We had arrived in Lisbon after traveling by train from Brout Vernet to Marseilles, over the Pyrenees, through Spain, and then to Portugal. The Quakers and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society helped all of us, from France and Germany, obtain passports and tickets to come to America. Only six of these children had parents who were already in the United States. My brother and I were two of those six.

    Tags:   susan warsingerechoes of memory, volume 7

  • One of Many Tours

    I did not want to get up that morning because I knew it was very cold outside. I would have a long walk from the Metro to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The hike would entail walking briskly down Independence Avenue, where the wind would surely blow in my face and I would be frozen by the time I got to the Raoul Wallenberg Place entrance of the Museum. I got up anyway because I had committed myself to being one of the tour guides for the 93 members of the Frederick Presbyterian Church who were arriving at the Museum at 9 a.m. that day. Luke, from Visitor Services, had e-mailed me and asked that I participate because he knew me. He had introduced me when I gave presentations to visitors in the Wexner Center, and we had become friends. It was his mother’s church and he was excited to have a survivor tour guide.

    Tags:   susan warsingerechoes of memory, volume 7