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

Blog Home > susan warsinger

  • 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 8rigafoodgrandparentsmemory

  • 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 8life after the holocaustremembrancememorialsgermany

  • 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 8immigrationquakersvolunteering at the museum

  • 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 7life after the holocaustimmigrationunited statesparents

  • 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 7documenting the holocaustlife after the holocaustvolunteering at the museum

  • The Tray

    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.

    Tags:   susan warsingerechoes of memory, volume 6schoolsfriendslettersparentsmemory

  • The Errand

    The park, which housed a small museum and a caretaker’s cottage, could be entered by walking down a short concrete staircase. It was located across the street from our home and stood between us and the small shopping area of our town. It was a shortcut for me every time my mother asked me to go to the store for some item to prepare our dinner. The errands were of great value for me because they were my first forays into the world. I was doing something that an adult does by having the responsibility of taking care of my family. So it was always with great pride that I strolled through the park, with Phennigs in hand, to accomplish what was needed to nourish my parents, my brothers, and me.

    Tags:   susan warsingerechoes of memory, volume 6anti-jewish legislationantisemitismmemorygermany

  • The Interpreter

    It looked like the Fourth of July from our attic window in a small village in France. Only it was not fireworks that were exploding in midair; it was bombs being dropped from German airplanes on our beloved city of Paris. We watched in awe at the spectacle that was being displayed in front of us. We were young children, and we could not imagine what was to come.

    Tags:   susan warsingerechoes of memory, volume 5francegerman militaryparismemory

  • Belonging

    My biggest dream upon coming to the United States from France was to become an American citizen because I thought that if I was a citizen, all of my memories of the Holocaust would disappear.

    Tags:   susan warsingerechoes of memory, volume 5immigrationlife after the holocaustmemoryunited states

  • Separation

    After the night of broken glass, when the Nazis organized and carried out a pogrom of anti-Jewish violence, my parents—like most Jews in Germany—wanted to leave. There was no more waiting to find out if events such as Kristallnacht would cease, or if life would ever be normal again for all of us. Our first choice was to come to the United States, where we had cousins living in New York. They were most anxious to assist us by sending us tickets for the voyage and helping us settle in this new land. However, like most countries, the United States had a quota which had been established many years before and, therefore, we found it impossible to immigrate.

    Tags:   susan warsingerechoes of memory, volume 4hidingmemoryparentsfrance