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

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  • If Only I Had Pictures

    I lost my family in the Holocaust. I also lost the images of my past. Everything was destroyed: my home, my material possessions, including nearly every picture. Most importantly, none of my relatives survived. I was one of two children who survived the Holocaust from my town of Dokszyce in eastern Poland, now Belarus. The town’s Jewish population was about 3,000 before the Holocaust. Only a dozen or so survived.

  • Time Moving in Reverse

    The Holocaust should be receding into history, the purview of scholars, books, museums, and memorials. After all, the Nazi regime that gave rise to the Holocaust gained power 87 years ago and was defeated 75 years ago. But for me, in these last few weeks, time seems to have been moving in reverse. The resurgence of antisemitism and xenophobia in the United States and Europe may have played a part, but the sudden, unexpected discovery of new information about the fate of my sisters has hurled me back to a time when I was less than a year old, a time when I was too young to comprehend the breakup forced on our family by the Nazi occupation. It is as if the immunity conferred by the slow piecemeal exposure to the Holocaust as a youngster growing up in its immediate aftermath had worn off, and I now fully felt the pain of the loss of my sisters and the anger at the perpetrators and collaborators responsible for the murder of two bright and beautiful young girls, only five and seven, in a man-made hell called Auschwitz.  

  • Bicycle Memories

    Today I took the metro to the Museum. As I walked from the parking lot to the station, I passed by the bicycle storage area where shiny, expensive bicycles were chained to the rack. First I was amazed at how many people trust that their bicycle will be there when they return from work. My first crime experience in the United States taught me otherwise. 

  • Mini Sabotage

    February 1945 found me, Agi Laszlo (Geva), age 14, at a huge airplane spare parts factory in Calw, Germany, which was not far from Stuttgart. Together with my mother, Rosalia, and my sister, Shosha, I was transported from Auschwitz three months earlier in a group of 200 women, 180 of whom were Hungarian and 20 were Polish. As far as I knew, the war was still raging as I had not heard nor seen any signs of change.

  • The Invitation Back to Germany and the Apology to Make It Right

    A barn was sold some 30 years after the war, not far from Calw, near Stuttgart, Germany. The buyer wanted it empty. When the last bunch of straw was moved from the back of the barn, suddenly an engraving became visible: a name, address, and a telephone number. The buyer needed an explanation. He wanted to know what it meant. The local school teacher was asked to come over and have a look. He was dumbfounded. All these years he had been sure that there had been no prisoners in his town during the war. There were no Jews, no forced laborers. He called the history professor of the nearby university. Together with the town mayor, they decided to phone the number engraved on the far wall of the barn and find out more about the barn’s Holocaust era-history. A lady from Budapest answered, invited them to visit, and agreed to be interviewed. The interview took three days.

  • Vienna Revisited

    Several years ago I received an invitation to visit Vienna, Austria, a good will gesture organized by the Austrian Government. The purpose was to reach out to Holocaust survivors who had left their homes in Vienna during the second World War. We were a group of about 60, of which half were born in Vienna. I was the only one who had left Vienna on the Kindertransport. Josie, my wife, came along as my guest. We all stayed at the Hotel Stefanie in the second district, Leopoldstatte, once the center of Jewish life in Vienna. The hotel was comfortable, the food excellent, but smiles and cheerful conversations were not on the menu. However, the housekeeping staff greeted us in a very friendly manner; they were all Turkish immigrants. 

  • British Army

    The volunteer office provided me a ticket to Amsterdam, and from there I made my way by train and ferry back to England. As I approached the immigration booth, I wondered how it would go. I had been technically AWOL (absent without leave) from the British Army for 18 months. The agent took my passport, shuffled some papers, and said, “Well, well, lookie here. Did you know you are wanted by the army?” I answered, “Yes, that’s why I am here.” “Well good, mind you report to your local police station when you get home.” With that, he stamped my passport, returning it to me and cheerfully said, “Welcome home, son.” That sounded good to my ears. I thought, one hurdle gone, but several still lay ahead. 

  • The Night Watchman

    As Chief Radio Officer on the SS Zion, I had the 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. watch, which provided me with the whole evening free to enjoy dinner with guests in the dining room plus partake in activities of a social nature. However, my watch was also in the wee hours of the morning from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. Generally, activities in the radio room were slack during those hours, and I had plenty of free time to chat with the night watchman who used to stop by. He held one of those clocks that registered at different stations aboard the ship and time stamped at each location. However, it still provided ample time for me to hear his story.