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

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  • Manufactured Reality

    Masha Gessen, a Russian American journalist and author, has been an outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin. Gessen has called what passes as news in Russia as “manufactured reality,” which refers to the daily stories covered by state-controlled media. Among Putin’s distortions are his argument that Ukraine is not a nation, that Ukrainians are not a people, and that the invasion and killing of civilians is not a war but a “special military operation.” The stated aim of Putin’s action was to “demilitarize and denazify” a country of 40 million people, which is led by a Jewish president who was elected democratically by 70 percent of the population. The ousted head of the leading Russian public opinion research organization states that current Russian propaganda is full of “lies and hatred on the fantastical scale.”

  • Food Desired and Food Denied

    I was seven years old in 1943 when my father disappeared. It was the fourth year of the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, and he was not at home. I kept asking my mother about my father, and her standard reply became, “Don’t worry—he is on a business trip and will be back as soon as he can.” At first, I believed her, but I wanted a fuller explanation. I missed my father terribly, but my mother never told me that he was assigned to a hard labor battalion or, later in 1944, that he was sent to Theresienstadt. She could not tell me the truth.

  • Britain’s Response

    Britain's response to the mass violence against Jews on Kristallnacht (the “Night of Broken Glass”) on November 9-10, 1938, was to offer a safe haven to children at risk living under the Nazi yoke, and thus the Kindertransport program was born. By the time World War II broke out on September 1, 1939, approximately 10,000 children had arrived in Britain via the Kindertransport program. In many cases, parents made that heart-wrenching decision to send their children away without knowing if they would ever be reunited. But by taking that step, the parents saved their children’s lives. 

  • The Town I Used to Call My Home

    The town I was born and raised in, Mukachevo, Czechoslovakia, was modern as well as quite old fashioned. There were horses and buggies bringing in wares from the neighboring farms to sell in the very large open market, which was filled with stalls and pushcarts. Cars and trucks also drove around the town. We also had telephones, although not in every house, but as I remember in all businesses. The town also had a theater.

  • Coming to the United States

    On April 16, 1957, my husband, Robert Kauder, passed away. He would have turned 37 on May 27, his next birthday. I lived in Prague had two children at that time—my daughter was ten and my son was five. Every day, after my husband passed away, I went for a walk and left my children with “Babinka” (grandma), who stayed with me. She was like a mother to me although she was not technically family. I did this for about a month. One day she told me that when I returned, the children would be in an orphanage. I hesitated for a moment and then left. Then I started to think about how she was not my mother, she was really a stranger to me and my children, and I could not believe that she would do this to me.

  • January, 1945

    In January of 1945, we came to Snina. We came from Kiev. The reason we came was because my friend Monica told me on the night of December 24 that the NKVD [Soviet secret police] would come and pick up my sister and the old lady, Ms. Diernfeld, whom we had met during our travels in Russia. She referred to my sister as a German spy because she had very blonde hair and I never referred to her as my sister. I never talked about my family or anything personal.