Flares of Memory: Stories of Childhood during the Holocaust

By Anita Brostoff; Sheila Chamovitz | Go to book overview

ADDENDUM
SEEN WITH MY OWN EYES:
STORIES BY AMERICAN LIBERATORS

An American soldier, in a letter from Germany in April 1945, writes: “It was so horrible that had I not seen it, I wouldn't have believed it.” Another soldier, upon viewing all the death and destruction, says, “That day we knew why we were fighting this war.” And a nurse at Gusen, upon hearing of Holocaust deniers, concludes, “I knew I finally had to speak.” These words summarize the shocked reactions of all liberators who saw the forced marches, the concentration and forced labor camps at the end of the war.

The stories in this section visualize telling, somehow typical events. Heartrending scenes are drawn for us: a dead prisoner lying at the side of a road, clutching a photograph of his family; a U.S. tank column halted by rows of “twisted, disfigured, starved, naked, charred, dead male bodies” sprawled across a road; haggard and filthy women freed from a slave labor camp, sobbing and clinging to their liberators. Detailed accounts of liberators' arrivals at two concentration camps are contained in “A Letter from Dachau” and “I Saw Buchenwald.” At Dachau, we are shown not just dead bodies but barracks, crematory, and gallows, instruments of mass murder “more gruesome than any fiction writer could imagine.” The writer at Buchenwald takes us along with him on “an eerie Tour of Horror.” His tour, conducted by a camp internee, relates details of the prisoners' lives and shows us the physical plant: torture weapons, crematorium and other death houses, barracks, the laboratory where human beings were used for medical experiments, the sports arena where prisoners “played” games with SS troops who were armed with clubs.

These stories don't merely put the lie to those who would deny the facts or the importance of the Holocaust. They reaffirm and deepen the pathos of the stories written by survivors throughout this book. In fact, the liberators if anything describe the horrors in more awful, more graphic terms than our writers were able to bring themselves to use. The details that come out force readers to accept, even while we cannot imagine, the immensity of Nazi crimes in World War II.

-279-

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Flares of Memory: Stories of Childhood during the Holocaust
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vi
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword xiii
  • Timeline of the Holocaust xv
  • Map of Concentration Camps in Europe xxviii
  • Preface xxix
  • Introduction xxxiii
  • I - Snapshots: Jewish Life Before the Holocaust 1
  • Snapshots 2
  • War Arrives in Lithuania 3
  • A German Family 7
  • Betrayal 11
  • Parting 13
  • II - The Destruction of a Society 15
  • Herr B. 17
  • A Kristallnacht Journey 18
  • An Action Against the Jews 20
  • Leaving Germany, Leaving Home 24
  • Escape to England 26
  • The Best-Laid Plans 28
  • A Life-Defining Impression 30
  • The Harbinger of What? 32
  • The Beginning and the End 33
  • A Family Gone, One by One 34
  • The Abandonment of Mielec 36
  • A Shtetl's Life is Ended 37
  • What Ever Happened to the Jews of Skudvil? 40
  • III - Ruthlessness as a System 43
  • In the Dark 45
  • Theresienstadt 47
  • Dachau 50
  • Auschwitz, 1944 55
  • The Tenth Woman on Block Ten 56
  • The Means to Survive 58
  • The Gypsies 60
  • Nazi Murderers 61
  • How Many Made It? 63
  • The Law in Lithuania 64
  • Horrors of War 70
  • IV - The Lottery of Death and Life 81
  • German Roulette 83
  • My Sister Rieke 84
  • A Definition of Survival 86
  • An Unforgettable Passover Seder 89
  • Trying to Go Home 90
  • Bar Mitzvah Boy 93
  • The Skull with the Golden Braid 95
  • The Concentration Camp Lottery 96
  • The Girl with Wooden Shoes 101
  • The Wagon 102
  • The Child 103
  • V - Disguise as a Way of Hiding 105
  • In Constant Terror 107
  • Posing as a Christian 114
  • I Choose Life 116
  • Lost Families 119
  • Beyond Memory 121
  • A Hidden Child in Greece 123
  • VI - The Sustaining Power of Family Love 143
  • The Promise 144
  • A Mother's Courage 147
  • Miracles 151
  • A Dream of Milk 155
  • In Praise of Manual Labor 156
  • A Son in Deed 158
  • The Psychologist 162
  • VII - The Virtuous and the Vicious 163
  • A Narrow Escaper 165
  • The Kindness of Strangers 168
  • A Saintly Person 170
  • The Convent in Marseilles 173
  • Among the Righteous 176
  • The Killing Hunger 179
  • Captain Zimmer 180
  • The Volunteer Group 181
  • Mazel 182
  • The Farmer Kowarski 185
  • A Surprise Package 187
  • VIII - Disguise as a Way of Hiding 189
  • Lithuanian Friends 191
  • Unsung Heroes 199
  • Friend or Enemy? 202
  • Resist in Everything! 208
  • IX - Emergence into Light 225
  • The Golden Chain of Judaism 227
  • Flight to Freedom 236
  • The Last Hiding Place 243
  • One Day War, the Next Day Not 245
  • The Long Road After Liberation 247
  • On the Way to Health 249
  • An Ending and a Beginning 252
  • The Tiny Flame 254
  • X - The Aftermath: Remembering 257
  • The Aftermath 258
  • The Barber 260
  • Kaleidoscope: Salonika, Greece, 1945 261
  • The Sewing Basket 263
  • Children from the Camps Going to England 265
  • The Chief of the Gestapo 268
  • Herr Schluemper 270
  • The Miracle 272
  • To Bear Witness About the Holocaust 274
  • It Shall Not Be Forgotten nor Forgiven! 276
  • Addendum - Seen with My Own Eyes: Stories by American Liberators 279
  • The Photograph 281
  • Germany, 1945: View from a Tank 283
  • Gusen: A Nurse's Tale 286
  • A Letter from Dachau 288
  • I Saw Buchenwald 291
  • Re-Entry 296
  • Biographies of Survivor-Authors 298
  • Biographies of Survivor-Authors 298
  • Photographs of Liberator-Authors 336
  • Author Index 342
  • Story Index 343
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