“I never saw any of my family again, ” the speaker read aloud softly, looking up at last from the paper in her hand. Seated around a long wooden table in the book-lined library of a synagogue, a group of gray-haired Holocaust survivors listened, hardly moving. As the speaker finished reading her story, her hands shook visibly; her voice broke, she caught her breath, and sat down. Tears glistened in everyone's eyes. Nobody spoke.
This same scene happened again and again in the writing workshops which evoked most of the stories in this book. Among all the poignant emotions, that echoing sentence—“I never saw any of my family again”—seemed to stir the deepest ground. The moment of the last sight of their parents, sisters, and brothers is seared into the memory of each survivor. To an outsider, it was as if through all the stories which told about how they survived, the writers were really reliving, forever inconsolable, their loss of all those who did not.
Although some of the writers in this book did not attend the workshops, instead contributing stories previously written on their own, the book was essentially created by these Jewish Holocaust survivors working together to record their experiences. Unlike many Holocaust witness records, the book is not transcriptions of survivors speaking on audio or video tapes. And herein lies one of its strengths: all the stories exist here as the survivors wrote them, in their own words.
A structured course consisting of six writing workshops was conducted twice for two different groups of survivors, by Dr. Anita Brostoff. In addition, two single workshops were presented for the first group by Dr. Lois Rubin. Most of the Jewish men and women authors in this book took part in the workshops. Subsequently, Dr. Brostoff conducted a set of workshops for a group of U.S. Armed Forces liberators.
The extent to which the workshop participants had previously communicated about their Holocaust experiences varied. A few people had written but