THE MUSEUM OF FAMILY HISTORY presents
WALK IN MY SHOES
Collected Memories of the Holocaust
As someone who has conducted a number of such interviews, I must say that I have been affected deeply by the people I have interviewed and the stories they had to tell. There is a certain "human element" that often escapes many of us when we choose to read a book about the Holocaust or look at a photo of what life was like in the many concentration camps. To be able to interact and ask questions of those who actually survived the Holocaust is an important and unique learning experience, one that could not be matched, e.g., by taking a college course on Holocaust studies. To get to know these people and listen attentively to their stories is the best way to learn and to feel for those who survived such a dark period in human history, and for me the experience has been truly worthwhile. I am honored that they believed me worthy, and were willing to share their stories with me, and through me with all of you.
As I've previously stated, I have been deeply affected by the stories I have heard, especially those told about life in the many concentration camps; about the crimes of man against his fellow man, the inhumanity that existed. I often can't help but visualize the events described to me during my conversations with some survivors-- the horror of prisoners having to run through a "gauntlet" of nail-laden clubs at Majdanek; the SS guards, the Kapos and others at Auschwitz, walking side by side every morning, sweeping through the camp, forcing those who stood in their path toward the hospital where the death trucks awaited them, ready to take them to the gas chambers. It was sometimes only by cleverness that many survived the camps, though often it was just a matter of chance or luck or being on one line or another or standing on the wrong side of the road.
It is rather a daunting task for someone like myself who was born into a free and open society to try to be eloquent about such a dark subject as the Holocaust, to write an introduction to an exhibition such as this. I can at least tell you that the purpose of this exhibition, for me at least, is to give voice to those who wish to speak to you, and to make available to you their recollections as they are made available to me. This is done all with the fervent hope that the many who will read these stories thoughtfully, will over time, encourage their children and grandchildren (when suitable) to know these survivors through their words, to "walk in their shoes," so to speak. They will see of course the tremendous weakness of character of those who oppressed the powerless; how so many could follow such a hateful ideology and impose such cruelties onto a people. They will, however, also see the beauty and strength of character of the Jewish people; not just how some managed to survive by their own cunning and guile, but also how so many parents who had so much love for their children, were willing to sacrifice themselves so that their children might live.
The stories as told by the Holocaust
survivors displayed here are organized by country, i.e. the country of
their birth. Some are single pages of testimony, while are comprised of
multiple pages organized in chronological order. Some
stories are presented here in part, with more to come in the near future. Whichever the
case, what is presented here currently should be of great interest to many,
and of course will probably be very powerful and emotionally evocative.
That we may in some vicarious way "walk in their shoes" and share in the
telling of their experiences that are so very
personal to them, is an honor and a privilege.
From Shiku Smilovic, who had been
imprisoned in Auschwitz and Buchenwald with his father until one fateful
Choose to read testimonies of
survivors from any of the following countries:
--The "exhibition" link provided on most pages at the top right under the exhibition banner will take you back to the exhibition introduction and the main links to the individual country pages, i.e. this page. Within an individual's story, the "back" and "front" links will take you through an individual's story, and once that story is complete, will bring you to the next story for that particular country, until all the stories for that particular country have been told.
--The links provided below will take you to the Museum's main Holocaust page and also its Holocaust links page.
--As stated previously, the exhibition is in a constant state of evolution and flux, so please revisit it monthly to see what more has been added.
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