Honoring Holocaust Survivor Authors for National Book Month
Though USC Shoah Foundation specializes in maintaining thousands of recorded testimonies in its Visual History Archive, many of the Institute’s interviewees have also published memoirs and autobiographies.
For listeners of testimony, researchers and students alike, this trove of primary sources can be invaluable for building greater understandings and appreciations for narratives, using a multi-media approach.
In honor of National Book Month, celebrated in October, we've compiled a set of clips from five survivors' testimonies who have also written books– descriptions of both are below. Watch a clip from each testimony in the playlist above.
Alicia Appleman-Jurman, who passed in April of this year, reinforced her memories of life during the Holocaust both in testimony shared with the Institute and in Alicia: My Story (1988). In her memoir, she writes of escaping the Germans by luck and street sense, and of joining the underground group Bricha, which helped smuggle Jews out of Poland to the Palestine Mandate, and of her longstanding faith.
The first clip of her testimony features her message to children, and the second features a reading from Alicia.
Livia Bitton-Jackson published her memoir I Have Lived A Thousand Years in 1997, detailing the escalation of hate against Jewish people that she saw in her hometown in Czechoslovakia, her time at Auschwitz, Plaszow and Dachau, and her difficulty finding a childhood after she and her brother were liberated.
After she came to the United States, Bitton-Jackson gained an advanced education with which she’s dedicated her life to educating students about the past.
Olga Levy Drucker
Olga Levy Drucker was born in Germany in 1927, her life disrupted by actions taken against the Jewish people in the 1930s. In her book Kindertransport (1995), she writes of her experience as part of the Kindertransport, through which 10,000 Jewish children were sent to live with English families. In the clip above, she describes her mother’s decision to send her away for her safety.
Lucille Eichengreen published From Ashes to Life: My Memories of the Holocaust in 1994, a survivor of the Lodz Ghetto and Nazi concentration camps Auschwitz, Neuengamme and Bergen-Belsen. The memoir details her journey, from the age of eight, through these camps, and how she was able to make a life for herself in the United States after serving as one of the most effective witnesses in the postwar trial of her persecutors.
In this clip, she explains the power of her memory and how it was used for good.
Robert Fisch published Light from the Yellow Star: A Lesson of Love from the Holocaust in 1996, filled with illustrations of his own and introduced by one of the biblical quotes carved on the walls of the Memorial of the Hungarian Jewish Martyrs in Budapest, Hungary. Fisch had just graduated high school when he lost many of his freedoms in Hungary to the Nazis. After living through ghettos and camps, he came to the United States and became a professor of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota, eventually telling his story in paintings.
In this clip, Fisch tells an interviewer why he decided to draw his experiences instead of writing to express his emotions.
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