A collection of 14 Holocaust memoirs, Holocaust Survivors Memoirs — World War II. The collection is a project from Amsterdam Publishers. Jewish Children in the Holocaust is a smaller collection of four books brought by Amsterdam Publishers.
Each book presents a different view. There are memories from hidden children. Others are survivors of concentration camps intended to abuse, use and kill. Some were active partisan fighters. A few managed to live in the shadows. All were and are heroes. Titles include Defiant German — Defiant Jew, In a Land of Forest and Darkness, WOLF, See You Tonight; Promise to be a Good Boy.
Life before Hitler was a rich, warm experience. The Jewish families were part of the community, yet were their own culture. In some cases, the secular schools made allowances for Jewish practices. Quite democratic on the surface.
Evils of Antisemitism and Prejudice
Antisemitism was not an invention of Hitler’s. Each memoir speaks about the general antisemitic attitude all around the world. The candor is crystal clear.
Individuals helped save people where they could. Others were waiting like vultures to ‘salvage’ the property taken from the Jewish. Governments and society as a whole turned away and saw nothing. Rescuing people from extermination was not a primary goal in the fight against Nazi powers. The Allied countries fought against Hitler and the Axis powers with other goals.
The memories are painfully clear for very intelligent people. Over the decades, most of the authors have given deep thought to the possible alternatives that would have avoided genocide. The age groups cover a widespread. Most survivors writing today were young people and children during the war. Family culture and formative years with plenty contributed to developing character and intellect. Jewish practices bonded children and parents permanently. Surviving to be a reasonable and wholesome character was an accomplishment. Their background stood by them during the terror. The family rituals of holidays and Sabbath were invaluable for survivor recovery.
After World War II
The development of Israel as a country and homeland after the war was not an easy task. The world generally didn’t want the Jewish people to have a homeland.
The next generation was affected by their parent’s and extended family’s experiences. Growing up with high stress in the refugee camps directly after the war was bound to make an impression. The decades after the war were much the same. Some families easily talked about what happened to them. Others had too much pain. Or thought to save their children from the terrible reports that may have seemed like ‘shock and awe’ talk. Serving up a history of misery would not fit the dream that many had for their families.
I find the descriptions of Poland, Ukraine, and other Eastern European areas before the war pleasant and impressive. The lands and climate were fertile and fruitful. Some authors who have traveled in the last decade do not report things being fruitful. A few weeks ago, I reviewed WOLF, one of the books in the collection of 14
Publisher with a Specific Mission
Amsterdam Publishers is headquartered in Oegstgeest, The Netherlands. Dutch art historian, Liesbeth Heenk is the head of Amsterdam Publishers. The publishing company was established in 2012. The mission is to publish and preserve the Holocaust memoirs of survivors and their families. Historical fiction based on the Holocaust is part of the published list. The catalog includes memoirs of people who have suffered genocide in other cultures.
The Covid-19 pandemic struck older people. Holocaust survivors from World War II fit in the category of elderly. The pandemic took the lives of many survivors. Meanwhile, prejudice and antisemitism are growing actions across the planet. Tattling is one way to confront abuse and terror. Publishing these memoirs – more than stories is a strong and good mission.
Recommending Despite Violent Content
I am reading through the collection of fourteen books. They are so strong that I must stop to read other genres from time to time. I do not want to become conditioned to the strength of these memories. It seems so wrong to chance missing some of the strong spirit that they reveal. The memories of these people involve extreme violence in an effort to survive. Extreme violence in an effort to destroy them. The books are not ‘flinch-free’ in the light of violence. They are well written without vulgarity and smut.