Synopses & Reviews
"When the sun came up, it was not like the sun -- I swear to you! It was not bright. It was always red to me; it was always black to me. It never said, never, never was life to me. It was destruction! The sun was never beautiful."
-- Edith P., survivor of Auschwitz and Salzwedel concentration camps
"I was born on the train and I died on the train. I actually didn't know why I was there on the train and what was happening to us. I wasn't even alive. I wasn't there."
-- Bessie K., age 19, deported 1943
"What I felt when the liberation came? That I am alone in the whole world....I had no desire to live. I had no place to go. I had nobody to talk to. I was just simply lost, without words."
-- Hanna F., sole survivor of her family of five
Fifty-five years after the end of World War II, the Holocaust continues to cast a dark shadow. Historians, theologians, philosophers, and others have tried to explain how and why the Holocaust occurred, but their theories often give short shrift to the personal accounts of the individuals involved. For the past twenty years, the Fortunoff Video Archive at Yale University has sought to preserve the human side of this inhuman era by videotaping testimonies from those who lived through the Nazi era, a project that has led to an acclaimed documentary film and this extraordinary book. As the noted Holocaust scholar Lawrence L. Langer writes in his foreword, "Without survivor testimony, the human dimension of the catastrophe would remain a subject of speculation. The voices of the victimized provide us with an intimate glimpse of daily existence [and] furnish a version of the atrocity that the killers chose not to preserve."
In Witness: Voices from the Holocaust, Joshua M. Greene and Shiva Kumar weave a single and compelling narrative from the first-person accounts of twenty-seven witnesses, including Jews, Gentiles, Americans, a member of the Hitler Youth, a Jesuit priest, resistance fighters, and child survivors. They tell stories of life under the Nazis, in the ghettos, concentration camps, and death camps, and they recount the mixed emotions that accompanied liberation and persisted in the years following the Holocaust. Their experiences reveal what it is like to live in a world where there were no clear moral options, and most choices were between bad and worse; even for those who survived, there were no happy endings. The vivid and detailed memories of these witnesses testify to the continuing impact of this human catastrophe, and their impassioned words lend immediacy to events that resonate to this day.
Yitzhak Rabin Memorial Professor of International Affairs, Ethics, and Human Behavior at George Washington University; former Director, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
This is a book of searing and penetrating reality. It recounts the Holocaust through the language of memory and personal experience. From it we learn, in ways otherwise impossible, what it meant to live as a Jew and die as a Jew in Nazi-occupied Europe. It not only tells us what happened; it draws us into that history and makes us live it with honesty, immediacy, and astonishing power. To these witnesses we owe an understanding of our own humanity that we'd otherwise never discover. This is the finest compendium of Holocaust memory I know.
author of The Chosen and My Name is Asher Lev
Witness brings us vividly, searingly, the interwoven voices of individuals who lived through the Holocaust and now recount events burned into memory. It is a work of extraordinary power.
Abraham H. Foxman
National Director, Anti-Defamation League
Whether it is through the eyes of an American soldier who was among the first to "stumble upon" a concentration camp in Germany, or of a Jesuit priest who himself experienced the terrors of the deportation platform, or of a woman who made it through the "forced death march" carrying her sister on her back, the stories in this book paint a stirring personal portrait of those who were there. A riveting account.
In this companion book to the PBS documentary scheduled to air in May, the realities of the Holocaust emerge through the remarkable accounts of 27 eyewitnesses. Photos.
In this companion book to the award-winning PBS documentary to air in May, the realities of the Holocaust emerge through the remarkable accounts of 27 eyewitnesses: Jews, non-Jews, American POWs, GIs who first entered the camps, a member of the Hitler youth, a Jesuit priest, and child survivors. Photos throughout.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 259-261) and index.
About the Author
Joshua M. Greene
(left) produces books and films of personal narrative. His award-winning films have aired on PBS, HBO, the Disney Channel, and stations in twenty countries. He lives in Old Westbury, New York.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Lawrence L. Langer
1 "A Way of Life": Europe, 1930s
2 "I Grew Up Overnight": The Outbreak of War
Father John S.
3 "A Whole Town Cried": Ghettos
Rabbi Baruch G.
4 "A Ladder Made of Rope": Escape, Hiding, and Resistance
5 "Very Little Windows": Deportation and Arrival
6 "What My Eyes Have Seen": The Camps
7 "Too Good a Fate": Death March
8 "Lost, Without Words": Liberation
Colonel Edmund M.
9 "It Started with Dreams": Aftermath
About the Yale Archive