Holocaust / Hiding

Much of what is known about the Holocaust comes from the survivors. Some were adults at the time they were sent to labor camps or forced into hiding; some were merely children. Nearly six million Jews died at the hands of the Nazis. Despite the horror and suffering, however, some people managed to escape -- just barely, in some instances -- with their lives. The purpose of this paper is to look at the extraordinary human spirit and the circumstances that allowed some people to survive the Holocaust and tell their stories, "lest we forget."

For the purpose of this paper, five YouTube videos were viewed. In each video, there was an interview of a Holocaust survivor. Since the videos were made in the 1990s, all interviewees were young at the time of the Holocaust. The oldest person was Selien Abram, who was pregnant with her second child at the time she was arrested by the Nazis. Each of the videos was approximately thirty minutes long.

Feature films about the Holocaust, including the Boy in the Striped Pajamas, the Diary of Anne Frank and, perhaps most famously, Schindler's List, are dramatic and heart wrenching. The filmmakers must use extreme situations to create suspenseful and emotional tales that will totally engage the audiences. The films have a purpose as entertainment and they also bring to life the people and the culture of the Holocaust-era. Without such films, people who were not alive during the Holocaust might not have a full understanding of the scope of the suffering and devastation. By contrast, the five videos show a different side of the Holocaust. Each person, four women and a man, quietly tells the story of their own experience. The stories are dramatic because of their content, but not in the telling. In every case, the interviewee is able to smile and even chuckle recalling a memory about a family member or friend. There is no talk of terror or deprivation, only of the love individuals and their families and friends had for one another. This love seems to have given each one a quiet strength and the resolve to make it through the war.

For example, Frieda Aaron related an anecdote about her kind and gentle maternal grandfather, who was a favorite among the children. As was the custom for Jewish men, he had a long beard that he allowed the children to style and braid. Fela Abramowicz talked of the good values taught to her by her parents, values that she hoped she has passed on to her children. Selien Abram laughed aloud when she confessed she pulled the braids of an anti-Semitic classmate who taunted her when they were young girls in school.

Cornelia Aaron Swaab was only four when the war broke out and had no memory of "the fun things" that children do. Her father was jailed for a short period and, upon his release, the family had to go into hiding. Cornelia spoke of having to move, and of the worry she witnessed in her parents.

The most emotional of the interviews was the one with Sol Adler, but not for the reasons one might expect. One of four children, Mr. Adler spoke matter-of-factly about his parents and one sister who perished in the war. Mr. Adler was very moved when he spoke about religious gatherings. He explained that the atmosphere of spirituality in the room was indescribable, and obviously very joyful and meaningful for the participants.

One might be hesitant to watch videos of…