Every victim of the Holocaust carried their own history — the spirit of a family, the legacy of a community and a culture — as well as a future brutally cut short.
These lost worlds, histories and communities live on in the memoirs of Holocaust survivors.
The memoirs of Holocaust survivors are more than simple autobiographies. These books do not simply tell one individual’s story — they also recount the stories of those who did not survive, paint the portraits of millions of murdered Jews, each of whom had a name and an identity. The loss of these people marks the end of an entire civilization, which exists today only in the collective memory of those of us who read these stories.
For most survivors, their story is all that they had left after the war. The moral imperative to remember drives every memoir; these books are memorials to a lost world whose inhabitants did not survive the Holocaust but who the readers can know and remember and share through the stories and memories of the survivors.
Below are vivid memorials to these lost worlds, the shtetls and urban Jewish communities in Eastern Europe decimated by the Nazis’ genocidal mission that now only exist in the testimony and memoirs of Holocaust survivors.