Sometimes at night I lay and I can't believe what my eyes have seen. I really cannot believe it. --Helen K., Auschwitz survivor
So much has been written about the Holocaust, from academic treatises to popular histories, but it's rare to find a book that captures the texture of everyday living in Nazi Germany. Witness is such a gem. Since 1979, Yale University has videotaped testimonies from Holocaust survivors and witnesses. Twenty-seven of these first-person accounts have been woven into Witness, creating a rough narrative of life before, during, and after the Nazi era. The witnesses are a diverse group: Colonel Edmund M.'s unit liberated Mauthausen concentration camp, Robert S. was in the Hitler Youth, Werner R. survived a death march that killed thousands, Celia K. joined the partisans and sabotaged German railways. The editors wisely remain on the fringe; capsule biographies of each witness and brief introductory pieces allow the testimony to take center stage. Herbert J. was an American POW liberated from Mauthausen concentration camp. He describes how local children were encouraged to assault the prisoners as they were marched to the quarry for work. One girl:
...had a barrel stave. She come and she hit me with it, and I was stubborn and I wouldn't fall down right off easy. And she hit me a couple of times, and finally I went down ... and she bent over me, and she's calling me names and whatnot, and she says quietly, "Here! Here!" And so I reach up defensively and she's poking something at me. It was soft, and I put it inside my shirt. Brotenspeck--broiled pork fat between German bread. Every day after that she was there and she'd do the same thing--only it didn't take as many whacks with that barrel stave to get me to fall down. ... And she never got caught. It would have cost her her life.
Abraham P., a Romanian Jew who survived Auschwitz and Buchenwald, remembered telling his little brother to stay with their parents when they arrived at Auschwitz. "Little did I know that--that I sent him to the--to the crematorium. I am--I feel like--I killed him [crying]." When Helen K.'s brother died in her arms en route to Majdanek, she made up her mind "that I'm going to defy Hitler. I'm not going to give in. Because he wants me to die, I'm going to live." Many of these accounts are painful to read, but, as 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." Witness illuminates this dimension, providing a powerful and personal history of the Holocaust. --Sunny Delaney
This is the best book I have ever read on the witnesses of the Holocaust.
It ony made me think that for every story I heard there are literally millions of other stories unaccounted for that we will never know.
Witness does a great job of telling about the memories that the survivor's in the Holocaust have had for many years.
This collection of accounts by some of the victims is a "must include" in reading about the systematic murder of millions of Jews and others in Europe by Hitler's Nazis and... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Patricia L. Mattison
This book is an oral history of the Jews who were sent to Hitler's concentration camps. The majority of the people are Polish Jews describing their horrendous experiences from... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Jerry Wilt
I had the privilege of studying with Dr.Viktor Frankl and through him met many other survivors. The stories in this outstanding work brought back the conversations that changed my... Read morePublished on March 5, 2012 by S.J.Tagliareni
This is the best book I have ever read on the witnesses of the Holocaust. It is not just a conglomeration of mini-biographies. Read morePublished on January 27, 2011 by Marcia J. Wise
As far as holocaust books go Witnesses: Voices from the Holocaust is one of the best books I have read. Read morePublished on January 22, 2011 by Erin
This book is one that drew me in! I really enjoyed this book, from beginning to end. It covers many young people, their struggles from the beginning from the war to their... Read morePublished on June 17, 2010 by N. Spruill
This is one of 10 volumes I have recently read. The content is heart rending. The organization of the material was a bit of a challenge for me to follow but well worth the... Read morePublished on April 14, 2010 by E. Willis
This book is a little more detailed than other books on the same topic. It contains little snippets of conversation on the Holocaust story. Read morePublished on March 19, 2010 by Jackie Yaacobi