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An Open Letter on the Hamas Attacks from a Community of Holocaust Survivors

Press Contacts

We are Holocaust survivors who volunteer at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, sharing our experiences with the public.  We are always gratified to see how much interest there is from young people from every part of the world. To hear their comments and questions gives us hope for the future. 

Today, as we see the murderous destruction in Israel, that hope is dimmed. All our lives we mourned for our loved ones lost to the genocidal actions of the Nazis and their collaborators, but we hoped the lessons of the past could shape a different future. Today we mourn for Israel that holds such special meaning for us. 

In our youth, we were proud Jews in our communities throughout  Europe. Eventually, that meant escape or certain death. We wanted to flee, but no one would take us. We longed for freedom and security, but there was no Jewish State. Today, the State of Israel is the guarantor of a Jewish future, but it is under horrific assault by Hamas terrorists. Today, men, women and children are again targeted as Jews. Today, we witness the worst killing of Jews since the Holocaust. 

This is not what we expected in this final chapter of our lives, as we contemplate our legacy, the future of Holocaust memory and education, and the future of our people.  We write this letter to humanity in sorrow but also in hope.  We know pain few can comprehend, having seen our families and communities obliterated. We are living proof that the unthinkable is always possible. 

We are also living proof of resilience. That we can rebuild as our fierce determination demonstrates.  We must be realistic about the dangers, but we must never despair. That would be a victory for those  seeking to destroy us.  That is why memory and education become more important with each passing year. And why we are proud of our contributions to fortify new generations to face the challenges that lie ahead. We promised our loved ones we would never forget and never give up. Especially at this darkest of moments, that remains our promise and our challenge to humanity. 

Steven F, deported to Auschwitz from Hungary

Joël N, protected by neighbors in France

Louise L, hidden in the Netherlands

Rose-Helene S, lived on false papers in France

Susan W, escaped from Nazi Germany

Arye E, hidden in Slovakia

Esther S, escaped on a Kindertransport to England

Ninetta F, sheltered in Greece

Nat S, expelled from home in Romania

Henry W, escaped from Vienna

Estelle L, forced into the Warsaw ghetto

George S, protected by the Swiss in Budapest 

Tamar H, hidden in Rome

Ruth C, deported to Auschwitz from Hungary

Halina P, lived on false papers in Jarosław

Andrew J, hidden in Warsaw

Frank C, escaped from Nazi Germany

Albert G, hidden in France

Dora K, protected in Croatia

Rae G, lived with partisans in forest near Głębokie 

Peter G, forced into the Budapest ghetto

Sheldon G, hidden in Zamość 

Alfred M, hidden in the Netherlands

Mark K, escaped the German invasion of Soviet Ukraine

Marcel D, hidden in Drohobycz

Ania D, born in a Soviet forced labor camp  

Peter S, persecuted in Prague

Gideon F, hidden in Slovakia

Ruth E, forced into a ghetto in Skałat

Manny M, imprisoned in Bergen-Belsen

Irene W, deported to Auschwitz from Hungary 

Lisa K, escaped from Italy

George P, forced into the Budapest ghetto