Personal histories

July 11, 2008 at 1:29 pm Leave a comment

Still on the Encylopedia project, of course. 310 articles down, 272 to go—it would go quicker if I didn’t take so many breaks. In all fairness, despite the eternal click-and-scroll, it’s been a fairly interesting project just for the appreciation I’ve gained for USHMM’s commitment to getting everything down on paper (figuratively speaking).

My favorite gem so far: a small excerpt from the taped interview of a Holocaust survivor, describing her liberation. Here’s a bit, but you’ll have to follow the link to hear the end, the real kicker:

And then he asked an incredible question. He said, “May I see the other ladies?” You know, what…what we have been addressed for six years and then to hear this man. He looked to me like a young god. I have to tell you I weighed 68 pounds. My hair was white. And you can imagine, I hadn’t had a bath in years. And this creature asked for “the other ladies.” And I told him that most of the girls were inside, you know. They were too ill to walk, and he said, “Won’t you come with me?” And I said, “Sure.” But I didn’t know what he meant. He held the door open for me and let me precede him and in that gesture restored me to humanity.

The testimony from the American soldier himself is here. A bit:

The girl who was my guide made sort of a sweeping gesture over this scene of devastation, and said the following words: “Noble be man, merciful and good.” And I could hardly believe that she was able to summon a poem by the German poet Goethe, which was called–is called–“The Divine,” at such a moment. And there was nothing that she could have said that would have underscored the grim irony of the situation better than, than what she did. And it was a totally shattering experience for me.

Honestly, if you’ve got a little time to spare, dig around the USHMM website a bit and find more survivor interviews–though they run the gamut from horrifying to uplifting, they’re all pretty amazing. Here’s a good place to start.


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Fictional twittering Interesting web navigation at a Smithsonian site

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