Survivor Stories


Portraits of Survival is many things: an award-winning exhibition and series of videos; a much-touted educational program that has touched the hearts and minds of many, and a resource center that includes books, journals, videos and teaching materials.


But, at the heart of it, Portraits of Survival is about the Holocaust survivors and refugees themselves, their stories, their journeys, their heartaches, and their triumphs.

"Honoring our survivors symbolizes our victory over forgetfulness."  

~Elie Wiesel (z"l), author, Holocaust survivor

Our Stories

Ichak Adizes

All the Jews were herded into a concentration camp by Bulgarian fascists.

Stella Better (z"l)

Things immediately got worse for all Jews. I saw crowds beating and mistreating Jews.

Eric Boehm (z"l)

My brother and I were no longer permitted to go swimming or to go for walks in public parks.


My father went from being a business owner to being a clerk.


I watched as the pharmacy across the street was vandalized and windows smashed.


My sister and I could not go on our daily walks in the park and play in the playground.


My mother and I watched as the Gestapo went from house to house looking for Jews.


In my hand was a suitcase, and in it was the last connection I had with my family.


While in the army I had to conceal my identity, in case I was captured by the enemy.


I had to play by myself during recess, as no children could play with a Jewish child.


I watched my friends being forced onto trucks and trains to be deported back to Poland.


On my ninth birthday, my oldest brother Jay and I were smuggled into France.


We were even afraid to talk in our own homes - the walls had ears.

Cesia Kingston

We saw starvation, rampant illness, horrifying living conditions, and death.

Josie Levy Martin

I found myself living alone in Catholic school among strangers.

Judith Meisel (z"l)

I was born in Josvainai, Lithuania on February 7, 1929. We were ordinary people deeply rooted in Judaism.

Nina Morecki (z"l)

My life began in 1920 in a beautiful, cultured city in eastern Poland named L’vov.

Edith Tanner Ostern

We were put into a shelter, since my mother had no job or language skills.


In the bunker we just existed, constantly hungry due to meager food supplies.

Bernhard Penner (z"l)

My teacher, who proudly wore a Nazi party emblem, singled me out for abuse.

Gela Baser Percal

Hiding in the forest, we slept on the damp ground. Cold and hunger were constant.

Fred W. Perutz

By insisting that I only spoke French, the officials decided to look for other victims.

Martha Prince (z"l)

My family was forced to close their shop due to anti-Jewish measures.

Clara Reitman (z"l)

We rented land from a farmer who reported us to the authorities at harvest time.

Leslie Reitman (z"l)

I began to work for the underground, bringing food to Jews in hiding.

Lisa Rozsa (z"l)

Mine was a very exciting and varied life with all its ups and downs on four continents.

Sam Rusinek (z"l)

He used potato sacks to make clothes for the prisoners, and was known as “the tailor.”

Laura Rusk (z"l)

We were always exhausted and hungry and heavily punished for the slightest infraction.

George Rusznak

We hid with a family in a one-room house with their nine children and 11 dogs.

Julie Rusznak

We hid our identity by pretending to be Catholic Hungarians from the countryside.

Lili Schiff (z"l)

I was in a truck covered by coals and logs, and dropped off at a convent.

Maria Segal

While we all worked, we were hungry; a piece of bread was a treat.

Kurt Singer (z”l)

We published an anti-Nazi underground newspaper in our bookstore.

Margaret Singer (z"l)

Children threw stones at us, calling us names. Jewish people began to disappear.

Alex Stein (z"l)

I was attacked by German kids. When I fought back, the police came.

Dora Tanner (z"l)

My home and those of other Jews were burned by Russians during a pogrom.

Mike Wolff

Families shipped their children out of Germany for safekeeping.

Klara Zimmer (z"l)

On arrival, Klara and Elsa stood before Josef Mengele for selection.