In a series of writing workshops at the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh, survivors assembled recently to remember the pivotal moments in which their lives were irreparably changed by the Nazis. These "flares of memory" invoke lost childhoods, preserving the voices of over forty Jews from throughout Europe who experienced a history that cannot be forgotten--by them nor us.
Including a timeline that chronicles the rise of the Nazis, their devastating campaigns for control of Europe, and the successive edicts that would annihilate millions, Flares of Memory consists of 92 brief vignettes arranged both chronologically and thematically. Survivors from Munich, Austria, Poland, Hungary, Lithuania, and the Netherlands recreate the disbelief and chaos that ensued as families were separated, political rights were abolished, and synagogues and Jewish businesses were destroyed--before and especially after Kristallnacht. "We had entered a twilight zone between memories of earning our keep at our occupations and the fear of becoming game during hunting season," writes one survivor. Others remember the daily humiliation, the quiet heroes among their friends, and the painful abandonment by neighbors as Jews were restricted to ghettos, forced to don yellow stars, and loaded like cattle in trains destined for the camps: "We were completely stripped of all human identity." Vivid memories of hunger, disease, and a daily existence dependent on cruel luck in Dachau, Auschwitz, and other concentration camps provide penetrating testimonies to the ruthlessness of the Nazi killing machine, yet they also bear witness to the resilience and fortitude of individual souls bombarded by evil.
This book also includes poignant recollections of American liberators who were often devastated by the horrors that they discovered after the fall of the Nazis. "A mix of emotions--disbelief, rage--overwhelmed us; tears blinded our eyes," recalls one soldier. Flares of Memory will inspire these emotions and will stay with you, long after you finish its pages.
"The result of a series of writing workshops at the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh, this work is a record of pivotal moments during World War II as experienced by over 40 Jews from throughout Europe, with additional recollections by American liberators. The 92 vignettes gathered here focus on specific events, situations, places, or people that stand out in the memories of these survivors, who were children or teens during the war; their stories are 'flares of
memory' from a time when their lives were devastated by the Nazis. This is an impressive mix of poetry, short-short stories, and longer accounts. By homing in on specific memories, the writers avoid the
rambling, vagueness, and repetitions typical of many collections of Holocaust memoirs and oral histories. The vast number of participants also yields enough material to give insight on events all over Europe at this time. Highly recommended for all libraries and essential for Holocaust collections."--Library Journal
"These survivors were the fortunate few who emerged from the darkness; their memories now as aging adults more than a half century after the event speaks for themselves, but also for the million or more children, who lost more than childhood, who lost their lives and will therefore forever remain silent. This collective effort to bear witness is both moving and worthy."--Michael Berenbaum, President, Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation
"It will be difficult for anyone to get too far into this book without shedding tears. Tears about a Jewish life that was, and is no more; tears over community and pending destruction of community; tears that come from the reader's flashing back to a family member he or she knew, who had an experience--or shared fate--similar to one that was recounted; perhaps even a tear by a reader who had no experience with the reality of the destruction of European Jewry,
but who, for the briefest moment, is consumed with anguish by one of the vignettes. I don't think that there will be many readers who will be able to put this book down."--Jerome Chanes, Associate
Executive Director, National Foundation for Jewish Culture
"Flares of Memory is an important work. This collection of survivor testimony is both a memory of the Holocaust past and an offering for the future. Listen to what the survivors say; their message is one for all humanity. Anita Brostoff and Sheila Chamovitz deserve our thanks for helping the survivors preserve their memories for all of us to learn from."--Alan L. Berger, Raddock Eminent Scholar Chair of Holocaust Studies, Florida Atlantic University
"Gives the reader a fresh perspective on the Holocaust since it is from the point of view of survivors who were in their teens or younger when the Nazis invaded their countries. It is a fascinating and at time riveting account from the point of view of forty of these survivors. I would judge this as a 'must read' for anyone who has interest in a different perspective on the Holocaust than ones that have been commonly printed in the past."--Joel Shatzky, SUNY,
"These firsthand accounts graphically depict peoples' sufferings--hunger, thirst, cold, exhaustion, helplessness, despair, and terror at the constant threat of death--as well as their grief over the loss of their families, homes and even their culture."--Booklist
"An outstanding contribution about and by Holocaust survivors (especially from the Pittsburgh community), with an excellent timeline, attractive vignettes and appropriate indexes."--John Pisarek, Religious Studies Lecturer, Penn State University