Themes Woven in the Darkness

Our ten survivors did not know each other before the war but they certainly emerged from it with a lot in common. In this section we explore the themes that weave through the experiences of our survivors.

Five describe their lives before the war. Eight give us vivid accounts of the first days and months of the war, and the initial terror and acts of humiliation. Five share their experiences in the Nazi ghettos. Three describe being “hidden children,” including two sisters who hid together inside a piece of furniture in the Warsaw ghetto. Seven offer accounts of help that they received from Christians. Four recall their own acts of resistance. Two were slaves at Auschwitz at the same time. They share their memories of daily existence in that death camp. Three emphasize the importance of friendship during the war. Nine describe the day of liberation and four the disheartening return to their homes. Five explain how the war affected their faith in God. Eight discuss arriving New Orleans and the difficulties of starting their lives over. Nine spent their twilight years going to schools and sharing their experiences. They tell us why.

There is a final theme that binds our survivors: they acknowledged how lucky they were to have survived and spent the rest of their lives wondering why.