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Thu Mar 6, 2014, 04:13 AM

Who Counts as a Holocaust Survivor?

As a writer for a Yiddish newspaper and as a Yiddish translator, I spend a lot of time working with Holocaust survivors and their writings. I’ve spent upwards of 1000 hours conducting oral history interviews with Holocaust survivors and translating Holocaust testimony. Recording, preserving and sharing these stories is a large part of my day-to-day life. So although I’d hardly consider myself an expert on the topic, the Holocaust plays a much greater role in my life than it does for the average 20-something American Jew.

That’s why I was taken aback last week when I realized that I couldn’t answer a colleague’s seemingly simple question: “Who ‘counts’ as a Holocaust survivor?” The question arose after the inimitable Alice Herz-Sommer died at 110 years old on February 23. Herz-Sommer, a gifted pianist who knew Kafka in her youth, survived the Theresiendstadt concentration camp in her early 40s along with her son Raphael. Herz-Sommer’s life, musical career and indomitable spirit are recalled in the Oscar-winning film “The Lady in Number 6.”

Although Herz-Sommer was widely described as the world’s oldest Holocaust survivor at the time of her death, I believe there is an older survivor living in New York City. Dr. Alexander Imich, with whom I conducted an oral history interview in July, was born in Czestochowa, Poland on February 4, 1903. That makes him 111.

A scholar of the paranormal who is fairly estranged from his Jewish roots, Imich could still recall a few lines of a prayer in Ashkenazi Hebrew, which he had learned in a traditional Cheder. “Boruch Ato Adoneai Aloheinu Meylech Haoylum Ha…” he chanted. About forgetting the next word in the prayer, he later quipped, “Well, it was more than a century ago.”

Read more: http://blogs.forward.com/forward-thinking/193810/who-counts-as-a-holocaust-survivor#ixzz2vAVKUpei


This was very interesting!!!

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Reply Who Counts as a Holocaust Survivor? (Original post)
Behind the Aegis Mar 2014 OP
ZombieHorde Mar 2014 #1
meti57b Mar 2014 #2

Response to Behind the Aegis (Original post)

Thu Mar 6, 2014, 04:24 AM

1. Labels are very different than the things being labeled.

Labels are they're own things. They're symbols, and therefore abstractions. They're very useful for communication, but I am not so sure we need them to be so exact. I am not convinced we need a strict definition for the term "Holocaust survivor."

I am very sleepy and probably shouldn't be commenting on such sensitive issues right now. Have a good night everyone!

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Response to Behind the Aegis (Original post)

Thu Mar 6, 2014, 07:20 PM

2. I would think anyone who was directly affected by the nazis.... is a Holocaust Survivor......

Our synagogue is greatly honored to have five Holocaust Survivors as members. I know for certain that three of them were in work camps.

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