Survivor Stories

Lili Gordon, Child Holocaust Survivor (

“My mother never told me about Cinderella. I didn’t know about Mickey Mouse. I didn’t hear fairy tales at night. My mother told it as she remembered it …she did not want to be quiet. She wanted people to know what they went through.”

Excerpted from Night by Elie Wiesel

“I pinched my face. Was I still alive? Was I awake? How could it be possible for them to burn people, children, and for the world to keep silent? No, none of this could be true. It was a nightmare.”

Leon Gersten, Child Holocaust Survivor

Leon Gersten spent Thanksgiving with Czeslaw Polziec a few years ago. Polziec’s family secretly sheltered Gersten in rural Poland for two years during World War II, after the Nazis rounded up 1,600 people in Leon’s hometown of Frystak, Poland – mostly children and the elderly – marched them outside town, slaughtered them and tossed their bodies like garbage into a mass grave.

Rosian Zerner, Child Holocaust Survivor (from

“My parents decided I would be the first to be rescued and they painstakingly, slowly dug a hole under the barbed wire fence that surrounded the ghetto. One day, the hole was ready and they pushed me through it, again, painstakingly, and slowly, timing the guards and the searchlights. I was 6 years old.”

Suzanne Ripton, Child Holocaust Survivor

“I used to sit down and cry sometimes, but it didn't do any good, so I stopped that. Nobody heard.”

Excerpted from Night by Elie Wiesel

“Men to the left! Women to the right!” Eight short, simple words. Yet that was the moment when I parted from my mother.”