Constructing a collective memory of the Holocaust: a life by Ronald J. Berger

By Ronald J. Berger

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Although Michael remembers having many Jewish as well as non-Jewish friends, "our friendship with non-Jewish children was somewhat strained, alternating between being friendly and hostile. There were always fights between the Polish and Jewish kids during recess at school and after school. Yet we played with the very same kids. " Michael recalls with more acrimony the teachers who discriminated against him. "In my school, classes were held from Monday through Saturday. While the Jewish students were excused from attending classes on Shabbes, some of my teachers chose to teach on Saturdays all the new basic steps that a student needed in order to master a given subject.

Efforts were made to dislodge Jews from positions of influence and to close down opportunities for aspiring Jewish youths to be admitted to institutions of higher education. Jews continued to be the object of economic boycotts as well as anti-Semitic propaganda and violence. The Polish government even took a cue from its Nazi neighbor in Germany and began to advocate emigration of Jews as a solution to its so-called Jewish problem. 3 million Jews who lived in Poland at that time. Such was the state of affairs for Jews on the eve of World War II.

Twenty years ago I couldn't talk about it without crying. 83 As I listened to Michael and Shlomo's stories, I had the feeling that witness to the Holocaust was being made before my eyes and that the opportunity to record such testimonies would soon be lost. I became convinced that there is no substitute for survivors' own memories. "84 Moreover, I believe that participating in the life history study was a positive experience for both Michael and Shlomo. " He said that when he first settled in the United States after the war, he and other survivors were asked by others (mostly Jews, including relatives) about their wartime experiences.

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