A Holocaust Memorial Book
Second Edition

Translated by Florette Lynn

Old Survivors Dying

Old Survivors Dying

Stephen Herz
(Excerpt)

the old Holocaust survivors are dying
here in America & around the world
they are dying & dying.
the ones who were marked with the star.
the ones who were marked with a number for a name.
the ones who survived the round-ups
the terror of the ghettos

the death trains…


*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *


…the old survivors
in their youth then
in their eighties now-
you’ve read their memoirs
seen their Spielberg interviews
in the schools, the churches, the synagogues,
you’ve heard the poignant voices-
the voices fading, fading
like their blue tattoos.
as Never Forget! grows more important with each passing year,
who will be left to deny the deniers?
who will be left to speak for the burnt bodies,
who will be left
to rescue the dead from oblivion?1


*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *


The Holocaust survivors are dying. When they are gone, how will we stay connected to the Holocaust? How and what will we teach about this event without its mainstay–the witnesses?

Without Yizkor books, historians and students might easily succumb to quaint stereotypes and fictitious versions of Eastern European Jewry. These memorial collections provide a narrative for a way of life that is irretrievably lost.

Rosemary Horowitz, professor at Appalachian State University and author of Memorial Books of Eastern European Jewry: Essays on the History and Meanings of Yizkor Volumes explains:

“Soon history will speak with the impersonal voice of scholars, at worst with the poisonous voice of anti-Semites and falsifiers.
Approximately 7,000-8,000 writers and 1,000 editors participated in the writing and editing of these memorial books.
Memoirs and testimonies printed in the memorial books hold a very important place as source material for research into the history of the communities and the characteristic ways of Jewish life in Eastern Europe. These memoirs and testimonies are the records of holocaust survivors themselves or of Jews who emigrated from their hometowns, records of Jewish participation in the armed struggle against the Nazis and their collaborators. The richest and most detailed material deals with Jews who fought with partisans, especially memorial books from any community in Eastern Poland and Byelorussia.”

Hannah Arendt, a German-born American political theorist who escaped the Holocaust and became an American citizen, adds:

“Whatever happened or was done within that world of the Shoah, is ensured not to perish with the life of the doer or endurer; but to live on in the memory of future generations.”
1 Stephen Hertz, “Old Survivors Dying.” Marked: Poems of the Holocaust (NYQ Books, 2014)