PEOPLE ASK ME, YOU KNOW … I GO AROUND AND TELL MY stories in synagogues and in high schools and in universities and when there is a question and answer period, they ask me, “How did you survive?”
And my answer is, “I don’t know myself.”
I don’t know how I survived.
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Probably I survived because I must be here to tell the story. There must be somebody here to tell the story so people cannot deny it later. And I am a real survivor. I am an eyewitness of the atrocities. That’s maybe why I survived. But I didn’t work towards it to know if I will go to the right or the left. This will be better or this will be better. Nobody knew what to do or how to do it. It
just so happened.
And if the war would go on two more days, I wouldn’t be sitting here and talking about the story. I wouldn’t be here.
~ Paula Dash, 1992
What I have learned is that when it came to their histories, there were varying degrees to which Holocaust survivors were and are able to share their stories. Some were silent, sullen and totally closed about what had happened to them. Others, like my survivor grandparents, were open, expressive and almost free-flowing about it. It was who they were, why they were here. When I was older and learned that “the story” was a no-no as far as discussion in some survivor families, I was fascinated: You mean that this is something some people don’t talk about? Wow. Clearly that was not the case with my people. For my grandmother, her story was, I believe, the key to her freedom and salvation in life. It was precisely because of telling the story that she was able to process and live with what she had experienced.