Six million Jews were killed in the atrocities of the Holocaust, but about 3.5 million survived. Some were liberated from concentration camps at the end of the war, some were working with partisans in the resistance, and some were hidden by righteous gentiles or escaped the Nazis before the Final Solution was fully underway.
Many of the Jews who were liberated from camps died in the months after as a result of malnutrition, disease and exhaustion. Others were sent to displaced persons camps.
Those who survived mostly left Europe for other countries. Many immigrated to Israel, America, Canada and Australia, although some struggled to find countries that would let them in.
Today there is a concerted effort to record the memories and testimonials of survivors for posterity. The largest bank of testimonials is found at the USC Shoah Foundation, which was founded by Steven Spielberg in 1994 after he made the film Schindler’s List. Originally named the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation it became a part of the University of Southern California in 2006. Several legal cases have been brought before international courts to provide compensation and benefits for survivors who were stripped of their property and citizenship during the war. There are also many organizations that work to ensure that survivors have food, access to health care, and safe housing. Despite these efforts, it is estimated that half of the Holocaust survivors around the world live in poverty.
To learn more about Holocaust survivors and to hear their stories, check out the resources below.
Interviews and Testimonials
Telling Their Stories–Survivors and Liberator
Listen, watch, or read stories of those who survived the war, and those who liberated the concentration camps, interviewed by school children and historians.
Six survivors tell their stories.
Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive
Since 1981, Dr. Sidney Bolkosky, Professor of History at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, has interviewed Holocaust survivors. Listen to the archives he has collected.
USC Shoah Foundation Institute
Founded by Steven Spielberg, the Institute’s archive contains nearly 52,000 video testimonies of Holocaust survivors and other witnesses in 32 languages and from 56 countries.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Videos and transcripts of interviews with more than 500 survivors.
Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies
This archive, housed at Yale University, consists of over 4,400 testimonies of Holocaust survivors, witnesses and liberators.
Pronounced: SHO-uh (long o), Origin: Hebrew, the Holocaust.