During the Holocaust, Sonja Marsh, a Polish Jew, lived by “staying one step ahead of the Nazis” and carrying false papers. By 1980, however, she was a smiling grandmother in Cleveland, Ohio, seeking to document her experience for her children and grandchildren.
We know a bit about this period in Mrs. Marsh’s life because she, along with nearly 170 people like her, shared her story with the Holocaust Education and Commemoration Committee of the Jewish Community Federation in Cleveland, Ohio. The Committee compiled her story and the others they received into a book entitled Ayduth Lachayim, Witness to Life: Holocaust Survivors in the Cleveland Jewish Community. The remembrances contained in Ayduth Lachayim are both heartbreaking and affirming, an illustration of the remarkable resilience of the human spirit. The survivors who documented their experience watched their loved ones — sometimes their entire family, both immediate and extended — die terrible deaths, yet they survived and thrived.
The pages in this book include vital information such as birth dates and marital statuses, as well as lists of family members, both living and deceased. Often pictures are included, as is the case with Mrs. Marsh.
In all but one instance, the participants’ addresses were included in the book. While this information is readily found today with an Internet search, at the time it was given the participant may have had a reasonable expectation of privacy. For this reason, and because some participants are living and may still be at the address provided in 1980, addresses and phone numbers have been redacted.
We hope that when you look at this item you find beauty and joy in its pages and see it as the contributors hoped: as an ayduth lachayim, a witness to life.
Thank you to Shannon Kupfer, Digital/Tangible Media Cataloger at the State Library of Ohio, for this week’s post!