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Last revised
20 Dec. 2004



Testimonies of Survivors and Eyewitnesses
to Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity

These testimonies from different events are presented together to emphasize these crimes as individual experiences rather than as historical events. Most of testimonies are links to other sites on the Internet. Many include a photograph and some have artwork by the survivor. The longer accounts are marked with an ("*").

Sion Abajian b. 1908 "We used to eat grass."

Vahe Antreasyan 1913 "[S]pared thanks to a Turkish family friend who took them into her own home and pretended that the boys were her sons"

Beatha "I will never forget being stopped at a roadblock."

Dominga Sic (Denise Becker) * b. 1971 "She told me to take the baby and run and never look back."

Bedros Bahadourian b. 1903 "Two, three, four, five bodies on top of each other."

Haig Baronian b. 1908 "First my uncle, now my grandmother were left unmourned and unburied by the wayside. "

Edward Bedikian b. 1902 "Don’t let them take me,” she said. “Don’t let them take me."

Sigmund (Siggy) Boraks b. 1925 "I remember my dad told me, Don't worry, we will see each other after the war. And he told me to come to the same town. And this was the last time I saw him."

Isak Borenstein * b. 1918 "They put them on trucks, and we never saw them again."

Marcel Braitsteine * "You must forget your old name, and
never reveal it to anyone."

Jeannine Burk * b. 1939 "She would hide me in the outhouse."

John G. Burnett, (b. 1810) (eyewitness) "Murder is murder, and somebody must answer. Somebody must explain the streams of blood that flowed . . . Somebody must explain the 4000 silent graves."

Konrad Elkana Charmatzb * b. 1910 "I try to take a bit of bread in my mouth, but I cannot swallow it because my mouth and tongue were too dry and the food would not go down."

Samuel Cloud (b. 1829) "We are led out of the stockade. The guards all have guns and are watching us closely."

Dancilla "I could hear the militia going about their 'work' while my friends and neighbours groaned and breathed their last."

Aaron Elster b. 1932 "We are surrounded by tall brick walls and sharp wire that'll cut you if you touch it. We are trapped."

Felicia Fuksman b. 1924 "Searching for my family took all my energy."

Eva Galler b. 1924 "I jumped from the train and my sister and brother jumped from the train and they were killed right away." Also here

Henry Galler b. 1921"And they said, Out! And my mother said, Where are you taking them?"

Damas Mutezintare Gisimba "When somebody came to the orphanage, not only did I not wish to turn them away, but at a certain point, it became almost a miracle that somebody could get by all of those barricades. So the real difficulty was water and food"  Also here

Guatemalan Survivor "[T]hey grabbed me by the shirt, right here, at my chest. "Look up," they said."

Hermann Graebe  (eyewitness) "The next batch was approaching already. They went down into the pit, lined themselves up against the previous victims and were shot." Also Here

Kristine Hagopian b. 1906 "They raped him. Raped! Just like that. Right in front of us. And that official made us watch"

Leng Houth, b. 1951 "These boys were holding ropes and knives in their hands and they took the four Chinese families . . . the next day, I saw the same boys wearing the Chinese families' clothes."

Valentina Iribagiza b. 1981 "When they found someone breathing, they pulled them out and finished them off."

Lillian Judd b. 1924 "[i]n 1986, I had a dream just like I was back [in Auschwitz-Birkenau], and my father was being killed. I was screaming."

Apollon Kabahizi b. 1972 "In history and civic education courses, we were taught that Tutsis were bad people." Listen to Apollon on the BBC

Sam Kadorian b. 1907 "I was covered with blood from the other bodies on top of me."

Charles Kotkowsky* "They packed us into cattle wagons so that nobody had space to sit down." 

Marcus Leckere * b. 1923, "All were buried, even those who were still alive."

Ann Levy b. 1935 "[T]he dogs were smelling something, but they just never found us."

Simone Weil Lipman b. 1920 "At that time, we did not know where these people were going. What happened was suddenly, the order came for roundups of the people in the camps. . . And we scrambled -- we, meaning the various social workers of the various agencies -- to put together some dossiers, some papers, for these people to be exempt from deportation."

Edmund M.  (eyewitness) "It was just so much so that I first just wanted to grab my breath and maybe walk out immediately without going any further."

Thida B. Mam "Very few families were truly relocated to clear new land. Most ofthe trucks and ox carts containing these people were driven to mass graves in jungle clearings and deep wells."


Arpiar Missakian b. 1894 "They had mixed sand with the flour--so we ate this hard bread, and sand crunched under our teeth."

"My" b. 1940 "I told my sons to run along and save themselves.'

Filip Müller b. 1922 "At the entrance was a signboard, and written on it in several languages the direction: To the baths and disinfecting rooms."

Dora Niederman b. 1927 "I was only twelve years old, not quite twelve years old. And I was there with my aunt, my daddy's sister and I wanted to go with them. And a German soldier came over there and yanked me: You have to go to work. No, I don't. She said, No, you go to work. Maybe you can help us. The aunt and the children. You go to work. So I went to the other side. I didn't know anything about gassing or killed or anything. We didn't know nothing. And they took them to one side, we to other."

Domina Nyirandayambaje (b @ 1950) "I went to take an HIV test to make sure that I wasn't infected and I realized things weren't good on that point. The men who raped me died in prison."

Iskouhi Parounagian b. 1897* "The loss of my mother in this way inflicted a pain of denial from which I have never recovered. For a long time, I would not speak."

Arn Chorn-Pond "My teacher told me that before I played this flute I had to speak a little bit. I have to, because when he taught me he was killed five days later by the Khmer Rouge. He was killed because he taught me to play.

Helen R. "One morning...they started taking away the children from the mothers."

Edward Racoubian b. 1906 "Of a caravan of nearly 10,000 people, there were now only some of us 300 left." 

Solomon Radasky b. 1910 "We had to walk to work barefoot. . . After a few days some people could not take it anymore, and they fell down in the road. If they could not get up, they were shot where they lay."

Peter S. b. 1936 "Death was there all the time. You saw people die. You moved their bodies."

Pom Sarun (b. 1950) "The day after Sarun was beaten with a cattle prod, for hiding her watch in a palm leaf (the neighbors must have told the soldiers on her), her husband ate the poisonous fruit."

Joseph Sher b. 1917 "I was careful not to let them hit me because when they beat you up, that was it. If you could not work, you were worth nothing to them."

Leo Scher b. 1921"We never hear from them. Nobody ever came back."

Tharcisse Seminega b. 1941 "He treated me as Inkotanyi because I was Tutsi and even, thereafter, I learned that they had invented a whole history on me, they had said that I had uniforms of Inkotanyi in my house, that I had dug a hole in my property to bury Hutu which Inkotanyi would kill." [Original in French]

Sophia Srey Sharp b. 1960 "[P]eople disappeared from the village; the cadre did not talk about what had happened to them, and no one dared to ask." Also here

Rose Ickovits Weiss Svarcs* "Because we had no facilities to wash in, in no time diarrhea and the spreading of all kinds of bacteria started to eliminate the population."

Hayastan Terzian* b. 1905 "Consul Davis saved us. Everybody else, my sisters, my maternal aunt, all of them, all of them, were deported. Our whole village was wiped out."

Sambo Thouch b. 1938 "He just took off his wedding band and said, "Save this. Save this so you can feed the children."

Loung Ung  b. 1969 "The soldier finishes dumping the clothes onto the pile. I cannot take my eyes off my dress. . .I do not hear the fingers strike a match . . . the next thing I know the pile of clothes bursts into flames and my red dress melts like plastic in the fire." Also here

Anna W.  "We had to give up our clothes and shower. Then they shaved us...the parents were with us. That was terrible. Father, mother had to undress, too."

Martin Wasserman b. 1925 "A death march was: anybody who couldn't walk, stayed back and they shot him. No question. I had two friends who fell back. I told them, Don't go to the back. Stay in the front. That's the best way. I was holding them up and carrying them for a long time."

Kalmen Wewryk* b. 1906 "Starvation isn't something you can communicate with words. Only those who have been through it know."

Carl Wilkens (eyewitness) "People in the neighborhood knew we had Tutsis in house. They'd seen them and threatened us. 'Next time your white man comes out we're going to kill him. We know he's keeping people there.' For three weeks we didn't leave our house."

Ranachith Yimsut "I cried my heart out when I recognized a few dead bodies next to me."

Yolande "What troubles me most is the silence surrounding our plight; we have always cried for help, and no one has ever listened."

Shep Zitler * b. 1917 "This is the only picture I have of my family. . . Except for my sister Rachel and myself, none of them died a natural death."

Websites and books:
Voices of the Holocaust Interviews conducted in 1946 in displaced persons camps around Europe and transscribed into English. Illinois Institute of Technology website voices.iit.edu

Lorna Touryan Miller, Donald Eugene Miller, Survivors : An Oral History of the Armenian Genocide (February 1999) Univ California Press, 1999, 274 pp.

See also the Miller's The Armenian Genocide: Survivor Interview Guide (helpful as a giude to any survivor interview) www.cilicia.com/armo10b1.html

Kim DePaul and Dith Pran, editors, Children of Cambodia's Killing Fields Memoirs by Survivors Introduction by Ben Kiernan, Yale University Press. 1999, 199pp.

Carol Wagner, Soul Survivors Stories of Women and Children in Cambodia With photographs by Valentina DuBasky Creative Arts Book Company 833 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, CA 2002, 259 pp.

Soul Survivors gives voice to the women and children who survived the Khmer Rouge's secret genocide and the two decades of civil war that followed. The moving personal narratives document the lives of twelve people who stayed in Cambodia after the genocide when nearly two million people died between 1975 and 1979 from execution, starvation or disease. It includes two refugees who came to the US as orphans, returning as young adults to help their country. Coming from diverse backgrounds, including a farmer, a teacher, a Buddhist nun, a landmine victim and a women's leader, the survivors' engaging accounts demonstrate the strength and goodness of the human spirit. Additional chapters describe how the Khmer Rouge came to power, the role of the US in Cambodia, the problem of six million landmines, the Buddhist peace movement, and how to help women and children in Cambodia.

Broken Links:

Garabet Bogosyan
b.@1908 "One day soldiers had come and they rounded up all the men"

Shahnazar Keotahian b. 1902 "Suddenly an order was given to stop under a walnut tree."

Jesús Tecú Osorio "They took them one by one to a ravine that was about twenty meters from where we were. We heard shots, screams and crying."

Prevent Genocide International

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