We are here: Talking with Australia’s oldest holocaust survivors


1 May 2018

Fiona Harari’s book about memories of the holocaust is about life, not about death.

Ms Harari wanted to find out how the holocaust shaped some survivors’ unexpectedly long lives.

She searched for the victims of Nazism - members of the Jewish community, Roma, homosexual survivors, people in enforced labour camps or living in exile, finally interviewing 17 Jews and a member of the Polish Resistance.

“All were born in or before 1926, so they all have adult memories and had to be mentally and physically strong enough to talk about the impact the experience has had on their lives,” Ms Harari said.

While a lot of holocaust literature probes the war period, Ms Harari’s book looks at how events shaped complete lives.

”I wanted to know how those terrible years had an impact on their long lives and how they formed the people they became.

“We talked about how the events influenced their views on humanity or on the parent they became,” she said.

Some had never spoken outside their own families about their experiences, others were volunteer museum guides who were used to speaking out, but Ms Harari said all wanted their view of history acknowledged.

“Everyone had different reactions to the way that period shaped their lives but the one thing that unites them is that they all agree they are alive because of luck,” she said.

Fiona Harari will talk about her book We Are Here: Talking With Australia’s Oldest Holocaust Survivors on Thursday 10 May at Waverley Library Theatrette between 6.30 and 8pm. The talk is part of the Mark and Evette Moran Nib Literary Award program, Waverley Council’s National Literary Prize. The talk is free but bookings are essential through Eventbrite.com.au