The Shmooze

Holocaust Survivor Tweets Her Story

By Josh Tapper

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“Survival in Auschwitz,” 187 pages. “Fatelessness,” 272 pages. “Anka’s Story,” 140 characters.

As far as Holocaust memoirs go, Anka Voticky’s is unlike anything you’ll ever read, er, tweet.

The 97-year-old, who originally wrote a narrative memoir for her family’s records a few years ago, is sharing her story on the social media platform Twitter, posting snippets two or three times every day. The Azrieli Foundation, a Canadian non-profit, does the actual tweeting, disseminating Anka’s Story to over 300 followers to date.

Voticky, who now lives in Montreal, was born in Prague in 1913 and fled to Japanese-occupied Shanghai after the Nazis took power.

Her tweets touch on childhood sentimentality: “I met a nice Italian boy, Francesco Silivri, from Padua, who taught me Italian songs – I still sing them sometimes.”

The precariousness of life under Nazi rule: “I went shopping for food early one morning. When I got back, our maid, Mana, met me at the door and whispered, “The Gestapo are here!”

And heart-wrenching escape: “My sister-in-law’s mother stood on the station platform alone, howling in agony. The sound of her crying haunts me to this day.”

Holocaust memoirs deserve to be told, on any media platform, so as the survivor generation begins to diminish and the Holocaust fades further into the past, twenty-first century modes of communication might be a worthy option for telling and retelling these stories. Twitter could never capture the ruminative qualities of Primo Levi’s work or the harrowing narrative of Elie Wiesel’s, but it’s doing justice to “Anka’s Story,” delivering short, episodic doses of history straight to your TweetDeck.


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