Holocaust survivors recall most vivid memories

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In this photo taken Wednesday, April 9, 2014, Israeli Holocaust survivor Asher Aud (Sieradski), 86, originally from Poland, shows his number tattooed on his arm by the Nazis at the Auschwitz concentration camp as he poses for a portrait in Jerusalem. Of all the atrocities he endured, Aud said the strongest memory is the one that was most traumatic _ parting from his mother at the age of 14. It was September 1942. The Nazis had rounded up the Jewish community inside the local cemetery and were preparing to deport them. His father and older brother had already been taken and he was left with his mother and younger brother, Gavriel.”I remember looking down and I happened to be standing on my grandmother’s tombstone,” he recalled. “The Germans walked among us and anytime they saw a mother with a child, they tore the child from her arms and threw them into the back of trucks.” That’s when he realized life as he knew it was over.” I looked around and I just said ‘mother, this is where we are going to be separated,'” he said. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

In this photo taken Wednesday, April 9, 2014, Israeli Holocaust survivor Asher Aud (Sieradski), 86, originally from Poland, shows his number tattooed on his arm by the Nazis at the Auschwitz concentration camp as he poses for a portrait in Jerusalem. Of all the atrocities he endured, Aud said the strongest memory is the one that was most traumatic _ parting from his mother at the age of 14. It was September 1942. The Nazis had rounded up the Jewish community inside the local cemetery and were preparing to deport them. His father and older brother had already been taken and he was left with his mother and younger brother, Gavriel.”I remember looking down and I happened to be standing on my grandmother’s tombstone,” he recalled. “The Germans walked among us and anytime they saw a mother with a child, they tore the child from her arms and threw them into the back of trucks.” That’s when he realized life as he knew it was over.” I looked around and I just said ‘mother, this is where we are going to be separated,'” he said. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

In this photo taken Wednesday, April 9, 2014, Israeli Holocaust survivor Ester Koffler Paul, 82, originally from what is now Ukraine, poses for a portrait in Jerusalem. When she thinks back on her Holocaust ordeal, she mostly remembers her sister. Paul was 8, and her sister Nunia was 10 in 1941, when the Nazis invaded their hometown of Buchach in what is now Ukraine. Their mother died before the war and their father was taken by the Nazis and murdered along with 700 other Jewish men. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

In this photo taken Wednesday, April 9, 2014, Israeli Holocaust survivor Shmuel Bogler, 84, originally from Hungary, poses for a portrait in Jerusalem. Bogler never had the opportunity to say goodbye to his family, rounded up from their home in Bodrogkeresztur and, like most of the Hungarian Jewish community, transported to Auschwitz. Of the family’s 10 children, one had died young, three had fled before the war and three others had previously been taken to work camps. Bogler was left with his parents, one brother and one sister when they were crammed into a cattle car. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

In this photo taken Wednesday, April 9, 2014, Israeli Holocaust survivor Asher Aud (Sieradski), 86, originally from Poland, poses for a portrait in Jerusalem. Aud will be one of the six survivors chosen to light a symbolic torch at Israel’s official ceremony Sunday night marking the remembrance day. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

In this photo taken Wednesday, April 9, 2014, Israeli Holocaust survivor Jacob Philipson Armon, 76, originally from the Netherlands, poses for a portrait in Jerusalem. For Armon, memories are hard to come by. He was only two when his native Holland was captured by the Nazis, and three years later he went into hiding just like his more famous compatriot Anne Frank. The family’s five children were dispersed among various non-Jews who risked their lives to protect them. His story has mostly been recreated by documents, the testimony of others and the smidgen of images seared into his mind. “I remember the scary things. I remember crying and being so hungry that I couldn’t fall asleep,” he said. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

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JERUSALEM (AP) — In an annual ritual, Israel will come to a standstill Monday morning for the country’s official Holocaust remembrance day. Air raid sirens will wail across the country as pedestrians stop in their tracks and drivers exit their vehicles and bow their heads to honor the six million victims of the Nazi genocide of World War II that wiped out a third of world Jewry.

For Israelis of all walks of life, the two-minute tribute offers a moment to remember the victims and focus on an image that dreaded period represents to them. For Israel’s dwindling population of elderly Holocaust survivors, however, the painful memories linger year-round.

Hundreds of thousands of survivors made their way to pre-state Israel after the war and helped build the new country. With less than 200,000 survivors remaining, Israel is still home to the largest such community in the world.

To capture the experience in a snapshot would be impossible. Still, The Associated Press asked a group of survivors who endured the worst horrors of the Holocaust to share their strongest singular memory. Without exception, each focused on those closest to them who did not survive.

— Asher Aud (Sieradski), 86 (Poland): Married, three children and ten grandchildren. Retired from Israel Military Industries, a state-owned weapons manufacturer.

Asher Aud’s odyssey reads like a history of the Holocaust’s horrors.

Over six years, he was separated from his parents and siblings in his native Polish town of Zdunska Wola

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