During the past few decades the concept of the Holocaust has suffered an incredible depreciation. For millions of people around the world the Holocaust means "just” six million Jews who were killed during the World War II. Those people are willing to argue not only about the exact number of victims of the Holocaust (after all, more Germans and Russians were killed during the World War II, so what is so special about killing Jews?), but even about the very existence of this phenomenon.
Six million dead is too much for the human imagination to comprehend. Stalin expressed it well: In matters of human perception, one death constitutes a tragedy, but a million deaths represent only a statistic. Stalin had a point: our individual capacity for dealing with tragedy is limited and, when overwhelmed with reality, we take refuge in statistics. Thus one man expressing his own experience and that of his closest family has a much stronger impact than dry numbers.
In order to understand the concept of the Holocaust, one should not think about "six million Jews” or "one-and-a-half million Jewish children,” but about the single three-year-old girl who was taken by force from her parents and thrown into the gas chamber to suffocate. Or, about the one-year-old boy, torn out by an SS-man from his mother’s arms, grasped by legs, his head smashed against wall in his mother’s view. This was the Holocaust. Not so perished the Russians and the Germans. Only after realizing these examples of sadism, can they be multiplied by six million. For the horror and bestiality lie in individual experiences, not in numbers.
The Holocaust had a variety of expressions. Fear and horror, abuse and murder, starvation and exhaustion, and extreme loneliness. But there were also heroism, efforts to help others, and the struggle to defeat the monster of Nazism.
The reader will note that some details are repeated in various chapters, which may be annoying. The reason for it is inherent in the nature of this book: it was written not in chronological order, but by subjects, such as starvation, fear and horror, etc., and the repetitions became unavoidable. For this I apologize.