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elvira kohn

I attended public school, the regular elementary and high school in Vinkovci. There was no Jewish school. There were pupils of all kinds of religions and nationalities in this school and my friends were Jews and non- Jews alike. In my class in particular, there were 30 pupils, of which 13 were Jews, around 10 Eastern Orthodox because there were many Serb villages around Vinkovci, and the rest were Catholics and maybe some Evangelic.

Although there was no Jewish school, there was Jewish religious instruction, which was obligatory. Every Sunday we had religious classes and received grades; it was part of the school curriculum. We had a religious instructor whose name was Pollak. He taught us Hebrew, the Talmud, the Torah, some Jewish history and traditions.

On Saturdays we didn't have to attend classes in school, but we had to go to the synagogue. We also had to obtain a written statement signed by Rabbi Frankfurter saying that we were at the service on Saturday morning, and we had to bring this statement to school. It was like a confirmation that we were in the synagogue instead of being in class.
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baby pisetskaya

My son Vladimir lived with my parents. They loved him dearly and created all conditions for his studies. He studied well at school and had many friends of various nationalities. He didn't face any anti-Semitism at school.
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To refresh my knowledge of school subjects I went to the 10th grade at the local school for the second time. My sister Shelia also went to the local school. There was a frontier military unit near the village where we stayed and they began to invite me to give concerts to the military. The military helped me to find out via the evacuation agency in Buguruslan that my college was evacuated to Tashkent.
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I finished school with honors in 1941. On 21st June 1941 we had a prom. According to school traditions we went for a walk in the woods after the prom.
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My father's sister Ida was born in Uman in 1911. She finished a secondary school.
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Mico Alvo

My mother was born in 1901 in Thessaloniki. She went to the Gattegno school, I think, or to the Alliance, or both. Maybe she went first to the Alliance and later to the Gattegno. She went to elementary and secondary school for twelve years. Maybe high school was fewer years back then - I don't know if it was six years then or three. She knew Ladino, French and Greek very well. She spoke French very well. She learned Greek by practicing it. Maybe they did learn some Greek at school.

I remember that we always had Greek maids. I think that their fathers trusted the Jewish housewives very much, more so than the Christian ones, for their girls to become maids. They trusted them in the sense that they wouldn't let them take the wrong direction, as we had very strict principles and they were treated fairly.
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Daniel, my father's other brother, was at the shop doing the accounting. Before working at the shop he worked at the Amar bank [12]. It was a well known bank that mainly dealt with businesses. I think that they deliberately sent him to work there, to learn accounting. He was responsible for keeping all the books of the shop. He started working after I was born, between 1925 and 1930. He had gone to school at the Lycée. He spoke French very well and also Greek he knew better than all the others.

He got married to a girl from Volos. I think she was a Romaniote Jew [13] because she didn't know Ladino. She spoke only Greek and she learned Ladino later. Her name was Esther Matathia. We knew her as Roula. She was a great woman and a very beautiful one. When she lived in Volos, everyone knew her. Their marriage was an arranged one. Roula had an uncle here who was a notary, Samouilidis. He arranged it.
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We had both male and female teachers. In the first grade of high school we had Mme. Moissonier. In the second, we had Mme. Millet, but she didn't teach all the subjects, I think we had a different teacher in literature and mathematics. From the third grade onwards it was all separate.

There was one teacher for each subject. They also had a laboratory, 'the lab,' as they used to call it. The Lycee had a great lab for physics and chemistry. We also had a 'salle des cartes.' We had a classroom that had all the maps, and that's where we used to have our geography class.

Mathematics, physics, chemistry, we were being taught in French. We had French and Greek classes. For example, we studied French literature and Ancient Greek. What the law suggested. The same was the case with history and geography, we would study the geography of France that was of little interest to us, and we would study the geography of Greece, as the law suggested. We had a Greek teacher who taught us Greek and we also had a French teacher who taught us French. So, literature, history and geography we would have in both languages. For your Baccalaureate you had to take the exams in French, and it didn't matter whether you had studied in Thessaloniki or Dijon or in Marseilles. It was exactly the same everywhere and that's why it was so recognized everywhere.
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In our class we were about thirty or thirty-five students, boys and girls mixed, and we would sit at the desks two or three together, mixed. Our desks had either two or three seats. Most of the students were Christians. I didn't make any friends in this elementary school. Later on, in high school, I made some friends. In the fifth grade they elected me as chief of the class.

After Mrs. Mary, in the fifth and sixth grade, we had Mr. Dourgouti and Mrs. Evridiki. We had two teachers because we were taught more subjects by then. I remember that Mrs. Evridiki was a spinster and she was very strict. She used to beat us with a ruler.

Mr. Dourgoutis was someone that I will never forget. He was an amazing teacher and he had great communicative skills. When he gave the lesson, he would speak and we would all listen. He would write a couple of things on the blackboard that we copied in our notebooks. Based on that, we would read at home, and the next day we would go to the class and he would ask us questions.

He was teaching us many different subjects, but mostly mathematics, physics and chemistry. He also taught the class of gymnastics. He taught gymnastics to all grades. When we would go to a parade, he would be the leader of the parade, the one that gives the signs. I think that he was the only male teacher in this elementary school, the rest of them were women.

We would get tired having his class. He would tire us because we paid so much attention. And he would make us write and write. I learned very good spelling then. When I finished elementary school I could spell very well. I learned spelling from Mr. Dourgoutis and I cannot stand reading texts that have spelling mistakes. All the kids respected him and no-one dared to say a word.

He had taken part in the Smyrna Campaign [43], he was an old officer. And many times he would narrate stories from the expedition in class, without wasting too much time from the lesson, just as a small break. Since he was the one that was narrating, we would be upset that Greece lost. But he never spoke about retreat; he only spoke about forward march.

Many years later, when I was an adult, completely out of chance, he came and rented a house opposite ours on Kritis Street, and he would see me. In fact he had found out that there was a Jewish old people's home and he used to tell me, 'Mico, would it be possible to put me in the Jewish old people's home, too? After all, I raised so many Jews.
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Didi went to the YMCA kindergarten, because it was opposite our shop's warehouse. Mari would take her there in the morning and the employee from the shop would go and pick her up in the afternoon. She would take her to the warehouse and in the afternoon, after I shut the shop, I would go and pick her up from there.

Later on we took her to school. The first school that she went to was the Pedagogiki Academia [the school of the Teachers' Academy]. It would have been better if she had gone to the Rigas Feraios School, because it was a better school. But the Pedagogiki Academia was regarded then as the best school and there would be a draw to get in. While we had registered her at the Rigas Feraios, they rang us and said, 'You know, you have been drawn and you can send you daughter here.' She had a great time there but she would have got a better education in Rigas Feraios. Rigas Feraios was then regarded as the best school.

We had a piece of land right next to the sea, opposite the Military Academy. It was called the Varlamidis land. I had planted around 1000 fruit- bearing trees there. I would come back home around 2pm and the shop reopened at 5pm, so I had some time in between to go to the field. Many times she would tell me, 'Take me with you, daddy.' And because she didn't have to study all that much then, I would take her with me.

Didi went to the Calamarie high school [87]. We wanted her to learn French. The gymnasium at the time was for girls only. She was an average student and she needed a little push, especially in mathematics. Until the Lyceum she studied on her own. Didi was of the generation that had to take exams to enter the gymnasium. To get into Lyceum again she had to take exams. Thankfully, she passed her exams.

We had really good relationships with the teachers, too. In the end though, in the last two years of school, the mathematician would come to our house and give her some private tutoring. She was a smart girl though, because later on she was working for an airline company and she excelled in computers.
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Rafael Genis

By that time my elder brothers were working, having finished Jewish school. First, they helped Father and then they started learning some craft. Only the eldest, Dovid, wasn't working. He was eager to become a rabbi and went to a yeshivah in Telsiai.
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I went there for four years and then got transferred to the town Lithuanian lyceum. Both Lithuanians and Jews went there and we were very friendly. I don't remember a single case when I'd be hurt by someone. There were Lithuanians among my friends, who came over to our place. They were good to me. I was one of the top students at the lyceum and was often praised. The monthly tuition fee was ten litas. The full course was eight years and I wanted to finish it, but after my second year Mother said that it was enough paying for me as it was the time for me to start working and bring in some wages for the family. We were well-off and the family could afford my tuition, but nobody wanted to argue with Mom.
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Krystyna Budnicka

I stayed with the Grey Nuns for a very long time, up to my grammar school graduation, that is, until 1952. I finished elementary school in 1948 and had to choose a secondary school. I very much wanted to go to the grammar school run by the Nazarene Sisters, but the nuns said that I shouldn't, because I would be ruining my chances of a career. It was at the height of the Stalinist period and a church education was frowned upon. But I insisted. And the nuns were right - later on I had trouble getting a job. At school I was different, and didn't fit in. Not because I was Jewish, but because I was an orphan. The girls who went to that school were from well- off families. They brought white bread rolls with ham, while I had black bread and jam or dripping. I really never felt different because of my Jewishness. That was never an issue, it was something we never talked about - not because I concealed the fact, but because it just wasn't a topic that we discussed.
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There I started going to school. I was 13. In May 1945 we were taken to a village called Szczaki Zlotoklos, where we continued to go to school.
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