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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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Jankiel Kulawiec

To this day I have one ear that was torn by one of the teachers, who was called Bojko. Later it turned out that during the war that Bojko collaborated with the Germans. But at the time I didn't notice any anti-Semitic behavior from him.
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Mico Alvo

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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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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ferenc sandor

It was typical of my grandfather, Ferenc Rosenthal, that in the Neolog
school where he worked, the word cheder (a Jewish religious primary school
attended only by the children of the Orthodox) was considered a dirty word.
In Sopron there was both a Neolog school and an Orthodox one. Well, some
supervisor remarked: "This is not a school, this is a cheder." A word of
abuse, it was. And so my Grandfather retorted: "Yes, schools will become
cheders if they have directorates like ours.
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Ferenc Rosenthal, my grandfather, was a brother of Cecilia, my great
grandmother, and this rather unfortunate thing happened: he married his own
niece, my great grandmother's daughter, a very beautiful young girl. But
then my granddad was a full-fledged schoolteacher, and when he took fancy
to Janka, the 17-year-old niece of his, the poor creature was duly married
to the schoolteacher.
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The eldest child was Etelka, who later became a schoolteacher. She ended up
in a mental ward. She must have been quite a funny lady. I've got only the
faintest memories of her, maybe not even real memories, just from some
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Great-grandmother's sister, Aunt Fani, was a Jewish schoolteacher in Papa.
She had two sons, Geza and Miklos. Geza committed suicide. I do not know
why, and I have no more knowledge of him. Miklos was apparently gifted.
They apprenticed him to a bookbinder, but it was quite clear that his
ambition was to pursue further studies and that was what he did. For some
years he spent his summer holidays with my grandmother and grandfather in
Sopron. He told my grandfather, his uncle, that he would get a doctorate.
"If you get one," Grandfather said, "I'll get my head chopped off." So when
Miklos got his first doctorate, he said, "Uncle Ferenc, I am coming to chop
off your head." And when he got his second doctorate, he said, "Uncle, I am
coming to chop off your second head!
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Lily Arouch

I clearly remember the headmaster of the school, Ms. Valagianni. When things got worse in Thessalonica she called me into her office and said, 'my child I understand that now you might not be able to come to school, but you should know that whatever you want I am here and you can come to me.' At that time something like that was very important and I still remember; it gives me the chills. People in my school were nice, and I don't remember any anti-Semitic incidents.
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Arnold Fabrikant

We didn't like some teachers, for example, Ksenia Ivanovna, nicknamed 'Ksendza'. We played ugly tricks on her as best we could. On the other hand, our physics teacher Anatoliy, whose patronymic I don't remember, was a very good man, on the contrary. We all looked for tricky questions in popular magazines to ask him. When he didn't know the answer, he said, 'Kids, I don't know, I shall look it up at home and explain it next time.' He did give us an explanation, but we already had another bunch of questions ready for him. However, we knew physics brilliantly.

We had an interesting Ukrainian teacher, a gorgeous big man with a round head. He translated Beranger [Beranger, Pierre Jean de (1780-1857): French poet] into Ukrainian and used to recite these poems to us in our classes, and at the end of each class he promptly gave us the homework. In the next class he asked us for ten minutes and then started reciting poems again.

We liked our geography teacher, Yelizaveta Konstantinovna Dikoina, so much that our whole class went to her birthday parties - 25 of us. We kept this tradition even after she went to lecture at university. After she died we visited her children. There are few of us left. This year only seven of us were there.

We hated the German language and didn't know it at all. Our teacher was a short German man who murmured something through his nose. Our teacher of mathematics was Pavel Ivanovich, an invalid of World War I: he had lost his leg, was short and old with a moustache yellow from smoking. He got angry with poor pupils and knocked on the table with his stick, exclaiming, 'You, dummy, you know nothing!' There were no demonstrations of anti-Semitism at school.
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Anna Ivankovitser

I was 14 when we came to Chernovtsy. I didn't go to school. Mama was afraid that I would be sent to the labor front in Donbass like many other youngsters. She went to talk with the director of the Construction College, gave him a jar of honey, and I was admitted to college, although I was a little bit too young. I entered the college in 1944. Over half of the students in my group were Jews. We got along well and nobody cared about our nationality at that time. Most of our teachers were Jews, too. I graduated from this college in 1948.
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In 1933 my sister began attending a Ukrainian school in Shargorod. In 1938 I went to the first grade at the same school. I don't know why our parents decided to send us to the Ukrainian school when there was a Jewish school in Shargorod before the war. We studied arithmetic, Ukrainian language and literature, calligraphy (I didn't like it) and had singing and dancing classes and physical education. Our teacher for all subjects except singing and dancing was named Voitovich.
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mario modiano

What I remember vividly from my bar mitzvah is the hard time I had trying to learn enough Hebrew to be able to read the text. I had a teacher who came home and taught me how to parrot the text from the Torah that I was supposed to read at the service in the synagogue. I very much regret that I never really learned Hebrew. After the service at the synagogue there was a reception at home, and the whole family as well as many of my father's colleagues and employees came to celebrate with us. I also remember that on that occasion my maternal uncles gave me a bicycle as a gift, and that I fell in love with it. I just would never part with the bicycle so much so that the neighbors claimed I even went to the toilet with the bicycle.
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As a child I was very thin. I am looking at this photograph and cannot believe I was so thin. I remember that at the age of ten my father said to me that when I would become thirty kilos he would give me 1,000 drachmas. I started wearing glasses when I was in the sixth grade of elementary school. I was then trying to learn to play the violin that my uncle Joseph had given me. But then I soon discovered that I couldn't read the music score that was just one meter away. That's how we discovered that I was shortsighted. So I gave up the violin, and I got myself a pair of glasses.

I used to go to a private school called Zahariadis in Salonica. It was near the house at 25th Martiou tram terminal. It was a good school where they taught Greek in the morning and English in the afternoon. I have used English throughout my professional life, and what I know I owe to this teacher of English who gave us the basics of the language. I'm eternally grateful to him. It was largely thanks to him that I was able to perfect my English to the point of being able to write for a newspaper such as The Times of London.
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