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elvira kohn

Today people say that the Italians didn't really kill anyone directly in the camp. My answer to that is: the Italians did and didn't kill in the camp. They killed indirectly. They killed by forcing us to work, by giving us small amounts of food, by giving us orders, by treating us like a lower race. They were cruel.

Often the inmates who had small children were given half a liter of milk for a child. The commandant of the camp who was among the worst, saw a mother with her child in one hand and a bottle of milk in the other, approached the mother, took the bottle from her and spilled the milk. They were cruel in these ways: starving us, mistreating us, scaring us, forcing us to work.
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baby pisetskaya

In 1905 my grandfather, grandmother and their three children moved to Uman, a small provincial town in the west of Ukraine, escaping from the terrible Odessa pogrom [2] that year.
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Jankiel Kulawiec

That was at the time of that famous law in the Sejm about the ban on ritual slaughter [8]. So the Jews started killing their animals on the quiet. And there were these 'confidants' [people who collaborated with police in searching for underground slaughterers], who went around looking out for that. One of them came upon a butcher who was actually in the middle of slaughtering like that. And the butcher knifed him, which set off an incredible pogrom.

There was a similar event in Losice, only I don't remember in which year. [Editor's note: this pogrom, provoked by a butcher named Kabrilok and his gang in 1938, was averted at the last moment by Russian military troops, invited from Siedlce by two Jews. The story below is an exaggerated version of the facts.] The Jews in our town had all sorts of dairies and similar businesses, and in connection with that they used to go round the villages to buy up milk or livestock. Two Jews had gone to one of these villages, and it was at the same time as a recruitment drive for the army. So the recruits attacked them and hacked them into pieces, and their horses dragged their bodies back to Losice. I vaguely remember that they put all the pieces together in the synagogue and they lay like that for about two days [the aninut usually lasts a day or two], I think. The police even came and investigated the case.

Another time some students studying in Warsaw and Siedlce came for their vacation, and set up anti-Semitic pickets outside Jewish shops. If a Pole went in, they would stick a paper pig to his back. And it even escalated into a running battle between those lads and the farmers who'd come to buy things from the shops.
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To go back to pre-war Losice, I remember that we heard rumors of intensifying anti-Semitism. I remember when we heard about the pogrom in Minsk Mazowiecki [7], that was sometime around 1935-36. Minsk wasn't far from Losice, about 40 km - so word got around. It was a hot topic; Jews were fleeing from there to Losice, and people talked about it. Or the pogrom in Brest [now Belarus]. Brest was still Polish then.
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nisim navon

The first Germans arrived in April 1941. The Albanians liked the Germans.
They came down from villages to welcome them and kiss their boots. Right
after the Germans came, the Jews were ordered to wear a yellow band with
the word Jude, and form a brigade of 200 adults from Kosovo to work at the
stone pit. When the Nazis first rounded up the Jews in Pristina, they came
with a truck to our house and took away everything from us, 10 kilos of
gold, family jewelry which we had had for four generations. Five bags were
all that were left, one each for my father, mother, sister, grandfather and
me. They made our father carry all of the family's belongings out of the
house onto trucks, the whole time beating him on the spine. His back never
recovered from these beatings and he never regained his strength. Rukula
and our mother were both operated on in 1946 for respiratory problems that
developed during the war.

We thought that the Germans wouldn't take my grandfather as he was old, so
we gave him everything we had. But my grandfather was taken to prison
immediately and killed. Soon after grandfather was murdered, my grandmother
died of sorrow and lack of medicine. My two uncles and I were put in labor
camp where we worked at the stone-pit 12 hours a day. My sister, together
with another 40 Jewish women, had to clean streets and public buildings
that belonged to German organizations in the city. They worked 12 hours as
well.

Six months later, two policemen, one Italian and the other Albanian, took
me to be shot in the village of Milesevo, 6 km away from Pristina. A
Gestapo chief asked me if I was a communist. I answered that my family was
capitalist. He thought for some time and released me. When I came back, the
Italian police put me and my cousin in prison in Pristina. I was in prison
from October to December. I was in the room with 40 prisoners, mostly Serbs
expelled from villages by the Albanians. We had to work and we were beaten.
I still have a scar on my arm. In December the Germans transferred me into
a prison in Tirana, where the living conditions were better. I stayed there
till January. In the meantime I didn't have any information about my
family. While I was in Pristina they were moved to Elbasan, Albania. In
February I was removed to Elbasan, but still didn't know that my family was
there, as I was in another part of the prison together with thieves and
criminals. My family was with six other Jewish families. Later I found out
that we were in the same prison. We were there until the end of August
1943.
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Mico Alvo

My brother went down to Athens to take his exams for the Polytechnic in June 1942. They called us all to gather at Eleutherias Square [70] on 1st or 11th July, I don't remember the exact date. There many things happened... It was the first call for forced labor: to go and be drafted for labor. And the Germans transformed it into a feast. They had people photographing all around the balconies of the buildings that they had occupied. They would make you do gymnastic exercises; they would beat you up, two or three died from the beating. And they also had the women soldiers that were called 'Blitzmädchen.' This is a compound word: 'Mädchen' means lady and 'Blitz' means thunder. When we saw this happening we called my brother and told him, 'Don't come back to Thessaloniki.' And from that time on he stayed in Athens.
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Rafael Genis

There were about 14 places out of town where Jews were executed. I don't know exactly where my kin perished. Father's sisters Chaya Riva and Channa also perished. And my brother Dovid, who was studying at Telsiai yeshivah, was shot in Rainai along with 300 rabbis. My mother and sister Tsilya lived a bit longer. One lady, who crept out from the pile of corpses told me about it later. They were in the ghetto in Telsiai. Lithuanians often went there to hire people. One of them wanted to take Tsilya and save her that way, but my sister clung on to my mother and didn't agree to part with her. Then a furious Fascist shot both Tsilya and my mother.
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On the day when the war broke out, my brother Liber and his wife Ida with their baby daughter - about two months old - came to see my parents. The lady said that she noticed the tail of the column, where Liber and Ida with the stroller, were walking. The Fascists took the stroller away and it was rolling on the curb. My brother darted after the stroller and the German shot him right away, then they shot the baby.
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Janina Duda

When someone mentions szmalcownicy [42], criminals from Jedwabne [43] or others, I understand that, I know, but you can’t look at any nation from the point of view of perversions, which exist in every society.
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Margarita Kamiyenovskaya

22nd June 1941 was a Sunday. It was an ordinary weekend morning, when people could stay longer in bed and then start the day. At noon Molotov's [25] speech was broadcast on the radio, where he announced that fascists had attacked [the USSR] without declaring war and he added, 'Our cause is just and we will win.'

Soon the Germans started air raids. Trains heading for the rear of Russia departed from Tallinn railway station. Authorized employees of Estonia were evacuated and my father was among them as he was a doctor. Thus, our family had no choice but to leave. My father tried convincing three of his sisters to get evacuated with him, but they flatly refused. They thought that three elderly political ladies, fluent in German, had nothing to fear. If the Soviet regime didn't exile them, the Germans would do no harm to them. People say that they were murdered by the Germans in 1941, but I think they were merely killed by Estonians. It might have happened before the Germans' arrival. There were cases like that.
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My mother went to a private Realschule [2] in Kiev. She did well and finished a full course there. This is all I know about my mother's childhood. Her family lived in Kiev. She told me about the Jewish pogroms [see Pogroms in Ukraine] [3], which had taken place in Ukraine before the revolution [see Russian Revolution of 1917] [4] and during the Civil War [5].Once my maternal grandfather was chased by pogrom-makers. He barely reached his friend's house. He even lost his rubber boots on the way. He spent the night at his friend's place after having called home. There were a lot of Jews in that district. There was a military unit in the vicinity. The Jews collected money and paid the soldiers monthly so that they maintained order. After that no pogroms took place in that district.
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tili solomon

In 1942 or 1943 they made us wear the yellow star [15]; it was a little piece of black cloth as wide as the opening of a glass, with a yellow star with six corners on it. It was attached with a safety pin. One day they simply told us that, as of the following day, we couldn't leave our houses without wearing that star. I remember that a neighbor of ours, an old man with a beard, went to the toilet one Friday and forgot to wear his yellow star. They beat and insulted him in a terrible way because of that. The yellow star wasn't worn by Jews countrywide. After I went to Israel I found out that there were cities where they didn't wear it. My brother-in-law used to live in Braila and told me that they didn't have to wear the yellow star there.
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I think my husband Aurel told me that he had been at the prefecture 'that Sunday.' Jews were being shot there. Aurel and some others were forced to wash the pavement with a hose. There were so many bodies in the courtyard that Sunday that the water flowed to the gutters on the street mixed with blood. On Monday morning two of my uncles who lived there went to their workplaces together. One of them was a watchmaker and had a workshop on Stefan Cel Mare Boulevard. When he got there and saw what was going on in the street, instead of opening the store he entered the courtyard, where some horrified relatives of his asked him, 'How did you get here? There's big trouble in Iasi.' The other one went further away. He was a clerk and worked for another Jew named Kratenstein who owned a small factory. He was supposed to get to I. C. Bratianu Street. Nobody knows whether he made it or not. But his wife and my cousin, who are now in Israel, claim that he was murdered on the street that Monday morning; he didn't get to the train.
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In 1941 there was the pogrom. Anti-Semitism burst out in Iasi. All the Jewish men on Socola, Nicolina and Crucii Streets were seized and taken to the bank of the Bahlui River, where machine guns had been installed, ready to shoot them. Only one neighbor got away. I think he had a mistress who lived opposite his house, a German woman who simply kept him at her place and refused to hand him over, although she already lived with a man. I later found out that this man was assigned to Tesatura [Editor's note: weaving mill in Iasi, founded before the war. In the communist period it became a state-owned textile enterprise.]; he was actually a German spy who had been sent to Romania. All the Jewish men were lined up on the river bank, ready to be executed. There was this police sergeant, Manuta; he had been a neighborhood policeman and knew all the Jews. He wasn't really an anti-Semite. He treated the neighborhood Jews decently. He often took bribes in order to let the merchants practice their trade in peace, but didn't ask for much; it was a way of making an extra buck.

It was Sunday. In that period he was the prefect's chauffeur. He drove downtown, he must have lived in Podul Ros, and saw what was happening on the river bank; he saw them [Jews] lying on the ground awaiting the execution. He probably went back and told the prefect about it. I don't know what really happened, but the fact is that they were all released instead of being shot. My father was among them. We didn't even know what was going on in the city. [Editor's note: Mrs. Solomon can't tell precisely how the release order was issued, but she thinks it was a less official action; she suspects Manuta of having persuaded the prefect.
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Isroel Lempertas

In 1938-39 pro-Nazi public opinion was streamlined in Lithuania. The teacher of arts, a Lithuanian, called upon fascism among youth. I do not know who of them did it, but each morning there were anti-Semitist posters in the lobby of lyceum, namely a Jew with a 'snoot', plaits, distorted appearance and clothes, with a humped back. Those posters were removed, but next morning they appeared again. I know for sure that two guys from that circle shot Jews, including their classmates in 1941 during one of Hitler's actions. There was a very beautiful girl in our class, the daughter of the director of Jewish bank, Kock Glikman. Many guys wooed her, including one of those guys. She did not want to go with him and he shot her with his own hands during one of the actions in 1941. Many people, at least our family, understood, that fascism would bring calamity to our country and many people looked up to USSR. I am not sure if my father knew about political processes and repressions carried out by Stalin in USSR [Great Terror] [13]. He had never talked to me about it.
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