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elvira kohn

My mother came to Zagreb, along with the hospital and the pharmaceuticals, three weeks after me. In the meantime, I stayed with a friend from Dubrovnik, a non-Jewess, in a house on Buliceva Street. When my mother came, I found a bigger apartment for the two of us, and we moved to Stanciceva Street. After the war, the defense and army headquarters of the JNA [10] was formed, and I was appointed by the supreme headquarters of Croatia to work in the newly established defense and army headquarters.

At first, I had to organize the photo laboratory, collect the necessary equipment, cameras, and so on in order for the photo department to function. I also gathered the people who worked with me, as I soon became head of the photo department. I supervised the work of others in my department but I also took photos myself. My love for photography and for capturing important and interesting moments was still very strong.

I usually attended party meetings and took photographs; there were various events that took place, like meetings or celebrations of 8th March, 1st May, 25th May [11] and other party celebrations or commemorations. I had to travel a lot and I was really quite busy, but I enjoyed doing my work. I was very lucky to having found a profession that I loved.

In my work, I often met JNA officials and important people; once I met Josip Broz Tito [12]. The photos that I took were mostly published in local newspapers, such as Vjesnik and Naprijed. Often, I took photos for my own pleasure: shots of nature, the people that I loved, my friends.

I continued taking photos of small children, usually my friends' or just children that I saw on the streets. Even after I retired in 1964, I continued taking photographs privately and enjoying photography as an art form. I donated my photographs and negatives to the Croatian History Museum, and they are still kept there today.

I never married. It is my love for photography that should be blamed for this. I was always away; I spent three days in Zagreb, then five days on a trip working, then I was in Zagreb again, then working away again. It was hard to find someone who would have tolerated this! One suitor once told me, 'You love your camera more than you love me!' True, I loved my work, and I dedicated myself and my whole heart to it.
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baby pisetskaya

Our friends, relatives, my son, my daughter-in-law Rita and my grandson Felix often came to see us. I got along well with Rita and I loved my grandson. I spent my vacations in recreation centers in the Caucasus. I bought vacations at the plant that were mostly paid by the trade union. I went to resorts such as Pitsunda, Gagry, Sochi, Adler and Kobuleti.
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Shelia and I had many Jewish and Russian friends. We didn't care about nationality: there was no anti-Semitism in Kursk before the war. My sister and I and our friends went to swim in the river, celebrated Soviet holidays and went to parades. There were many gatherings in our apartment. My friends from the orchestra visited me. We sang, danced and had a lot of fun.
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In 1940 I was awarded a trip to Sochi on the Black Sea for my successful studies. I went with Abdulla Yusupov, a Tatar boy from another school. This was an unforgettable tour: we went mountaineering and bathed in the sea. We had bus tours to the towns of Adler and Chosta. We went to places of interest and took a drive on the funicular.
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I remember going to the Sophievka park in Uman with my parents and Shelia. My father also took us to Puscha-Voditsa in Kiev where I saw a train for the first time in my life.
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There was a hotel near my grandfather's house. It collapsed during an earthquake in 1932. Actors of the Jewish Musical Comedy Theater of Fischson stayed in this hotel when the theater was on tour in Uman. I still have the paper with the advertisement about it. Clara Yung and Beba Yunesca, actresses of this theater, used to rehearse in a big room in my grandfather's house. We had no piano at home and a violinist came with them. I was five years old then and attended all their rehearsals. Then we organized family concerts at home for ourselves where I sang arias from musicals. Our family was fond of music and we always had a lot of fun at home.
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Jankiel Kulawiec

A Jewish theater was organized. [Editor's note: the Gerson Duo Amateur Jewish Theater occupied the former German army cinema auditorium on Nowy Swiat Street for a few years after the war.] I remember that we set it up out of our own pockets and with our own work. It had been a military cinema, German, and then Russian. There was this large auditorium, and we built this super-smashing stage, and it was a fancy theater. Actors would come from Warsaw and Wroclaw. I remembered once they played 'The Fiddler on the Roof.'

There were various different Jewish events, there was an active Jewish choir in the same place. I belonged to the choir myself at the beginning of the 1950s, before I started working in the foundry. The chairperson was Roza Gottlieb. There was an amateur drama club. And there was a club house, where you could chat, read a book, a newspaper - both in Yiddish, e.g. Folksztyme [22] and in Polish. It was open every day, and there was a buffet there too.
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I remember that I liked going to the cinema. The cinema was owned by the town authorities, and it was in the fire station hall. That was the largest hall in town, and I remember that they divided it in half. The firemen stayed in one half, and in the other they put benches, and they'd built a kind of outhouse on tall posts for all the apparatus. And that was where we went to the movies. A lot of Jews used to go, and I think there were about three Jewish films too, in Yiddish. I remember two that I saw. One was 'The Dibbuk' [Dybuk, directed by Michal Waszynski, Poland 1937], and the other was 'Yidl mit dem Fidl' [Yidl with the Fiddle, directed by Joseph Green, Poland 1936]. At first they were silent movies, you see. The first film with sound was that Soviet one, 'Vesola Rebyata' [Vesyoliye Rebyata, directed by Grigoriy Alexandrov, USSR 1934] in the original, or in the Polish translation - 'Swiat sie smieje' ['The World is Laughing']. That was in around 1933-34.
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Later on I read a lot. Mostly these pamphlets - the 'one-groszy library.' These were simple booklets of a few pages, very cheap, written in Yiddish by various Jewish writers and journalists. That was a summary of the most important world events, political matters and others. Even when the Titanic sank they wrote about that, and the thoughts of various communist leaders, that kind of thing. And that was the 'Groszen Bibliotek' for a grosz! This thin pamphlet.
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Mico Alvo

My father didn't have many friends, but he had some very good friends. He had Mr. Nehama, who was a professor of his. He was also friends with the brother of Mr. Nehama. He was a manager in a bank and he later married a Christian. He had some other friends that were called Hassid. They were family friends.

Because there were many brothers and sisters, they would meet up every Sunday in one house or the other. They didn't have any time during the week. They only went to the cinema, as they loved the cinema. At the time, the cinema was considered the best entertainment. My grandfather and grandmother didn't go, but Mother and Father would go at least once a week. There were four or five cinemas in Thessaloniki then. They used to say that the Dionysia was the best cinema and that it showed the best films.

Good films were being produced at the time. There were German films, too, which were quite good but Mother and Father preferred the French ones, as they could understand those better and didn't have to read the subtitles. They didn't bring any American cinematography to Thessaloniki at the time. We had French and German films and that was all. The most famous film was 'Imperio Argentina.' This film was not known only by the Jews, but all of Thessaloniki loved it. Of course, another big hit was Eduardo Bianco; he was the one that played the tango. Thessaloniki went crazy over his performance.

In the summer, my parents would go out to the 'Luxemburg' after dinner. It was on the sea side, close to the shipyards. They would go there, listen to music and dance. Sometimes they would also go to Flocas. Flocas was regarded as luxury restaurant. They would go to the White Tower when there was something playing at the theater. Some good plays used to be performed.

They would also go out and eat at the 'Olympos-Naoussa' and at 'Soutzoukakia.' When the 'Soutzoukakia' first opened, I remember, they took us there, too. They told us, 'You will see, we will go to a place that you will like very much.' And then they took us to the Soutzoukakia of Rogoti. And indeed we went and we liked it very much. They didn't take us, the children, out much; it would be the two of them going out mostly. They would leave us at home. They mostly went out on Saturdays, Fridays almost never, because my father opened the shop on Saturdays.
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When we were in the third grade of high school, we bought a 'plava.' A plava is a boat with a flat hull. The five of us put a fifth of the money in each and bought a boat. There was a shipyard in Aretsou [one of the best known seaside locations in eastern Thessaloniki during the interwar and post war years.]. We went and sailed from there. I remember that the price for the boat was 3,000 drachmas and we bought it. They gave us 50 drachmas weekly, so we saved up and bought it. Then we started maintaining it. We put up a sail and a tent. We used to row to Perea. We were four so one of us at the time would row.

We told our parents, and they weren't excited that we had bought it. They were worried. But we all knew how to swim really well. Then we got a cutter. We had a great longing. I was crazy about sailing. In the summers we would spend a lot of our time at the Sailing Club. We maintained the boat on our own. The boats were made out of wood. You had to scrape it, put stucco, paint it and put it in the water again. And we did all that ourselves.

We used to go out to the cinema. We would go to any movie theater if we the film that was on. All the films were very modest. You didn't see any nude shots, ever. It had to be suitable for our age, otherwise we weren't allowed to go. We used to go early, either from 5pm to 7pm or from 7pm to 9pm, not later than that. And what we really enjoyed was to walk home afterwards. We really liked walking.

We would also go on Sunday walks in the evening, we would go up to Arsakli [village on the outskirts of Thessaloniki], or towards the road that led to the farm school [52], or towards Karabournaki [cape on the opening of the Thermaic Gulf] in Sofouli. We were all friends. If someone wanted to say something to somebody else, he would walk next to him and talk. We would occupy the whole pavement. We walked a bit clumsily.
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Rafael Genis

My elder brother was a member of Betar [3] and enrolled me there. I didn't attend the meetings of Betar, where the methods of foundation of the Jewish state were discussed. Our Grandpa made brown shirts for me and my brother. I became a member of Maccabi [4], we often arranged all kinds of sports game and contests. We still celebrated Jewish holidays and Sabbath at home and we did it not to hurt our parents. On holidays I went to the synagogue with my father though I didn't believe in God at that time.
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I worked with Shilenis for three years. I became a good locksmith and I was also particularly good with engines. There were cases when customers didn't go to Shilenis, but directly to me. The master bore no grudge and valued me as a worker. Along with him we got a task to fix a dynamo machine which was used at the power station and we coped with that. I made money and felt confident. There were both Jews and Lithuanians in my company. We went to the park, to each other's place, to the cinema - a small wooden building, to the dancing party which we were looking forward to every Sunday. There was a football field on the square and we often played football.
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Usually on Saturday, after the synagogue, we went for a walk in a park. I loved singing. When I grew up, I joined a children's choir organized in the synagogue by photographer Poser, a passionate lover of singing. On Saturday after the service and lunch we had our rehearsals or just sang in the synagogue.
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Sabbath was mandatory in our house. Mother baked challot and made very tasty dishes. We also had chicken on Sabbath. Whether it was bought from someone or taken from our husbandry, it was taken to a shochet in the synagogue. When I grew up, it was my duty to take hens to the shochet. I brought it home, and the others plucked it and threw the feathers in the stove. Mother only used goose down and feathers for pillows. I remember she always plucked goose feathers. When we asked for her permission to go outside, she gave us a task to get one glass of down and after that we were free to go.
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