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elvira kohn

In the war, my father was an Austro-Hungarian soldier [in the KuK army] [1] and was imprisoned by the Serbs in Nis in 1915. In the place where he was captured, there were many typhus patients and my father was also infected with typhus. He died in 1915 in Nis and was buried there. I was only one year old when my father died and I practically never met him. All I know about my father is from the stories that my mother told me and from a few pictures that I still have.
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After Kolodvorska Street, we moved to Daniciceva Street, and then to King Aleksandar Street, that was the name then, I don't know what it's called today. We lived in a one-story house with three rooms, a kitchen and a bathroom. We didn't have running water but we had a well in our backyard. Vinkovci had a gas plant, so we had gas and not electricity. We used it for heating and cooking. Apart from a few fruit-trees and a small garden, we didn't have anything else in the backyard.
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baby pisetskaya

On 5th March 1953 Stalin died. I was raised in Stalin's era. I was a member of the Komsomol and believed in Stalin enormously. I grieved a lot after him.
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To be able to buy medicines and more food for me, my parents took their silverware to the Torgsin store [15]. My father had to give his barbershop to the state. He couldn't keep it because of the high taxes.
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When the Great Patriotic War began Luba and her family evacuated to the village of Antonovka, Sarkansk district in Kazakhstan. Luba's mother-in-law died on the way to evacuation.
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In 1914 my grandfather Yakov was mobilized to serve in World War I. He was captured by Austrians and spent two years in captivity. He returned home in 1917 and began to build a house with Grandmother Beila.
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At the beginning of the Great Patriotic War Isaac went to the front and perished.
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In 1953, during the time of the Doctors' Plot [5], he was arrested as an 'enemy of the people' [6] and sentenced to ten years in Norilsk, Krasnoyarsk region. He was released after five years of imprisonment when Khrushchev [7] came to power. He had all his war decorations returned to him [see Rehabilitation in the Soviet Union] [8]. The authorities sent him to a recreation center for two months to improve his health. After returning from exile he went to work as administrator with the Odessa Philharmonic.
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During the Great Patriotic War they were all evacuated to Tashkent [today Uzbekistan]. Uncle Yakov was released from military service since the thumb of his right hand was deformed.
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Jankiel Kulawiec

My daughter and son-in-law even had trouble once in connection with my daughter's background. It was in 1968, when my son-in-law was working in Lubin in a mining corporation. One day his colleagues asked him if he had any enemies. His department had received an anonymous note that his wife was a Jew. They gave him the note and he took it home to show my daughter. She had a friend, a teacher, who she was very close to. She would come to Legnica to visit me with them, they literally 'ate out of the same bowl' [i.e., they were like sisters]. When Roza saw the note, she immediately recognized the style [handwriting] as Asia's, that friend. Shortly afterwards it turned out that it was her. My daughter and son-in-law went to tea with her, and showed her and her husband the note, and after they left they eavesdropped at the door and heard them arguing and this Asia's husband reproaching her for writing the note. That was that incident.
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Then in 1968, when there were all those problems, I sent my papers off to Warsaw, to the Ministry of Interior Affairs, but they turned me down.
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I experienced the events of 1968 [17] at first hand, to some extent. Perhaps not directly from people, but through political pressures at work. I was simply forced to resign from my post and move to a less important post. That was a kind of unofficial suggestion from my engineer. He wanted to protect me, because my job was a very responsible one - I was a gang foreman at a furnace where they smelted golden copper classified as 4 9s [highest quality]. I was responsible for the work of the whole team, eleven people. And he was worried that somebody could damage something maliciously, and the melt would be rejected, which I would be held responsible for. So he made it clear that it would be better if I wrote an application myself for transfer to a less important position, to smelting lower quality copper. And that's what I did. As a result of that anti- Semitic campaign I lost about 1,500 [zloty] in monthly pay. It was a lot then, a tram ticket was something around half a zloty at the time.

As well as the change in my position, I also remember other events from that year. There were various marches, demonstrations, some of them anti- government - one such took place outside my window. Not because I lived there - they were just marching past. I remember that they had this banner - 'Down with communism', or something like that. And one Jew I knew - Friedman - was walking along. I think he was going home from work. They must have known him, because a few of them stepped out from the group and said to him, 'Come along, Jew, shout with us "Down with the PZPR!"'

There were anti-Jewish demonstrations too. Where I worked there was a mass meeting [an employee rally organized by the directors of state enterprises, at which a propaganda-style lecture was held; this was used frequently by the communist authorities as an instrument of propaganda], in my department, about the Israeli attack on the Arab countries. And there they shouted 'Down with Jewish nationalism.
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When there were pro-fascist moods in the last years before the war, and they showed German chronicles in the cinema about how Hitler ruled and how good they had it there, we would throw eggs or something at the screen.
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