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elvira kohn

We were first taken to the hotel Vrek in Gruz, a few kilometers from Dubrovnik. There we stayed for two months and at the beginning of January 1943 we were taken to Kupari. There were around 1200 Jews.

Kupari is about twelve kilometers from Dubrovnik and there we were interned in a Czech hotel that was situated on the seaside. It was a large hotel that was delimited with wire. We were only allowed to walk within the wired fence. The Italian soldiers were all over; there were also Italian guards who kept their eyes on us all the time.

They didn't allow us to go beyond the fence or to the coast because they thought that someone might swim away. So we had to stay inside the hotel or walk just a little bit around it. We received food but I rather not recall that: it was dried vegetables in oil and a piece of bread.

Then we had to cut this piece of bread in three parts, one for breakfast, the second for lunch, and the third for dinner. A friend of mine from Zagreb sent me a package with some food; we were allowed to receive one package per month. But even the food she sent me had to be dry so that it could be preserved.
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I don't know how my grandparents met, but after they married, they eventually came to live in Vinkovci, and they stayed there until they were taken to Stara Gradiska [2] in 1942.

My maternal grandparents had five children: my mother, her two sisters and two brothers. The two brothers, Samuel and Dragutin Klein, were taken to Jasenovac [3] in 1942 and murdered. The older one, Samuel, had two sons: Mirko and Vlado.

Vlado died of some illness in Vinkovci before the war, and Mirko was murdered in Jasenovac when he was 15 years old.

The other brother, Dragutin, married a Catholic woman and they had one son, Mirko. Even though Mirko was from a mixed marriage and it was said that children from mixed marriages would be spared, he was nevertheless taken to Jasenovac in 1942 and murdered.
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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 father's brothers were not on the list. I mean the list of those people that were not allowed to leave, or otherwise, they would execute the rest. Since they managed to leave it was for the best. My father didn't tell them anything. Nothing at all. Everyone was free to do as they thought was best. At the time they used to say like they say in French, 'sauve qui peut.' That means: Whoever can, let him be saved.

You have to understand that no one was thinking that they were going to die. They thought that they would take them there and put them in forced labor to work. We would go and buy good hobnailed boots and warm clothes and things like that. People hid the money in the shoes and the belts in order to have money to spend. The Germans had also done the other thing: you would give them drachmas and they would change it to zloti, which was a worthless piece of paper.

My father really appreciated German science, but not the culture. Because we already knew from World War I in France, that they had done a lot. He appreciated the industry and with many suppliers he had excellent relations. He couldn't have imagined that the Germans would get to this point. My father thought it was compulsory to follow the orders of the Germans. He thought that by having a good behavior towards the Germans, their luck might be different from the others. I think that if they had known that they going for certain death, at least half of them would have left.

What I found out is that when they got to Auschwitz, my sister and my father didn't go straight to the ovens [crematoria]. They worked for a while in forced labor. My father lasted three or four months. He, who was used to getting up in the morning and having his shower and go to the office. I can only imagine what he went through. My mother went [to the crematorium] straight away,, and my sister lasted only a very short time.

Olga was the wife of Bernard Landau, who was put in prison by the Germans because they regarded him as a spy. He knew how to speak German better than the Germans. He was an Ashkenazi. In the family they considered him a little bit as an outsider. He left with the last transport to the concentration camps because he worked at the Community. But neither he, nor Olga or his children survived. Only his older daughter, Yvonne, who got married to a Spaniard and got the Spanish citizenship made it. She survived and later went to Palestine.

Rebecca left with her husband and two daughters and went to Auschwitz. My uncle Daniel lived in the ghetto at the time. Nevertheless he managed to get out of the ghetto with his wife and his two children, Nico and Mary. It seems that when the deportations started a number of people left. Only a few though. Roula's mother, who was from Volos, sent someone to take them and bring them to Volos on a boat. Then, when the Italians surrendered, they went up to the mountains of Karditsa.

Daisy's husband thought that it was better to leave and go to Athens. He had friends there. Daisy had no problem to go to Athens because she had married a Christian. They had excluded the ones of mixed marriages, but those were very few.
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Sento's wife remained hidden and didn't turn up when all the Spanish were gathered. She managed to get to Athens and hide there. But she suffered. The Spanish that left from Athens weren't taken to Spain like it had happened with the first deportation. They took them to Bergen-Belsen. So she thought that she would be doing better than her husband and hid on her own but she suffered much more. She did survive though, and so did her two daughters.

Moshe Gattegno was with the Spanish. When the Spanish were liberated from Bergen-Belsen, he got eruptive typhus.

Aunt Lily survived, too. She had gotten married to Mario Modiano who was Italian. When the deportations started, the Italians put all the Italian citizens who were in Thessaloniki on an army train and moved them to Italian land. They didn't let the Germans take them. The Italian embassy helped many people. They gave out many certificates with fake citizenship. If, say, you had a grandfather or an uncle or someone, they would give you a certificate saying that you, too, are Italian. And they would send you on their own army train. So, this way they came to Athens and went into hiding.

When Italy fell and surrendered, Aunt Lily was in hiding in Athens with her two children. Her husband went to the mountains, with the partisans. They helped him to go and hide there with his two brothers and his eldest son, Tori. They didn't fight; they were old then, about fifty years old.

Aunt Ida married a Greek Jew. And they were all deported. She didn't survive.

My mother didn't have Spanish citizenship, because she was married to a Greek. My parents left during the last but one deportation to the camps. While she was at Baron Hirsch, my mother had tried to commit suicide by jumping into a well, but they managed to stop her. We heard of this from others that were there and returned.
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After that the deportations started [78]. They started in February. There many deportations had already been accomplished. Our turn hadn't come yet. My parents were devastated, especially my mother. But unfortunately no one could have imagined what would happen. I was a rebel. I didn't want to accept it. I was saying, 'I will go out and fight, I'm not going to sit here and wait.' I couldn't accept this passive attitude. We can go and throw a bomb and burn the whole Community so they won't have any files, or anything etc. Because they are governing us through the Community, the Community is giving a hand for such a thing to happen! And I said, I would try.
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Krystyna Budnicka

Jewish policemen were given quotas, they had to catch a certain number of people and deliver them to the Umschlagplatz. [Editor's note: The place in the Warsaw Ghetto from which deportations left to extermination camps.] They yelled from the courtyard that they were waiting, that everyone had to come down with provisions for one day and clothes, and that they would be going on a trip. So, after such an announcement, there was a moment of silence, and later a house search would begin in the apartments. There was a padlock hanging outside our door, and it looked like the flat had been closed from the outside. But they would force the padlock open, enter and search. Well, somehow they were never able to find us.
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In 1942, during the Great Action, Boruch had said, 'Little children, where can I hide with such small children? A child will cry, we have nothing to eat.' So it was sort of his own decision, I don't mean that he went voluntarily, but... he didn't fight. It is likely that they were killed during the Great Action. Szaja and his wife were caught during the Great Action, too. They went to Treblinka. And Rafal and his wife were caught. Rafal escaped from the train while being transported to Treblinka, but his wife didn't manage.
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Magdalena Berger

My stepmother and I were deported
to Austria, were we were held in a labor camp. In 1944, while in the camp,
my stepmother gave birth to a baby girl. I was given the honor of naming
the baby and I called her Mira Ruth Grossberger. As an infant she was quite
ill and my stepmother wanted her to have two names to protect her from
death.
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Alexandra Ribush

The Germans arrived in Kislovodsk on 11th August 1942. The first order issued by them was related to Jews: Jews were told to wear yellow stars. The second order said that all food products which had been stolen from the warehouses, were to be returned. At the beginning of September all Jews were ordered to gather at an appointed place at the railroad station. People were allowed to carry 20 kilograms of belongings and food with them. It was announced that everybody would be taken to unsettled areas in Ukraine. When the Germans announced this order we understood that we wouldn't be able to stay with our landlords. Aunt Varvara came and began to persuade Uncle Isaac and Aunt Vera to leave the children with her. They didn't want to do it, since they were really afraid for Varvara, as she could have been executed for that. However, she managed to persuade them.

The adults certainly suspected where they were really going to be taken. I, just a child back then, thought that they would be taken to the ghetto. Although we were just children we heard what the adults talked about and understood perfectly a lot of the things that were happening around us. We grew up at an early age. Of course it was impossible that they would be brought to some unsettled areas in Ukraine. When it was time to take our luggage and go to the appointed place, Inna, Leonid and myself went to Aunt Varvara's instead. All Jews were loaded onto the train, brought to Mineralny Vody and executed there. At first there were only rumors about it, but later on we found out that it was true. Later a monument was erected at that spot.
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Lily Arouch

One day my father received a message from a friend, a doctor, George Karakotsios. It said, 'I am willing to put you and your children up so long as you manage to leave that place.' My father didn't think twice, even though he had to leave behind his old mother, and my mother had to leave her mother and sisters and their families.

On 12th April 1943 I left the ghetto with my two sisters; we stayed alone that night. Before we left my father told me, 'Listen child, you have two younger sisters and you need to take care of them.' We didn't know what was going to happen next. Thankfully my parents came the following night and then the morning after that everyone in the ghetto, where we had also been before, was gathered and taken to the ghetto next to the train station.

From there they were forced into trains and left. My grandmothers and aunties were taken too. We found that out when we were hiding, because we had a Christian friend who would come and tell us some news. We remained hidden in that house for nineteen months, even though the original plan was to move further away from the center. The apartment was very central, it was on 113 Tsimiski Street, on the third floor. It was an apartment with three rooms and the people living in it were the doctor, his wife and their child.

These people saved us, they were very special. He was a known tuberculosis doctor, George Karakotsios. He was the manager of a branch of IKA [social security office] in Thessalonica. His wife was Fedra and they had an eight- year-old boy then.

These people took us in, gave us their room and hid us there for nineteen months. They shared with us the little bread and food they had, and also our fear and frustration. It was a very hard time for us, and for them. We were all very scared. Imagine, we were living in a very small apartment and every sound and every knock on the door was scary for us. My father was hiding in a closet and my mother was hiding under a bed.
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My grandmother Doudoun spent some time in Paris with her son Gastone, and then, before the war, she came to Thessalonica and stayed with her other daughter Laura; unfortunately the Germans took her away. Our family wasn't religious in the strict sense of the word, but they were very traditional: Saturday night was always a celebration; my grandmother Lea always lit the candles, without being too religious though. My grandmother didn't really go to the synagogue.
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Rahela Perisic

War broke out in 1941 and a German unit entered Drvar. Not much time passed
before my father, mother and younger sister Judita, and my younger brother
Moric, who was eleven, were taken to what was called a reception camp in
Bosanski Petrovac by the Ustashe [Before and during WWII Ustashe were an
extreme right wing political and military organization of Croatian
nationalists on the German's side. They ruled Croatia from 1941-1945]. When
this happened I was at my aunt's house. The Ustashe told her that she must
send me to the camp but I did not go and I ran away instead. I hid in
surrounding villages, however in the end I fell into the hands of the
Ustashe and I suffered terribly when they took me to prison. But something
happened to save me. Serbs, who were also mistreated by the Ustashe,
attacked Drvar. I was liberated at that time. I immediately registered to
help at the Drvar hospital. Salomon Levi, who I knew from before, worked
there as a doctor. I contacted him and told him that I wanted to help in
the hospital since before the war I had learned first aid in school. From
that day I became a fighter against fascism.
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jerzy pikielny

I met a friend then, Bialer, who worked with me in the ghetto and was a member of the organization I spoke of. We started to hang out together and we were both 'bought,' to go to the AL Friedland camp [a subcamp of Gross Rosen] [23], where 500 people were transported.
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