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nisim navon

Around 50 Jews came back. The community looked so sad. In the street where
I lived there had been 10 Jewish families, of which only one survived. Nine
families were killed at Bergen-Belsen. I gave an interview in our Bulletin,
with the title "Those Who Are No Longer," about the atmosphere after the
war. As we lost almost everything, we expected help from the Federation of
Jewish Communities in Yugoslavia and from JOINT. And we got help in the
form of clothes in Belgrade and in Pristina as well. I went to the
Federation almost every day. According to the new town development plans,
the synagogue would have had to be demolished, as it was made of faulty
materials. The municipality called me as a member of the community board
and asked me what should be done. I thought that we should renovate the
synagogue, and we did it together with the Federation of Jewish Communities
in Yugoslavia and its representative, who was a lawyer.
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Mico Alvo

When the Germans came to Thessaloniki, a friend of mine, a school friend who used to live nearby, and I thought, just out of curiosity, 'Let's go out and walk to the White Tower to see what is happening.' We would walk as far as we could. The first Germans that came to the White Tower square were some motorcyclists. They had trucks that were following with machines that were printing out the occupation marks [paper money issued by the German authorities]. I think that one mark was fifty drachmas. And when they paid you with this currency, you were obliged to accept it. That's what they called occupation marks. Because they were saying that the country that has been occupied should maintain the armed forces that had come here to protect it. That was the first thing that made an impression on us. I think that they were giving sweets to the children, as propaganda.

When the Germans came in, they started making up orders. They ordered the Jews and afterwards everyone else, to give in all the radios and all the bicycles. They pretended that they needed them. The radios, so we could no longer listen to the news. We were listening to the BBC then. They forced the Sailing Club to turn away all the Jews. From the Marine Club, too. Less from the Marine Club because it was more reserved, but there were many Jews at the Sailing Club. The Germans told them there, 'You will throw them all out.' Alright. Then they went and they seized all the boats.

As soon as the Germans came in, they put signs up in many stores 'Jews are not welcome in this shop.' Mainly in patisseries such as Flocas. Some store owners put them up. It was something that the Germans wished, but not all the store owners put them up. This didn't last very long though. In a month's time they had taken them all down again. They thought that it was compulsory, but when they saw that it wasn't they all took the signs down again.

Two days after the Germans entered, a paper from the 'Kommandantur' [commandant's headquarters] arrives, saying that our house was seized. The Germans had chosen around 50 or 60 houses, the best ones in Thessaloniki, for the officers of the higher division to move there. In many families they occupied one room, where one or two officers would live and one would have to take care of them. Not to feed them, but to keep their rooms clean and tidy. Of course all this for free, nothing in return.

Our house was one of the nice houses. They took it because we were Jews. They told us, 'We give you four hours to empty it, take with you only your personal belongings, nothing else, and leave.' Where furniture or anything heavier was concerned, we couldn't take any of that. My mother went really mad, because for a housewife, the most important thing is her house. She didn't know what to take and what to leave behind. And the poor woman never saw her house again. They turned our house into an officers' club, an officers' mess. Because it was such a nice house, it had a piano, a garden, furniture, everything.
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Rafael Genis

I couldn't stay in the house built on the foundation of our old nest where we had been so happy. The Lithuanian was worried that I would turn her out, but I wasn't going to do that. I went down to the cellar and found apple and other jam, which my mother had made. It was still good. I showed it to the lady, told her to eat it and left.
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Lily Arouch

When we left the house we were hiding in, we only had a little suitcase with very few clothes, and as we had nowhere to go we went to a hotel. We went back to our old house and there was nothing. There were some refugees living there already, the house was empty and there was nothing in it.

My father went and bought five plates and five forks and a couple of knives so we could sit and have something to eat. We stayed in that hotel and then moved to a better one, which was called 'Modern.'

On the second day my father went out to see what was going on in the town. His shop was completely empty, there was nothing left. Everything had been evacuated by the Germans. Our house had been completely emptied of our things, so we really didn't find anything.

Many refugees had come in from the provinces around. While we were hiding the rural areas were severely suffering from the Germans. It was these people that had occupied our apartment. They were moving into any empty house or apartment they found.

My father, probably out of anxiety for the future, or sorrow, or both, went through a paralysis. He was unable to move and so stayed in the hotel room for a while. Everyone said it was psychosomatic stress he was going through. It was probably a combination of the fact that he had been lying down for nineteen months in the house that we were hiding in, and then he suddenly started walking and moving, and the chaotic situation when we came out. We didn't find anything, neither our house nor our furniture nor the shop and its merchandise. Thank God he recovered in the end.

On our return from hiding the reaction of our neighbors was mixed. There were those who were happy to see we had survived and those who had a peculiar attitude saying, 'oh, so you were not taken away, were you?', as if they were happy to have got rid of us.
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Arnold Fabrikant

It happened so that I saw a bomb hitting the house of my future wife Nathalia Yampolskaya on 7 Gogol Street. Her father was at work and she and her mother were visiting their friends who were ill, but her mother's sister Mila and their housemaid were in the apartment at the time and perished. All their belongings were destroyed by fire. Natasha's father worked in the regional health department where they were provided with a few white robes, some hospital sheets and tickets for evacuation since they had nowhere to live.
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jerzy pikielny

When she returned to Lodz, Mom went to our pre-war apartment, but the people who occupied it wouldn't even let her in. Mom filed a lawsuit and sent for me only after getting a court order that she was to get three rooms in the apartment. I came to Lodz sometime in August.
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Renée Molho

I cannot recall how long after this reunion we got married. It was Mrs. Margaritis, the sister of my aunt Mitsa, who was a musician who gave me my wedding dress, which was one of the dresses she was wearing to go to concerts.

The marriage took place at the Monastirioton Synagogue on 17th March 1946. I remember that all the marriage preparations were taken care of by Aunt Mitsa and Uncle Pepo and everything was very fine. And we were very happy. After the marriage, we all went to Aunt Mitsa's house. I don't remember who it was that placed his hand on top of the fireplace with such enthusiasm that the fireplace fell apart.

It is that the same place where we are living today, that was Solon's parents' house. It is here that Solon was born and where he came after he left Victoria's place. In this house, his parents' house, he found other people living: refugees, and, of course, they didn't want to move out. This happened with all the Jewish houses that were left 'empty' during the war. People moved in and after the war it was difficult to force them out. Anyhow, I don't know how Solon got the house back. I think it was with the help of Thomas, the bicycle man, but when we got married it was already available to us. I don't remember if there was any furniture left. All I know is that Solon took good care of it, and even built a fireplace for my sake. He wanted to make me happy.

Our honeymoon was a trip to Athens by boat. We went to Kifissia, a suburb of Athens, and stayed a few days there at a hotel and then came back to Thessaloniki. Upon that we started working and working and doing nothing else but work.

So we were married. He was a bookseller and I tried to make curtains out of an anti-mosquito cloth which I also dyed in a happy color, and hung them on the windows as they were facing the street, and it was the only way to protect our privacy, not allow to see from the outside what was happening inside. All our belongings, things, clothes, etc. were stolen by the man that was supposed to take care of them and it was very difficult for us to manage.
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Solon, of course, had gone to the Greek army; actually he was in the army with Nadir and that's how they became friends. When the Germans arrived he was still serving in the army. I'm not sure where exactly he served, maybe Albania, or actually I think it was in Sidirokastro. From Sidirokastro he returned to Thessaloniki on foot. [Sidirokastro: A fort on the Greek- Bulgarian border. It was attacked by the Germans on 6th April 1941, and was taken three days later.]

He had to present the contents of the cash register he was managing in the army and they, Solon and other soldiers, walked to a port, took a boat that was chased by planes and then walked again in order to make it to Thessaloniki. The cash he was responsible for, was a serious source of anxiety for him, since it didn't belong to him but to the army, and when he managed to pass it to someone else, he left and arrived in Thessaloniki, as a civilian, not a soldier any more.

In the meantime the Germans had arrived in the city. As soon as they arrived, they confiscated the bookshop, threw everybody out without permitting them - owner and staff - to take even their personal belongings, not even their clothes and jackets, and they sent Mair Molho into exile. I don't know where exactly this exile was, maybe the island of Ios [23], but I know that shortly after, he was brought back and forced to sell the whole business to a German collaborator, a bookseller called Vosniadis, for the sum of three golden pounds. This is how the bookshop ownership 'changed.
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When the Italians were defeated by the Greeks, the Germans, who were their allies, came rushing, to solve the problem! To save the face. I have a vague memory of that. I know that we were living at aunt Mitza's house, and the first day the Germans entered Salonica, they confiscated the house. We were all scared, obliged to move out, and find another house very quickly. They came and confiscated the house, I saw them but I didn't see them. I was so afraid. When they confiscated the house, they also confiscated my father's shop, and in exchange, they gave him some kind of a paper - I don't know where it is now - and we never got any kind of compensation for that.

I know that they confiscated all the important Jewish shops; they went to Alvo and emptied everything. He sold baths, and tiles, sanitary supplies and wires. For days German trucks were emptying it.

We moved here, to this neighborhood, just across the street from where we are now. The name of the street was Mizrahi and not Fleming as it is now. It was a big house that we rented, across Solono's house, who I didn't know at the time. Of course there were food rations. We went to the baker and were given a piece of moist 'bobota' [bread made of corn; during World War II it was the only one available and was part of the food ration]. One piece, not one loaf of bread each; the portions we could take were according to the members of the family.

Later on, when we moved into the ghetto with my aunt Rashel and her family we made our own bread. I don't know were we found the flour; it was the boys, Elio and Nadir, who took care of that.

We knew what was going on from the radio. We had an amazing radio and we could hear everything, even Vembo's songs.
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Teofila Silberring

During the war, first the Germans threw them out of their house, because it's a very beautiful house. They took their car, a Steyr. So they, with some cases, as my father-in-law told me, set off towards Lwow [today Ukraine]. In the meantime the Germans forced them into some labor on the way somewhere, but later they made it to Lwow. His mother and the younger brother went back to Bochnia for some winter clothes. They didn't have any warm things, because there had been a heat wave in September. She was crossing the river San in a boat and the boat capsized and she drowned, but Ludwik was rescued and went back to Lwow. After that the Russians deported them out to the Ural Mountains. I can't remember what the place was called.
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When I rang the bell, the one person who let me in was our janitor, 'Toska, are you hungry?' She was still there from before the war, so she knew me. 'Come on, come home!' - and she rang the bell, 'The owner has come back, the owner!' But this man said, 'Well let her go to the devil, there are no owners, get out!' I say, 'Sir, but from the street I can see that our lamps are hanging there. Please give me back those lamps, because I haven't got anything to live on. I'll sell them, please buy them.' Those lamps were nice, these chandeliers. He didn't even open up to me; he snapped through the door. I stood there; the poor janitor cooked me two potatoes. She didn't have a lot herself, but at least she cooked me those potatoes. I ate because I was hungry all the time. No-one here, what was I to do? No money, no-one wanted to let me into my apartment, no-one wanted to give me back my things. What was I to do? Without an education. It was well that I could read and write. At least there was that. No-one would even have taken me on to work, because I couldn't do anything.
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Where my father and brother perished there's no knowing. In the camps. But I was told, I mean from what I found out through the Red Cross and people who had come back, that they both died almost at the end of the war, in 1945. Whether that's true, is hard to say, because there are no witnesses. In any case they didn't come back.

Father had told me where he was leaving what - I even had it written down on a piece of paper - but no-one would give me anything back. They said they didn't have it, that the Germans had taken it off them, or that they'd grown attached to it. The photographs survived because Father had given them to a lady called Wladzia. I don't know how Father knew her, but she used to come to our house, and I looked her up after the war. And she alone gave me everything back. I mean the photographs, Mom's silver powder box, which I have to this day, and a ring. Nothing particularly valuable, but nostalgic. So she alone, the poorest of all of them, gave me everything back.
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bella zeldovich

We couldn't move into our apartment. The house had partly been ruined during the war and some family had repaired it and moved in. There was no way to get it back. Later we received a two-bedroom apartment with a kitchen in the same house where we had lived before the war.
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We returned to Odessa in April 1945, two weeks before the war was over. On 9th May [Victory Day] [19] we heard about the victory on the radio. Everybody was overwhelmed with joy. My father returned home - he was an old man and subject to immediate demobilization.
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ruth laane

When we heard that Estonia was liberated, our family started preparations for returning home. We still had hopes that Uncle Philip would come back. Our landlords wanted to convince us to stay, but we left.

From evacuation we were taken to Kivioli. There were barracks left from a former camp where all those returning from the evacuation were accommodated. This was a quarantine period. To return home we needed a letter of invitation, but there was nobody to send it to us. None of our Estonian kin had survived. My father's parents and their younger children, my father's sister Ella Zlaf and her family were dead. My father's older sister Sophia Karmi and her son and husband, who used to live in Piarnu, were dead. We only have confirmation that she was shot, but there is no archive information about her son and husband.

My grandmother's sister Hansa Kreizburger, her husband Nathan and their sons Isaac and Haim stayed in Ventspils. They perished during the German occupation. My grandmother's brother Nathan Brauns, his wife Yetta and their younger son died in the Riga ghetto [19] during the German occupation of Latvia. Their younger daughter Bertha was in the ghetto and in a few German concentration camps, but she managed to survive. After the war Bertha moved to Israel. She lives in Tel Aviv. She has two sons and grandchildren. She is doing all right. Her brother Samuel died during the war.
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