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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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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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mario modiano

The next trauma came when the German military came to the house to question Father. There were three of them. The officer took my father into the dining room and questioned him. The other two went through Father's library. They took all the books we had and placed them in two large wooden crates. They came the next day and took them away. Many years later I was given the copy of an SS order based on information they had received before the war from agents in Salonica listing important Jews in Salonica. Father's name was second after that of the chief rabbi, Zvi Koretz.

As I said, Father had had to take the Greek nationality because of the 1933 law. So, when the racial laws came into force in Salonica, unlike the other Modianos who as Italian nationals were exempt, we were forced to abandon our home and go and live in one of the two 'ghettos' where the Germans confined the Greek Jews [see Salonica Ghettos] [6]. So we went and lived in the apartment of one of Father's fellow-journalists in Analipsi [name derived from the church's name, which means Ascension, in an area outside the old city of Salonica.]. We weren't allowed to go outside the boundaries of the ghetto, or to use any means of transportation, or telephones. We stayed there for about three months. I have here a picture of myself aged 16 reading Nea Evropi [7], the pro-Nazi paper, on the back balcony of the house in the ghetto.

One night my father's colleagues, the Greek journalists of Salonica, came to see him. They told him, '...don't be stupid, go to the Italian consulate and ask them to restore your Italian nationality...' Indeed he went and got his Italian nationality back. The Consul then recruited him to help the Italians with a plan to get all the families in which the wife had been Italian before marrying a Greek Jew, out of the Baron Hirsch camp [8] before they were deported. So they managed to get 138 families out. Then they sent Father to Athens, which was under Italian control, to secure housing for all the Italian Jews that would come from Salonica.
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Lelo was in a sense guarding our newspaper offices after the Germans occupied Salonica. One night a German officer and some soldiers came in. The officer told him, 'Take my advice: get your hat and get out of here. We are taking over.' This was the end of Father's newspaper. The Germans used the facilities to print their army newspaper.
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danuta mniewska

My husband also had a house in Czestochowa that he inherited after his parents, on Druga Aleja [part of Czestochowa's most elegant street, Aleja Najswietszej Marii Panny]. There we lived in three rooms with my sister.
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anna schwartzman

My building in Kishinev was still standing, but in order to move in I had to prove through the courts that I had lived there before the war. Neighbors offered to give evidence to that effect but demanded money in return. We didn't have any and agreed to go to Chernovtsy.
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Halina Leszczynska

In 1946 everything had been looted. You could still find a table, a cupboard or a chair somewhere.
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Daniel Bertram

In January 1947 I moved into a little room on my own. There were a few houses like ours [shelters for Jews]. After the war whole families lived in them for quite some time, each family in a separate room.
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Leon Glazer

Then, in March 1945, I went to our old apartment on Wyzwolenia Square. I went to show my face, that I was there, that I was alive. Some German opened the door and I asked him if he knew my family. He did know them, indeed; when he saw how I was dressed he took pity and gave me a coat, a trench coat. I wore it when they called me up into the army a month later, but it got left behind somewhere later on, on the way. I know that that German was resettled out of Bielsko, or he left himself, I don't remember, but I think they resettled him.
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