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elvira kohn

I lived with my mother until her death in 1977. The two of us were very close, and it was difficult for me when she died. I was left alone; I had no relatives, no family of my own. I was also in a dilemma as to how to bury my mother. It was a very difficult decision for me to make.

Many JNA officials and my co-workers came to my mother's funeral. Some gave a speech. I couldn't have a rabbi bury her in front of the party members. And I couldn't have the party members speak in front of a rabbi. The two don't go together. So at last I decided not to have a rabbi at the funeral. It wasn't easy, but there was no other choice. I wasn't allowed to have a Jewish funeral for my mother.

But I did something else. I arranged with the community that for the whole first month after my mother's death, the Kaddish was recited for her every Friday and Saturday. That was something I could do. Even though all the officials knew that I was Jewish, and that my mother was Jewish, I couldn't have both, the Party and the rabbi, at the funeral. And even though I had been retired since 1964, and my mother died in 1977, I was still in the same circle of people, shared the same spirit, and thus wasn't allowed to. That was the spirit of the time.
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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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baby pisetskaya

In late 1941 he and my father went to the front. Foma perished in 1942 and my father saw him dying.
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Israel went to the front and in 1943 his family received the notification of his death.
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Minia, her husband and their three children Motl, Favel and Chovele were killed by fascists in Odessa in 1941, during the Great Patriotic War [1].
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Jankiel Kulawiec

Of all my family not many people survived the Holocaust. Mama, Dad and my brothers and sisters, they all perished there in Pleshchenitsa [now Belarus]. One of the Mokobocki brothers went back there after the war and found out that there had been a mass execution by the Germans in the old cemetery, and thousands of people had died, among them my parents and brothers and sisters [probably in 1942].

From the Mokobocki family the three brothers who fled with me survived. I found them again at the beginning of the 1960s - it turned out that Josef, the eldest, lives in Brest, and Borys and Jankiel and their families in the Urals. None of the three of them wanted to come back to Poland; I didn't ask why. Aunt Chana, the wife of my father's brother Uncle Jankiel, survived too, with her children. After the war she married again and moved to Walbrzych [Poland], and shortly afterwards she and her family emigrated to Israel.
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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

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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Rafael Genis

According to the law on restitution we were given back the former premises of the prewar Jewish community. I sold that house and used the money to help poor Jews. Actually, the community is based in my house. I am the bookkeeper. I distribute the sponsors' aid coming from the Joint [18]. We celebrate Sabbath and Jewish holidays. I fulfilled my task: I put the monuments to the perished Jews on the places of their execution. I mostly used my savings for that as well as the money from the sponsors, collected by the relatives of the perished.
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Even though I was almost blind, I worked for many years. I retired in the early 1990s. Though since 1945 I have been getting a pension for the disabled, it is miserable. All those years my wife and I had been going to the places where Jews were executed to commemorate them. I thought of how to mark those places and put the monuments there. Besides, I couldn't feel indifferent towards those Jews, who survived the war, and now are scraping through. I decided to found a Jewish community in Telsiai and went to Vilnius to see the chairman of the United Jewish community of Lithuania, Alperavichus. He supported me. The community was founded in 1993 with me as a chairman.
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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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There were about 14 places out of town where Jews were executed. I don't know exactly where my kin perished. Father's sisters Chaya Riva and Channa also perished. And my brother Dovid, who was studying at Telsiai yeshivah, was shot in Rainai along with 300 rabbis. My mother and sister Tsilya lived a bit longer. One lady, who crept out from the pile of corpses told me about it later. They were in the ghetto in Telsiai. Lithuanians often went there to hire people. One of them wanted to take Tsilya and save her that way, but my sister clung on to my mother and didn't agree to part with her. Then a furious Fascist shot both Tsilya and my mother.
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On the day when the war broke out, my brother Liber and his wife Ida with their baby daughter - about two months old - came to see my parents. The lady said that she noticed the tail of the column, where Liber and Ida with the stroller, were walking. The Fascists took the stroller away and it was rolling on the curb. My brother darted after the stroller and the German shot him right away, then they shot the baby.
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I couldn't recognize my town, as all buildings were burnt down, including our house. A Lithuanian lady had used the foundation of our house to build her own there. I went in. We had a long conversation. She told me about the execution of local Jews, about the deaths of my kin. As it turned out my parents and Grandpa Nakhman were denounced by the neighbors. They were those Lithuanian guys, who were my friends, who came to our house. All my kin, Grandpa Nakhman, Father, Liber with his family and Isroel, were shot in the first days of the occupation of Telsiai.
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