79 results

Mico Alvo

My brother went down to Athens to take his exams for the Polytechnic in June 1942. They called us all to gather at Eleutherias Square [70] on 1st or 11th July, I don't remember the exact date. There many things happened... It was the first call for forced labor: to go and be drafted for labor. And the Germans transformed it into a feast. They had people photographing all around the balconies of the buildings that they had occupied. They would make you do gymnastic exercises; they would beat you up, two or three died from the beating. And they also had the women soldiers that were called 'Blitzmädchen.' This is a compound word: 'Mädchen' means lady and 'Blitz' means thunder. When we saw this happening we called my brother and told him, 'Don't come back to Thessaloniki.' And from that time on he stayed in Athens.
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Rafael Genis

We were going towards the Russian border. We were stopped by Lithuanians in Mazeikiai [town in North-West Lithuania, close to the Latvian border]. They had already taken the German side and they were not willing to let us through. Our activists had weapons, they shot a couple of times and the Lithuanians ran away. There was a covering force of Russian Army soldiers [8]. They didn't let any single civilian car, a cart or a pedestrian pass. There were a lot of people. At that time a low-flying German plane started firing at people a couple of times. Many weren't moving. Our car was crushed. The passengers scattered. My sandals were torn so I went barefoot. My feet still remember the hot July asphalt. At that time a military column was passing the border, and I got under the tarpaulin of one of their trucks and went with them. We reached Pskov [town in Western Russia, close to the Latvian border]. I was afraid that they would find me, so I jumped off the truck and sat on the curb.
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Lily Arouch

Of course we were very annoyed with the dictatorship of Metaxas [10]. He had established E.O.N. [11] in which he made very clear and obvious he would not accept Jews. I remember my parents and their friends were very upset. I don't remember any parades.
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tili solomon

Before the Legionaries [12] there were the Cuzists [13], for a shorter period. But it was during that very period that my father was hospitalized for an operation. My mother, who had two little children to take care of, had a hard time. She had to divide her time between going to the hospital and looking after us at home. At that time, the Cuzists saw my mother and, probably knowing she was Jewish, told her something that made her come home very upset.
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Isroel Lempertas

I did not associate state anti-Semitism, commenced with the assassination of the great Jewish actor Mikhoels [26], extermination of Jewish Anti- fascist Committee [27] and ended with the preposterous so-called 'doctors' plot» [28] with Stalin's name. I thought there were the willingness of the local state activists to outdo others in front of all-union dignitaries. I should say that I personally was not touched by anti-Semitistic campaigns. I kept on teaching successfully. Judging by the way tutors and students treated me, I can say I was respected. I took hard Stalin's death in 1953. Gradually I came to understanding his true role and the resolutions adopted at divulging the Party Congress [29] were taken by me as logical and necessary. The truth was revealed. Only now, after perestroika [30] we came to know almost everything about transgressions of the soviet régime and gangster leader Stalin.
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In 1938-39 pro-Nazi public opinion was streamlined in Lithuania. The teacher of arts, a Lithuanian, called upon fascism among youth. I do not know who of them did it, but each morning there were anti-Semitist posters in the lobby of lyceum, namely a Jew with a 'snoot', plaits, distorted appearance and clothes, with a humped back. Those posters were removed, but next morning they appeared again. I know for sure that two guys from that circle shot Jews, including their classmates in 1941 during one of Hitler's actions. There was a very beautiful girl in our class, the daughter of the director of Jewish bank, Kock Glikman. Many guys wooed her, including one of those guys. She did not want to go with him and he shot her with his own hands during one of the actions in 1941. Many people, at least our family, understood, that fascism would bring calamity to our country and many people looked up to USSR. I am not sure if my father knew about political processes and repressions carried out by Stalin in USSR [Great Terror] [13]. He had never talked to me about it.
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Nachman Elencwajg

As for the 1968 events [21], I didn't feel anything on my own skin because I worked at a cooperative that was officially Jewish. So it would have been strange if they fired Jews [for being Jews]. But I remember that at Polmoda, which was a Polish cooperative, they fired even the ordinary tailors.
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Albert Eskenazi

soon as the war began and the independent state of Croatia was
established, the persecution of the Jews began. They expelled us from all
schools and faculties of the university. I remember that the director of my
gymnasium called my mother and, in a very cultured way, he said that he
unfortunately had to inform her that her son could no longer attend school,
that he was very sorry, but that the order came from the government, and he
asked her to please understand. I remember that he said: "There will come a
time when they will be able to go to school again." Clearly, that referred
to only those who survived, because 80 percent did not survive. My sister
almost finished elementary school, but she could not enroll in the

Our community established a Jewish school so that we did not miss out on
our education. This was in Zagreb. The school functioned very well. The
professors were all Jews. There was one for Croatian-Serbian language,
another for mathematics, handiwork, etc. However, since there were waves of
deportations to the camps, every day there was one professor fewer or two
students fewer. They would come to people's houses during the night and
take them away to the camps.

In school, we celebrated Shabbat. We lit candles and sang songs. We did
this until the school lost its sense, once 80 percent of the teachers had
been deported, and maybe there was one left. One day Mikija was not there,
they had taken him; Lee was not there, they had taken her.

My father was taken to Jasenovac on September 19, 1941. First he was taken
to Stara Gradiska and then to Jasenovac. It is hard to know what was worse,
to be in Stara Gradiska or Jasenovac - the camps were even connected. We
stayed in Zagreb, and no one touched us. They took the Jews in two ways,
sometimes the whole family and sometimes just the head of the family. When
they took my father, they took only the men. However, two months later,
they came after the women and children as well. We were not at home. I
remember the details. We heard that the next day they were going to deport
all the Jews whose last name began with K. We had relatives named Kon. That
morning my mother went with us to the Kons, who did not live far from us,
to tell them what we had heard and to hide. My mother drank coffee with
them, then we went back to our apartment where our neighbor told us: "Mrs.
Eskenazi, run away; they are looking for you. Hide until this passes." We
hid for a few days with relatives, he was a Jew and she was a Catholic and
was in some way protected. Afterward, we hid with a Croatian family we knew
from when we had lived on Sava Road. Then we hid with a Moslem waiter who
knew my father. My father had gone to a café where he worked; his name was
Fajko. He hid us with his wife. At some point my mother lost her nerves and
patience and said: "No one is going to hide us any longer. We are going
home and whatever is the fate of the others will be our fate as well.
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Matilda Cerge

The people in the school didn't know about us. Imagine this: the priest asked the school director to accept us in the school. We had no documents because I told you that Mother packed up all our documents. We had nothing. No documents or diplomas with which to prove that we had been in school. The director accepted us and only he knew we didn't have documents. The priest brought us there. He accepted us on his personal responsibility.
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This was in 1942. It was the last transport of Jews from Belgrade. I don't remember when I saw Father the last time at home before Mother took us away. [Editor's note: By the end of May 1942 the last phase of the 'removal' of Jews was completed. In a correspondence from 29th August 1942 a German officer boasted: 'The Jewish question as well as the Gypsy question are totally liquidated. Serbia is the only country in which the Jewish and Gypsy question have been solved.
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[In Banovo Brdo] she begged a catholic priest, Andrej Tumpej, [to take us in]. [Editor's note: Father Tumpej was born on 29th November 1886 in Saint Lavranac, Slovenia. From 1941 to 1945 he was a priest in St. Cyril and St. Methodius parish in Banovo Brdo in Belgrade. He died in Belgrade on 5th March 1973 and is buried in the Topcider cemetery in Belgrade.] She probably went there because she was Slovenian and thought that they would [help her].

I don't know if she knew [this priest and] these nuns before. Before we left the house, Mother took all of the documents, that is the birth certificates, deeds, marriage certificates and wrapped them up [and hid them].

We didn't have anything with us which could connect us to a Jewish family. [Father Tumpej] gave us fake documents as the out of wedlock children of Antonija [Ograjensek], so that we would have some documents. My false name was Lidija Ograjensek and my sister's was Breda Ograjensek; her birth name was Rahela.

Next to the church there was an apartment where these nuns lived. We got two beds in a room and were there for three months. Just my sister and I. They took us in and then we couldn't go anywhere. We were with the nuns for three months. We didn't leave there: we slept, ate, etc. When we were with the nuns we were the only children hiding there.

They were polite to us, very polite. And most importantly, they were thrilled because we knew the Old Testament. As Jews we learned the Old Testament. There was no pressure. I went to visit them after the war. They were up there in the railway hospital where they worked. The priest was very sick so I went to visit him.
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They took away some of my relatives before they came to us and told us to leave: for instance, David and Mile Kalef, grandmother's brother's sons. We lived in number three and they lived in number five. David and Mile Kalef were picked up for these actions to clean the destruction from the bombing of Belgrade on 6th April.

At one point they came home and then after that they never appeared again. I don't know what they talked about when they came home. We were already hidden. Mother told us that for some time they still came. David and Mile's mother, Lenka Kalef, poor woman, even went to the construction sites where they were cleaning and sometimes brought them some food to eat, until they took her away too.

The two of us were small and didn't get our yellow stars, but all the others had to wear them. It was a yellow band around the arm. Mother didn't wear one but Father and Grandmother and the rest did. I don't know why Mother didn't wear one.

[Editor's note: Jews were ordered to register on 19th April 1941 at the command center at Tasmajdan Park. At the time of registration yellow armbands with the word JUDE printed in black letters and under it JEVREJIN in Cyrillic were distributed.

Somewhere between the two was a Star of David. The armbands were made from material taken from Jewish textile stores. They were made from anything from cotton to silk and came in a variety of shades of yellow. Later on the Germans decided the armbands were not enough and added yellow badges. Source: Zeni Lebl]

[One day] a German officer came to our house and told us that the apartment needed to be emptied and everyone needed to get out. This was in 1940 or 1941. When the German came it was part of an action. They went from house to house saying, 'Out, this and that, you must get out, etc.'

I don't remember when they came to the house. I don't know where my sister was at the time. We had seen [this German] on the street but never had this kind of direct contact with him, to imperil you in your own house.

My father, who spoke excellent German, began to complain. This German took out his revolver and he wanted to shoot at him. I was horrified. I was paralyzed from fear, and then my mother began to beg. She said that he was sick and she calmed the German down and that's why he didn't kill him. But he said that we had to get out of our apartment because we had all been expelled.

My mother, completely beside herself, took us to Banovo Brdo, first to one of her brothers who lived there. My uncle helped us a little when he could, but he moved very early on. And they didn't have what to live of either. [I don't know if she moved us the same day as the German appeared or if it was later.]

In general she quickly hid us because they had to go. Mother packed things for us. [She packed] those things that were easiest for us to take. Everything else stayed in the apartment. I don't remember how we got there: by tram, or walking. It was probably by tram or some public transport.
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The Germans sealed off our store, with one of those seals, as Jewish property, they stamped it and then they took everything.

We went to school until it was forbidden for all Jewish kids to go to school. [Editor's note: Already in August 1940 there were signs that Jewish students were being denied enrollment in schools and expelled. On 5th October 1940 the Numerus Clausus was passed in Yugoslavia and with it the first formal restrictions on education for Jews.]

That was terrible, very unpleasant. I don't remember how they informed us of this or when. Jews were forbidden to appear in public places, they weren't allowed to work in public institutions or go to school.

For instance, my mother told Grandmother's sister's son, Isak - we called him Red Isak [because he was a red head] - Isak Koen was his name, 'Isace, you are healthy, innocent, join the Partisans. Run to the forest to save yourself. I will help you.

I will go with you to Avala [A 511 meter peak, 18 km south of Belgrade], and you flee to the forest, so that you can save yourself.' The other young people had been taken away for work. And Mother helped him get to the forest. But instead of going further, imagine, he came back. In the end they caught him. None of them were saved.

My mother's brother [Rudolf] learned that Belgrade was going to be bombed and the day before [6th April 1941] [8] he took my sister, mother and me, along with his wife and his daughter, in a car to Umcare, a village near Belgrade. Grandmother and Father were left behind in Belgrade during the bombings. Father was in a wheelchair and Grandmother old, and they couldn't go with us.

The car that picked us up was a state-owned car because Rudolf worked in a state hospital while he was in Belgrade. We stayed with some man in a house there for a few days. After the bombing they immediately moved us [my sister and I] to my uncle's apartment in Banovo Brdo [a neighborhood on the outskirts of Belgrade].

In front of our apartment on Gospodar Jovanova there was a 100-kilogram unexploded bomb and a big crater. The whole house was crumbling. Father and grandmother were sitting in the house unable to help themselves. Mother left us up there [in Banovo Brdo] and then went to see what was happening with Father and Grandmother.

Then she would take us to visit Father and Grandmother for a few days. [It was during one such visit] that the German came and told us, 'Jews out!' So from the bombing [of Belgrade] until the time when the German came to evict us, we were mostly in Banovo Brdo with my uncle. Before they took Father and Grandmother, when people started to get the armbands, Mother asked the nuns to take us in, and we stayed there for three months.
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Gracia Albuhaire

We were wearing our yellow stars, of course. Sometimes branniks and legionaries [see Bulgarian Legions] [11] made fun of us. We were pretty girls, and they, pretending that they were making passes at us, were actually poking fun at us as Jewish girls. Otherwise I didn't have any problems in my class, nobody maltreated me there.
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Medicine, doctors - all these things were a luxury! There was no cinema, no theater. We were so isolated that in the end it was like in a ghetto. Sometimes branniks [10] came, breaking the windows, damaging the doors, especially the hakham's house, on which swastikas were drawn.
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