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Hela R. Holocaust testimony (HVT-1822) interviewed by Yoram Amit and Chaya Mʻeiri,

Oral History | Fortunoff Collection ID: HVT-1822

Videotape testimony of Hela R., who was born in Kraków, Poland in approximately 1921, one of five children. She recounts her father living in Berlin; her mother running a business; her death in childbirth; her father's return; living with her maternal grandparents; attending a Polish school; studying with Marek Biberstein; working as a clerk; active participation in Akiba; German invasion; traveling as a non-Jew to visit her father in Sanok, smuggle children to Tarnów, and visit Warsaw; smuggling into and out of the ghettos in Warsaw and Kraków, acting as a courier for Zionist movements; living in a “kibbutz” in the Warsaw ghetto; hiding during round-ups; obtaining false papers; frequently traveling between ghettos as a courier, carrying false papers, money and arms; convincing police she was not Jewish after a three-day interrogation; coordinating with the Polska Partia Robotnicza (PPR, a Polish resistance group); being sent to Rzeszów to coordinate resistance; assistance from a Polish woman; traveling to Lʹviv; learning her father and siblings had been killed in Bełżec; severing the relationship with the PPR due to lack of trust; arrest; being shot in the leg when escaping; recuperating in the Warsaw ghetto; hiding in bunkers and attics during the uprising; Mordechai Anielewicz asking her to carry messages to those outside the ghetto; being smuggled out with assistance from Polish police; hiding with others; obtaining false papers; surrendering at the Hotel Polski based on rumors they would be safe; deportation to Bergen-Belsen; her group's isolation from the rest of the camp; assignment to a transport; trading identificaion documents with a girl who wanted to leave with her family (learning later the entire transport was killed); the prisoner organization; deteriorating conditions in 1944; the arrival of many prisoners in very bad condition; placement on a transport in spring 1945; abandonment by the guards; liberation by United States troops; living in a displaced persons camp; traveling to Rattendaal, Belgium with a group of children; emigration to Israel shortly thereafter; and the births of three children and her grandchildren. Ms. R. discusses details of many events in hiding and the resistance and names many of the people involved; making new friends in Bergen-Belsen to compensate for her feelings of having lost everything and everyone; her sense of emptiness at liberation; and her compulsion to share her experiences after arriving to Israel.

R., Hela, 1921?-
Ramat Aviv, Israel : Beth Hatefutsoth, Nahum Goldman Museum of the Jewish Diaspora, 1986 and 1987
Interview Date
June 6, July 24, and December 25, 1986 and March 26, May 26, 1987.
Kraków (Poland)
Sanok (Poland)
Warsaw (Poland)
Tarnów (Województwo Małopolskie, Poland)
Rzeszów (Poland)
Lʹviv (Ukraine)
Rattendaal (Belgium)
4 copies: 3/4 in. dub; Betacam SP restoration master; Betacam SP restoration submaster; and 1/2 in. VHS with time coding.
Cite As
Hela R. Holocaust Testimony (HVT-1822). Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University Library.