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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 Bieberstein; 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.
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.