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Bronia K. Holocaust testimony (HVT-3242)

Oral History | Fortunoff Collection ID: HVT-3242

Videotape testimony of Bronia K., who was born in Grodno, Poland (presently Hrodna, Belarus) in 1923, the eldest of four children. She recalls her family's poverty; celebrating Jewish holidays in their secular home; attending a Jewish pre-school, a public school, a Yiddish school for a year in 1933, then gymnasium; studying violin; participating in Zionist youth groups; committing to Deror; a local pogrom; Soviet occupation in 1939; destruction of their home during the June 1941 German invasion; fleeing to a nearby village for a week; obtaining food by doing agricultural work with her sisters for the Germans; ghettoization in the fall; learning of mass killings from Mordecai Tenenbaum, who had escaped from Vilnius; Deror becoming a resistance unit; being sent to an organizing meeting in the Białystok ghetto because she looked Polish; returning home; being sent to another meeting in Białystok in spring 1942 (she never saw her family again); recruiting resistance support in the Dąbrowa Górnicza, Suchowola, and Jasionówka ghettos; living in a kibbutz in the Białystok ghetto; forced labor in a German uniform factory; sabotaging the work; singing Yiddish translations of Italian operas during work breaks; illness from malnutrition; Tenenbaum obtaining medical care for her; being given false papers in December 1942 to serve as a resistance courier; and traveling often to Warsaw.

Ms. K. recounts living outside the ghetto; working as a maid to German railroad conductors; contact with the ghetto while living as a Pole, including frequent letters from Tenenbaum; smuggling weapons; finding a hiding place outside the ghetto for Tenenbaum's archive; five Jewish women joining her, including Haika Grossman; continuing to smuggle herself into the ghetto; observing public hangings; the ghetto uprising and liquidation; helping others escape; bringing weapons to partisans in the forest; the deaths of several of her friends in hiding; remaining at her job to allay suspicions; translating for Soviet partisan negotiations with Armia Krajowa, who refused to let Jews join them; liberation by Soviet troops in summer 1944; unsuccessful efforts to locate Tenenbaum's archive; meeting her future husband; her job as Director of Arts and Culture (no one knew she was Jewish); a trip to Lublin; hearing many Poles rue the return of Jews; being sent to Warsaw to relate the Białystok ghetto history to Jewish leaders; learning of camp experiences from returning survivors; organizing a kibbutz in Gdańsk; observing terrible conditions for Jews in displaced persons camps in Munich; her future husband's illness; being smuggled to Geneva with him in summer 1946; his eventual recovery; training as a translator; their emigration to Israel; and working for Yad Vashem starting in the mid-1950s. Ms. K. discusses many people, episodes, and conflicts among Zionist and resistance groups; the recovery of Tenenbaum's archive; and return trips to Poland.

K., Bronia, 1923-
Tel Aviv, Israel : Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, 1991
Interview Date
November 21, 1991 and other dates.
Hrodna (Belarus)
Warsaw (Poland)
Białystok (Poland)
Dąbrowa Górnicza (Poland)
Suchowola (Poland)
Jasionówka (Poland)
Lublin (Poland)
Geneva (Switzerland)
Gdańsk (Poland)
Munich (Germany)
2 copies: 3/4 in. master; and 1/2 in. VHS with time coding.
Cite As
Bronia K. Holocaust Testimony (HVT-3242). Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University Library.
View in Yale University Library Catalog:
Record last modified: 2018-06-04 13:26:00
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