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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 first of four children. She recalls their poverty; celebrating Jewish holidays in her family's 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 doing agricultural work with her sisters for the Germans; ghettoization in the fall; learning of mass killings from Mordecai Tenanbaum 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 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, including frequent letters from Tenenbaum while living as a Pole; smuggling weapons; finding a hiding place outside the ghetto for Tenenbaum's archives; 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 Gdansk; 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 archives; and return trips to Poland.

K., Bronia, 1923-
Tel Aviv, Israel : Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, 1991
Interview Date
November 21, 1991.
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.
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Record last modified: 2017-01-05 16:54:00
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