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Helena H. Holocaust testimony (HVT-3248) interviewed by Anita Tarsi and Roni Stauber

Oral History | Fortunoff Collection ID: HVT-3248

Videotape testimony of Helena H., who was born in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy (presently Ukraine) in approximately 1918, one of six children. She recounts she and her sister living with a family in Turka to learn violin and attend school; participating in Hashomer Hatzair; attending a Zionist conference in Uz︠h︡horod; obtaining a visa to the United States in Lʹviv in 1939; Soviet occupation; joining her family in Turka; marriage to a physician; German invasion; Ukrainian violence against Jews; finding her cousin's body; round-ups and mass killings; her son's birth; hiding with a non-Jewish patient of her husband; arrest, interrogation and beating; a Nazi, another former patient, releasing her; vainly seeking someone to take her son in Lʹviv; deportation of her mother and three sisters; her father and siblings illegally entering Hungary; following them with her husband and son; a farmer offering to take her son to relatives in Mukachevo (she never saw him again); traveling to Budapest; and voluntarily entering a camp.
Ms. H. tells of separation from her husband; being removed from a train transport; transfer to Ricse; obtaining privileged kitchen work with assistance from a friend; her husband's transfer to Ricse; learning her father and sisters had been killed; transfer to another camp; escaping from a transport; capture; deportation to Auschwitz/Birkenau in April 1944; observing Josef Mengele select twins; destroying some of the property of the dead she was sorting for German use; taking paper to write poetry; passing information to the Polish underground; public hangings; a death march to Bergen-Belsen (she took her poems and other evidence); contracting typhus; liberation by British troops; living in the refugee camp; testifying at the Lüneburg war crime trials of Irma Grese, Dr. Fritz Klein, Josef Kramer, and Franz Hössler; reunion with her husband in Rome; emigration to Palestine via Bari and Metaponto; interdiction by the British; incarceration in Cyprus; her daughter's birth; release; and her son's birth. Ms. H. discusses the social hierarchy in camps; her state of mind; not discussing her experiences due to Israeli public opinion making her feel ashamed of being a survivor; sharing some of her experiences with her son's class; never feeling certain that her first son was dead; and only telling her children about him when they were older.

H., Helena, 1918?-
Tel Aviv, Israel : Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, 1991
Interview Date
January 8, March 12, March 26, April 21, and July 13, 1991.
2 copies: 3/4 in. dub; and 1/2 in. VHS with time coding.
Cite As
Helena H. Holocaust Testimony (HVT-3248). Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University Library.
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Record last modified: 2014-05-29 16:17:00
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