Advanced Search

Learn About The Holocaust

Special Collections

My Saved Research




Skip to main content

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.
Turka (Lʹvivsʹka oblastʹ, Ukraine)
Uz︠h︡horod (Ukraine)
Lʹviv (Ukraine)
Budapest (Hungary)
Lüneburg (Germany)
Metaponto (Italy)
Rome (Italy)
Bari (Italy)
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.
View in Yale University Library Catalog:
Record last modified: 2018-05-29 11:47:00
This page: