Avraham T. Holocaust testimony (HVT-3332) interviewed by Nathan Beyrak and Rachel Jadaio
Videotape testimony of Avraham T., who was born in Lazdijai, Russia (presently Lithuania) in 1909, one of six children. He recalls attending cheder; his family's expulsion during World War I; their return; attending Hebrew high school in Marijampolė; participating in Maccabi; leading the Lithuanian team in the 1932 Tel Aviv Makabiyah; attending the University of Pittsburgh; his father's death; returning home; completing law school in Kaunas; antisemitic harassment by university officials; marriage in 1935; attending the 1939 Zionist Congress in Geneva; Soviet occupation in June 1940; working as the administrator of a military construction project, then for an accountant; fleeing to Vilnius, fearing deportation to Siberia; returning to Kaunas; German invasion; briefly fleeing east; being warned of massacres upon his return; reunion with his wife; paying a Lithuanian to retrieve his family in Lazdijai (they refused); ghettoization; working for the Judenrat, often with the head, Elkhanan Elkes, his assistant Leib Garfunkel, and the German official, Wilhelm Göcke; keeping a clandestine diary; obtaining food from a Lithuanian friend; round-ups and mass killings of thousands; obtaining supplies for a children's Purim play; transformation of the ghetto into a concentration camp; forming a Zionist resistance group with support from Elkes and others; obtaining weapons; organizing military training; Irena Adamowicz, a Polish underground courier, bringing information about other ghettos, uprisings, and partisans; and the capture and killing of Chaim Yellin, a resistance leader.
Mr. T. recounts his wife's refusal to leave the ghetto; their divorce (she did not survive); arranging with a priest for the escape of a friend (his future wife) and her daughter to a remote farm; obtaining false papers; Elkes giving him his will; escaping to hide on the same farm; rewriting his diary, fearing the original would not survive; liberation by Soviet troops; their return to Kaunas; marriage; recovering his hidden diary; interrogation by the NKVD; moving to Vilnius, then Poland; reunion with Zionist leaders in Lublin; traveling illegally with his wife and her daughter to Bucharest using false papers, then two months later to Rome; assistance from UNRRA and the Joint; traveling many places to organize illegal emigration to Palestine; his wife and step daughter moving to the Cinecittà refugee camp; joining them; the birth of a daughter; continuing to travel to organize illegal emigration; founding Maccabi groups in refugee camps; conflicts between Zionist groups; emigration with his family to Palestine in 1947; working as a lawyer; and testifying at the war crimes trials of Heinrich Schmitz in Wiesbaden, Kazimieras Palčiauskas in Florida, and Helmet Rauca in Canada. Mr. T. discusses many details of life in the ghetto, hiding, the postwar period, and publication of his diary, naming many of those involved.
- Tel Aviv, Israel : Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, 1992
- Interview Date
- February 20, 28, March 6, April 10, May 4, 22, and 28, 1992.
Tel Aviv (Israel)
- 2 copies: 3/4 in. master; and 1/2 in. VHS with time coding.
- Cite As
- Avraham T. Holocaust Testimony (HVT-3332). Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University Library.