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Rita W. Holocaust testimony (HVT-3542)

Oral History | Digitized | Fortunoff Collection ID: HVT-3542

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    Videotape testimony of Rita W., who was born in Dămăcușeni, Romania in 1926, one of seven children from her father's second marriage (his first wife, with whom he had five children, died in childbirth). She recounts her father's leadership of the Jewish community; his beating by Nazi sympathizers; Hungarian occupation in 1940; draft of her sisters' husbands into slave labor battalions; moving to a married sister's home in Reghin to assist with her business and family; German occupation in spring 1944; ghettoization with her sister and her children; deportation to Birkenau; separation from her sister (she and her children were killed); her sense of isolation among thousands of people; transfer to a camp in Lithuania a few days later; slave labor repairing German uniforms; decent treatment by the German camp commander; crying constantly; three sisters befriending her; a group of about thirty caring for each other; the religious women praying and informing them of holidays; her continuing belief that God would save them; transfer to Stutthof; public hangings; discussing food and recipes when not working; praying often; and fasting on Yom Kippur.

    Ms. W. describes women giving birth (their babies were taken away); placement in a sick barrack; returning to her block; unknowingly eating soup with human flesh (she could not eat meat for years after); a death march, then boat transfer; liberation by British troops on May 3, 1945 in Neustadt in Holstein; hospitalization; losing her belief in God after learning of the mass killings; discarding food in front of captured Germans as a form of revenge; traveling to Bergen-Belsen, then Feldafing displaced persons camps; assistance from UNRRA, the Red Cross, and the Joint; traveling to Budapest; learning a brother-in-law had survived; reunion with the three sisters with whom she had been in camps; marriage to their brother in December 1945; the sisters leaving to emigrate to Palestine; learning the youngest sister was sick in Rome; traveling to Linz, Funk Kasserne, and Pocking displaced persons camps, then Rome, with assistance from Beriḥah; kind treatment by Italians; the sister's death; Ms. W.'s husband working with Beriḥah smuggling Jews to Italy for emigration to Palestine; their emigration in 1947; and fighting in the Israel-Arab War. Ms. W. discusses negative perceptions and treatment of survivors in Israel; not discussing her experiences; and frequent nightmares.
    W., Rita, 1926-
    Tel Aviv, Israel : Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, 1993
    Interview Date
    April 30, May 7, May 16, May 21, and June 4, 1993.
    Dămăcușeni (Romania)
    Reghin (Romania)
    Neustadt in Holstein (Germany)
    Budapest (Hungary)
    Rome (Italy)
    Cite As
    Rita W. Holocaust Testimony (HVT-3542). Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University Library.
    This testimony is in Hebrew.

    Physical Details

    2 copies: 3/4 in. dub; and 1/2 in. VHS with time coding.
    Physical Description
    5 videorecordings (15 hr., 40 min.) : col

    Keywords & Subjects

    Subjects (Local Yale)
    Child survivors.
    Antisemitism Prewar.
    Hungarian occupation.
    Mutual aid.
    Childbirth in concentration camps.
    Postwar experiences.
    Postwar effects.
    Holocaust survivors. Video tapes. Women. Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Personal narratives. World War, 1939-1945--Personal narratives, Jewish. World War, 1939-1945--Children. Jewish children in the Holocaust. Jewish ghettos. Jews--Romania--Reghin. Forced labor. Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Psychological aspects. Concentration camp inmates--Family relationships. Concentration camp inmates--Religious life. Faith. World War, 1939-1945--Atrocities. Cannibalism. Nightmares. Revenge. Refugee camps. Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Public opinion. Public opinion--Israel. Israel-Arab War, 1948-1949. Romania. Dămăcușeni (Romania) Reghin (Romania) Neustadt in Holstein (Germany) Budapest (Hungary) Rome (Italy) Oral histories (document genres) W., Rita,--1926- Birkenau (Concentration camp) Stutthof (Concentration camp) DP-Camp Bergen-Belsen. American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Beriḥah (Organization)

    Administrative Notes

    Link to Yale University Library Catalog:
    Record last modified:
    2018-05-29 11:59:00
    This page:

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