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Helena M. Holocaust testimony (HVT-3554)

Oral History | Fortunoff Collection ID: HVT-3554

Videotape testimony of Helena M., who was born in a Polish village in 1923, one of four children. She recounts her family's affluence; their orthodoxy; attending school in Bochnia; working on her family's farm; her father and brothers fleeing east; German invasion; hiding belongings with neighbors; Volksdeutsche evicting them; her father's and one brother's return; their transfer to Bochnia in 1942; escaping deportation (her parents and many other relatives were deported and killed); finding one brother; living in the Bochnia ghetto; forced labor at a sewing factory; hiding in a bunker during an aktion; deportation with her brother to Szebnie; slave labor in the laundry; public hangings and frequent killings; separation from her brother (she never saw him again); transfer to Auschwitz/Birkenau; posing as a non-Jew; the Germans believing her; being tried for being in the area illegally; imprisonment in Oświęcim, then Wadowice; forced labor cleaning the former ghetto; release; traveling to Kraków, then Bochnia; staying with several Polish families, continuing to pose as a Catholic Pole; traveling to Proszowice; working on a farm, then as a maid; liberation by Soviet troops; returning to her village; reunion with her brother who had been in the Soviet Union; marriage in Kraków; living in the Salzburg displaced persons camp; and emigration to Israel. Ms. M. discusses the loss of her entire family, except one brother; pervasive painful memories; not sharing her story; visiting Poland with her daughters; and Poles in her village denying they had stolen her family's property, claiming they purchased it.

M., Helena, 1923-
Tel Aviv, Israel : Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, 1993
Interview Date
July 1 and July 16, 1993.
Bochnia (Poland)
Oświęcim (Poland)
Wadowice (Poland)
Kraków (Poland)
Proszowice (Poland)
2 copies: 3/4 in. dub; and 1/2 in. VHS with time coding.
Cite As
Helena M. Holocaust Testimony (HVT-3554). Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University Library.