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Yaffa U. Holocaust testimony (HVT-3816)

Oral History | Fortunoff Collection ID: HVT-3816

Videotape testimony of Yaffa U., who was born in Švenčionys, Poland (presently Lithuania) in 1927, the youngest of three children. She recalls her large, extended family; their affluence; Soviet occupation in 1939; confiscation of their land and houses; her brother and sister leaving; German invasion in June 1941; Lithuanians taking her father (she never saw him again); giving their valuables to non-Jewish neighbors; forced labor in Polygon; living with her extended family; her uncle bribing a Lithuanian for their release (her mother remained and she never saw her again); returning to Švenčionys; living with her uncle in the ghetto; obtaining food and their valuables from her non-Jewish neighbors; hiding with non-Jews during round-ups; working in German offices; stealing papers for the Judenrat to save other Jews; slave labor in several locations; learning of the mass killings at Polygon; being smuggled to her uncle in the Vilna ghetto, with help from non-Jews; hiding partisans in her workplace; escaping from the ghetto with her relatives; hiding in the attic of non-Jews for a month; unsuccessful attempts to smuggle themselves into a labor camp; arrest; rescue by a friend posing as a non-Jew; slave labor in Keilis; harsh conditions; transfer to Kaiserwald, then Stutthof; a friend giving birth; a death march; sharing food obtained from locals with her friends; liberation by Soviet troops in March 1944; Soviets raping German women; a Soviet officer befriending her; his arrest for expressing his wish to emigrate to Palestine; traveling to Łódź, intending to return to Švenčionys; arrival of the Soviet officer (he had escaped); traveling with him to Italy via Budapest, with help from the Jewish Brigade; marriage to the Soviet officer; their daughter's birth in 1945; illegal immigration to Palestine in July 1947 from Bologna; incarceration by the British in Cyprus; assistance from UNRRA; transfer to Palestine; reunion with her husband's brother; her husband losing a leg in the 1948 war; arrival of her brother and sister; the births of two more children; her husband's death in 1987; and four trips to Švenčionys. Ms. U. notes she was emotionally broken by her experiences, and her satisfaction from her children and grandchildren. She shows photographs.

U., Yaffa, 1927-
Tel Aviv, Israel : Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, 1995 and 1996
Interview Date
December 8, December 12, 1995, and January 11, January 12, January 18, January 19, 1996.
2 copies: 3/4 in. dub; and 1/2 in. VHS with time coding.
Cite As
Yaffa U. Holocaust Testimony (HVT-3816). Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University Library.