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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.
Švenčionys (Lithuania)
Łódź (Poland)
Budapest (Hungary)
Genoa (Italy)
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.