Advanced Search

Learn About The Holocaust

Special Collections

My Saved Research

Login

Register

Help

Skip to main content

Chana W. Holocaust testimony (HVT-3827)

Oral History | Fortunoff Collection ID: HVT-3827

Videotape testimony of Chana W., who was born in Fiume, Italy (presently Riejka, Croatia) in 1928, the third of four children in an orthodox family. She recounts cordial relations with non-Jews; anti-Jewish restrictions beginning in 1938, including losing their Italian citizenship; her brother's emigration to Palestine in 1939; eviction from their apartment; her father's deportation in mid-1940; working with her mother and sister in the family store; evacuation of all the Jews to Lago di Garda for several weeks; returning home; correspondence from her father suggesting they join him; her mother's reluctance to abandon the business; German invasion; traveling to Trieste, then Bolzano; staying one night with her mother's classmate who refused to keep them longer; returning to Trieste; contacting a group from which they obtained false papers; living as non-Jews in Lugo; learning others from Fiume had been caught; arranging to be smuggled to Switzerland; traveling to Milan; her grandfather meeting them; meeting smugglers in Varese; arrest at the border; interrogation; and imprisonment in Como, Varese, then San Vittore in Milan.
Ms. W. recalls their transfer to Fossoli a week later; deportation by freight train in May; horrendous conditions; receiving soup once en route from the Red Cross; separation from her mother and one sister upon arrival at Auschwitz/Birkenau (she never saw them again); difficulty believing what others told her about the smokestacks, despite the odor; lighting candles and singing the first Friday night; extreme thirst and starvation; praying to calm herself, then later ceasing to pray; public hangings; her complete sense of isolation when her sister was hospitalized; slave labor in a factory; her own hospitalization; rejoining her sister; abandonment by the Germans; walking to Oświęcim; liberation by Soviet troops; hospitalization; destroying belongings in a German home as revenge; transfer to Opole; traveling to Trieste; joining their father in Milan via Mestre; returning to Fiume; recovering some family belongings; her sister's marriage; and enrolling in nursing school, intending to emigrate to Palestine. Ms. W. discusses her sense that time passed exponentially slower in Birkenau, and that she and her sister were totally separate and formed their own universe, and each attributing her survival to their being together. She shows photographs.

Author/Creator
W., Chana, 1928-
Published
Tel Aviv, Israel : Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, 1996
Interview Date
February 8, February 22, and March 7, 1996.
Language
Hebrew
Copies
2 copies: 3/4 in. master; and 1/2 in. VHS with time coding.
Cite As
Chana W. Holocaust Testimony (HVT-3827). Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University Library.