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Oral history interview with Ava Schneck

Oral History | Accession Number: 2011.177.14 | RG Number: RG-50.677.0014

Ava Schneck, born on November 26, 1923 in Békéscsaba, Hungary, discusses growing up in an affluent family; having six brothers and one sister; living in an Orthodox Jewish community; the German invasion of Hungary in 1944; the closing of businesses; her father transferring his textile business to non-Jewish woman with the understanding that some proceeds would be sent to his family while they were in hiding; her father being taken to a forced labor camp (he survived the war but died from complications incurred from his experiences); surviving in 1944 Budapest by posing as a Christian (she had acquired false papers); her brother offering a Gestapo member a cigarette, which she believes saved his life (she says not having a cigarette could have revealed his Jewishness since there were no cigarettes in the ghetto); living in fear; witnessing deportations; the shootings; using a code word to identify fellow Jews (she has forgotten the code word); sneaking a little money from their textile business to her mother and siblings, who were hiding; her anger that no country was coming to their rescue; taking a two-week journey from Budapest to Békéscsaba (sleeping in barns) after liberation; the Christians’ fear of Russian soldiers retaliation if they did not assist the Jewish community; her family’s first Shabbat following war; seeking fresh flowers (a rarity) for a bridal bouquet; spending two years in a displaced persons camp in the American zone; receiving HIAS assistance; the food shortages; having a baby; saying goodbye to her mother before taking a two-week voyage to the United States; arriving with $10 in her pocket and weighing only 90 pounds; living in Cleveland, OH before moving to New York; starting an office furniture business; and additional memories of her war-time life, including attending public school, removing her yellow star arm band to fit in and learn, and her non-Jewish teacher walking his student home to make sure they were safe from antisemitic acts. (She shares photographs from her post-war life.)

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Mrs. Ava Schneck
Dr. Henri Lustiger Thaler
interview:  2014 September 28
1 digital file : MPEG-4.
Credit Line
This testimony was recorded through a joint project of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Amud Aish Memorial Museum Kleinman Family Holocaust Education Center.