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Oral history interview with Magdalena Farkas Berkovics

Oral History | Accession Number: 2009.318 | RG Number: RG-50.106.0177

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.

Magdalena Farkas Berkovics, born on July 15, 1919 in Cluj, Romania, discusses her childhood, schooling and musical training in a conservatory; experiencing low level antisemitism; getting married in 1939; living in her house in the Cluj ghetto with other women after the city’s Jewish men had been taken away for forced labor; conditions in the ghetto, including food scarcity and the black market; providing piano lessons to Christian children; being deported in June 1944; terrible conditions in the train car; her arrival at Auschwitz; being separated from her family except for one 25-year-old cousin; how her clothes were taken away and her hair removed; going to Stutthof in August 1944 and then digging ditches in Steinort (Sztynort, Poland), Elbing (Elbląg, Poland), and Groudentz; speaking about freedom with the other women and singing Hungarian songs; being liberated and traveling to Satu Mare, Romania, where Jewish volunteers helped her return to Cluj; how she found Christians living in her house and learned that she was the only survivor in her family; marrying, Zoltan Berkovics, in 1946; the birth of their son, Tiberius, who later changed his name to John Sylvanis because of antisemitism in Romania; how Communists nationalized her house and forced her to pay rent; teaching in the Romanian conservatory for 30 years; immigrating with her husband to the United States in the 1980s; and feeling very grateful for American liberty and democracy.

Interviewee
Magdalena Farkas Berkovics
Interviewer
Gail Schwartz
Date
2009 October 15  (interview)
Language
English
Extent
2 digital files : WAV.
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Record last modified: 2018-01-22 11:07:06
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn39799