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Oral history interview with Joel Elkes

Oral History | Accession Number: 2005.604.8 | RG Number: RG-50.641.0017

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

Joel Elkes, who was a medical student in England from 1931 to 1938 and later lived in Birmingham, England from 1940 to 1957 before he immigrated to the United States, discusses being terrified about the fate of his family and of the Lithuanian people; going to the Russian embassy in England where his Lithuanian passport was confiscated; knowing very little about what was happening in Lithuania and Poland, occasionally receiving messages from friends and from the Red Cross; cutting himself off mentally and emotionally and immersing himself in work; his relationship with his father Elhanan Elkes, Head of the Jewish Council in Kovno Ghetto; learning only after that war that his father was the head of the Judenrat; his father’s ethical teachings and influence as a selfless doctor; receiving a letter from his father in Fall 1945 addressed to him and his sister in October 1943; how Pnina Tory smuggled out the letter, guarding it with her life; the letter in which his father wrote that he knew the end of the ghetto was near; how the letter served as a last will and testament to his children; learning that his father died in Dachau; bringing his mother who had survived the Stutthof concentration camp to England from which she eventually immigrated with his sister to Israel; being unable to discuss the Holocaust for years, until he learned more about what happened in the ghetto from Avraham Tory; how his father’s letter gave him a clear picture of what he endured; and how he can finally confront the past.

Interviewee
Dr. Joel Elkes
Date
approximately 1997  (interview)
Language
English
Genre/Form
Documentary films.
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, acquired from Herb Krosney
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Record last modified: 2018-03-20 10:53:19
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn44267