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Oral history interview with Cecile Kassow

Oral History | Accession Number: 2007.416.2 | RG Number: RG-50.650.0001

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

Cecile Kassow (née Cymer, also spelled Cimmer), born October 23, 1923 in Czosnów, Poland, discusses the importance of weapons to the partisans; life with the partisans, including the romantic relationships; how she first learned about antisemitism from a childhood friend; memories from living in the Postow ghetto; working for the German commandant as a waitress; helping people escape the ghetto through use of the files she encountered while serving tables; the fatal shooting of her father while in the ghetto and her narrow escape after the policeman’s gun jammed; being hit by a jealous mother whose children had all been murdered; her mother’s relocation to the Postow ghetto in December 1942; her mother’s death in the ghetto; memories of the prevalence of prostitution, sexual violence, and abortions in the ghetto; the unjustified reputation she received as a result of guards repeatedly propositioning her for sexual favors; being saved by a non-Jewish farmer who put on a yellow star to infiltrate the ghetto where she resided; hiding in a hole in the floor of a barn from June 1942 until October 1943; her younger sister’s escape from the ghetto; how her sister joined her under the floor where she was hiding in December of 1942; how her sister gave birth in nearby woods without any medical support; being bathed and fed by Polish farmers who were also housing her best friend from school, Helen Vunkiewicz, and had saved hundreds of other Jews; bombing around the ghetto; reuniting with her brothers, one of whom risked his life many times to supply stolen weapons to prisoners; and her struggles with emotional health after the war.

Interviewee
Cecile Kassow
Interviewer
Joan Ringelheim
Date
1983 December 20  (interview)
Language
English
Genre/Form
Oral histories.
Extent
2 sound cassettes (60 min.).
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Joan Ringelheim