Advanced Search

Learn About The Holocaust

Special Collections

My Saved Research




Skip to main content

Oral history interview with Daniel Avidar

Oral History | Accession Number: 1995.A.1272.238 | RG Number: RG-50.120.0238

Daniel Avidar, born in 1931 in Vilna, Poland (now Vilnius, Lithuania), describes being the youngest of five children in an affluent family; attending a Hebrew school; the Soviet occupation; his family being scheduled for deportation to Siberia; the German invasion in June 1941; his sister Batya and her children living with them; his sister Dina working as a nurse in the Jewish hospital; ghettoization in September; Batya hiding gold in their basement; breaking valuables they could not bring with them so others could not have them; Dina obtaining a position for Batya at the hospital; Dina switching her documents with Batya so she could claim their father was her husband and her younger siblings her children, thus saving them from round-ups and mass killings; his parents hiding in a bunker in November 1941 during a round-up; Batya hiding Daniel and his siblings at the hospital; returning to find their parents gone; attending school, which was a distraction from hunger and cold; his sister Rivka's death; attending synagogue daily to say Kaddish for her; the rabbi inviting him to attend his yeshiva; finding strength through his Torah studies; a public hanging; learning ghetto songs; working in the locksmith shop; seeing a notice that they were to be deported; Dina dressing him as a girl to keep him with her and pushing him to the men's group once they arrived at Kaiserwald; doing slave labor building railroad tracks; obtaining valuables from newly arrived prisoners; trading with locals for extra food; throwing valuables over the fence to his sisters; visiting with his sisters weekly; being hospitalized for an injury; receiving assistance from two prisoner physicians; a German political prisoner saving him from selection for death; hiding for four weeks while his injury healed; a foreman helping him avoid the children's selection; an SS pushing his hand into a saw; the slow healing of his wound; being transferred on Rosh ha-Shanah 1944 by ship to Stutthof; prisoners chanting Yom Kippur prayers during the journey; continuing contact with Dina; being transferred to Kokoszki (also called Burggraben); slave labor in the Schichau-Werke shipyard; smuggling potatoes back to camp to share with others; a German helping him avoid a fatal beating; a death march in January 1945; liberation by Soviet troops in May; Dina obtaining medication for him; observing a Soviet soldier killing Germans for revenge; their three-month journey to Vilnius; their inability to obtain their family property; avoiding antisemitic violence with help from Poles; traveling to Łódź; joining Hashomer Hatzair; Berihah moving them several times; his illegal immigration to Palestine in 1947; his twenty-five year military career; his loss of faith in God; the importance of his sister and friends to his survival; the camp hierarchies; overcoming pervasive painful memories through helping establish and build Israel and his family; testifying twice at war crime trials in Düsseldorf; sharing his experiences with his children; and going on a trip to Poland in 1992.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Daniel Avidar
interview:  1995 April 17
13 videocassettes (U-Matic) : sound, color ; 3/4 in..
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
Record last modified: 2020-03-26 09:28:59
This page: