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Oral history interview with Michal Efrat

Oral History | Accession Number: 1995.A.1272.283 | RG Number: RG-50.120.0283

Mickal Efrat, born in 1926 in Ostrava, Czechoslovakia (presently Czech Republic), discusses being the younger of two children; her family's assimilated lifestyle; attending a Czech school; cordial relations with non-Jews; participating in a Zionist youth group; expulsion from school in March 1939 due to German occupation; confiscation of the family's business; moving in with her grandparents; her father's deportation for forced labor, her mother leaving to earn money in Prague, and her brother moving to a hachshara; forming a subgroup with four other girls within the Zionist youth groups; her parents' return; studying with her group for a year at a Youth Aliyah school in Prague; their return to Ostrava; deportation with her family to Theresienstadt in fall 1942; living with her group; working in the garden, then the laundry; obtaining extra food for her parents; contacts only with her Zionist friends; her father's death in December; deportation to Auschwitz/Birkenau a year later; separation from her brother; a Greek prisoner helping her and her mother retain their coats and boots; assignment to the family camp; slave labor moving stones; transfer after six months with six girls to a privileged position in a weaving factory; receiving extra food and privileges for her high productivity; occasionally sabotaging her work; sharing food with her brother and the pain of watching him die; harsh treatment by Polish prisoners; her mother's transfer to her work detail; their transfer to Hamburg; slave labor clearing bombing debris; Russian POWs passing her extra food; singing satirical songs to raise their morale; French POWs passing them food and clothing; transfer to Neugraben, then another camp; transfer to Bergen-Belsen after eight months; horrendous conditions; observing cannibalism; liberation by British troops; her mother's transfer by British medical staff; learning she had died shortly thereafter; returning to Prague; living with an uncle and aunt there, then another uncle in Kopřivnice; leaving due to his refusal to return her mother's jewelry and feeling unwelcome; returning to Prague; a couple inviting her to live with them and arranging her entry to art school; meeting young Israelis; joining a Zionist group; and legal emigration to Israel in 1949; not sharing her experiences with Israelis due to their indifference to survivors; feeling comfortable only with fellow Czech survivors; winning prizes in children's literature; nightmares resulting from her experiences; and increasing emotional burdens with the passage of time.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Michal Efrat
interview:  1996 July 18
6 videocassettes (U-Matic) : sound, color ; 3/4 in..
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, courtesy of the Jeff and Toby Herr Foundation
Record last modified: 2020-03-26 09:45:47
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