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Oral history interview with Elazar Shafrir

Oral History | Accession Number: 1995.A.1272.309 | RG Number: RG-50.120.0309

Elazar Shafrir, born in Kraków, Poland in 1924, discusses being the elder of two children; his sister's birth in 1931; attending private Hebrew schools; antisemitic harassment; his father's communal leadership role, including in Zionist organizations; attending a Zionist congress with him in Switzerland in 1935; assisting German-Jewish refugees; German invasion in September 1939; anti-Jewish restrictions; his father briefly fleeing; his arrest a week after his return; notification of his death in December 1940; receiving assistance from his Polish nanny; his mother apprenticing him as a bookbinder; ghettoization in March 1941; entrusting valuables to his nanny; working in a book bindery, then in a German automobile garage; deportations, one of which included his mother; placing his sister with a neighbor; transfer to Płaszów in March 1943; learning his sister had been killed; slave labor in a paper factory; random killings by Kommandant Amon Göth; public hangings; failing health resulting in his losing hope of survival; developing an escape plan with a friend; hiding beneath barracks for several days; he and his friend crawling under the fences at night; being shot; hiding in a grain storage bin, then with his nanny (she removed the bullet, fed, and clothed them); living with another former Polish employee (his friend went elsewhere); the nanny selling his family valuables to obtain funds and false papers for him, and arranging with the underground for his escape to Hungary; traveling to Piwniczna tied under a freight train; smugglers taking him with a group to Prešov, Košice, then by train to Budapest; living in Balatonboglár as a non-Jew; meeting French prisoners of war who were planning an escape to Turkey; promising to join the French Foreign Legion to join them; traveling with them to Edirne; an Israeli representative negotiating his release from the group; legally immigrating to Palestine in March 1944; his career as a biochemist; sharing his story with his children and grandchildren; visiting Poland with his family in 1986; and believing his successful life and family are his form of revenge. (He shows photographs and documents.)

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Elazar Shafrir
interview:  1996 November 15
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 09:29:14
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