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Oral history interview with Shalom Eilati

Oral History | Accession Number: 1995.A.1272.351 | RG Number: RG-50.120.0351

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

Shalom Eilati, born in 1933 in Kaunas, Lithuania, discusses being the eldest of two children; attending a Hebrew school; holiday visits to his grandfather, a rabbi in Viduklė; Soviet occupation; transfer to a Yiddish school; German invasion in June 1941; staying in a bunker for three days; anti-Jewish restrictions; ghettoization in August; his father's appointment to the Aeltestenrat, which saved many Jews, as ghetto historian; attending school; a large round-up in fall 1941 from which they were freed; the next morning hearing and seeing mass shootings in the distance at the Ninth Fort and corpses at the round-up area; his father's deportation to Riga, Latvia in February 1942; receiving letters from him through Lithuanian and Latvian friends; his mother smuggling food into the ghetto from her workplace; joining a Zionist group guarding community gardens; public hanging of a friend for smuggling; singing in a choir; his mother's involvement in the ghetto underground, through which he met its leader, Chaim Yellin; his mother taking his sister to hide with Lithuanians; attending an ORT school; hiding during the round-up of children; his mother arranging for him to be smuggled out of the ghetto and hidden with a Lithuanian family in April 1944; being moved to a farm in Liepynai in June; the farmer sending him to hide in the forest; liberation by Soviet troops; traveling to Marijampolė; returning to Kaunas with help from a Soviet officer; living with a Jewish couple for a year; finding personal belongings in the ashes of the ghetto; living in an orphanage for six months; hearing from his father; leaving to join him with a Beriḥah group; capture by Soviets in Vilnius; interrogation by the NKVD; escaping; the Jewish community hiding him, then arranging his travel to join his father in Munich, Germany in March 1946; immigration to Palestine two weeks later; joining his aunt; celebrating his bar mitzvah three weeks after his arrival; nightmares resulting from his experiences; his father's reluctance to share his experiences; difficulty confirming his mother's and sister's deaths; and writing his memoir over the last twenty-three years. (He shows photographs and sings ghetto songs.)

Interviewee
Shalom Eilati
Date
1999 February 14  (interview)
Language
Hebrew
Extent
15 videocasettes (Betacam SP) : sound, color ; 1/2 in..
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, courtesy of the Jeff and Toby Herr Foundation
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Record last modified: 2018-07-11 15:49:22
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn503317