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Oral history interview with Kurt Jilovsky

Oral History | Accession Number: 1996.A.0586.39 | RG Number: RG-50.407.0039

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

Kurt Jilovsky, born July 11, 1905 in Liberec, Czechoslovakia (now in Czech Republic), discusses his family; the small synagogue and Jewish community in Liberec; studying Talmud at his paternal grandfather’s house; the relations between Jews and non-Jews; his father’s work as a landscape photographer; his sister Greta who was born in 1908 (she was his only family member who survived the war); moving to Prague in 1910 and attending a government school; attending a convent school at first because it was best primary school in town; speaking German and Czech; growing up in an assimilated family; joining the Jewish boy scouts at age 11; becoming an ardent Zionist but not being religious; his father’s service in WWI; attending a grammar school; his bar mitzvah; conditions in Austria and Czechoslovakia; attending the Czech university of technology, studying economics; his first job at a Jewish-owned company that manufactured tin household articles and steel drums to transport petrol and chemicals; his life in the late 1920s; working for the Philips radio company; traveling to Berlin, Germany to attend a radio exposition after September 1938 and seeing Nazi Germany for the first time; spending three months in Holland in 1938-39 before going to Cyprus; spending two years in Cyprus, working for Phillips; the closing of Philips; trying to volunteer with the Czech Army; working for an orange grower in Cyprus; going to Haifa in 1941; his wife’s experiences during the war; volunteering for the British Army in Palestine; being sent to Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt; being part of a materials transport company; returning to Palestine for officers training school outside Haifa; being paid differently from his peers and reporting it to the British army newspaper; serving in Cairo and meeting Jews who spoke Yiddish; seeing King Lear performed in Yiddish in the Cairo Opera theater; the dispersal of the Jewish company and being stationed in Rome; being discharged from the army in Terranto, Italy; reuniting with his sister; returning to Prague; working for Philips again; going to Palestine and reuniting with his wife in 1946; working for Philips in Holland; going to Sydney, Australia in November 1948; and his feelings about his life.

Interviewee
Kurt Jilovsky
Date
1996 March 17  (interview)
Language
English
Extent
1 videocassette (VHS) : sound, color ; 1/2 in..
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Record last modified: 2018-11-07 13:55:34
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn505822