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Oral history interview with Elizabeth Herzog

Oral History | Accession Number: 1996.A.0586.61 | RG Number: RG-50.407.0061

Elizabeth Herzog, born April 10, 1924 in Poland, discusses her middle-class family’s move to Yaroslav (Jaroslaw, Poland); her father Max (born circa 1898-99) and her mother Laura Rothstein; her two younger brothers, Ismayel (born 1926) and Boris (born 1931); attending school with Jews and Poles; having to attend a private high school as Jews were not allowed in the public high school; never attending synagogue and never learning Hebrew or Yiddish; experiencing some antisemitism; her grandfather who was religious and was beaten up because he had a beard; belonging to a Zionist youth organization that met in secret; the picketing of Jewish shops around holidays to make buyers go to Christian-owned shops; the migration of members of her family in the mid-1930s from the German borders to Jaroslaw; her family’s consideration of emigration and deciding not to when her grandparents refused to leave; the beginning of the war in 1939; the frequent bombing of the city; the roundup and killing of Jewish businessmen; her father and uncles fleeing to Romania, where they were stopped by Russians and sent back to Poland; Jews being ordered to report to the train station with no belongings on October 13, 1939; going with her mother, aunts, and brothers toward the Russian border with many other women and children; arriving at Lubatchev and lived with a cabinetmaker; her father and uncles rejoining family; being evicted and moving to Lviv, Ukraine; attending school in Lviv; the Russians ordering her family to leave in April 1940; being taken by train to Irkutsk and staying in barracks for a while; going north by boat on the Angara River into the Taiga of Siberia to a labor camp 30 km from Bodaybo (Bodaĭbo, Russia); living in primitive barracks without electricity; eating mushrooms and berries in the summer and fish from the river in the winter; her family’s work cutting timber seven days a week; having little bread; getting water from snow; occasionally getting meat and oil; the awful mosquitos; going to the nearby city of Bodaybo; working at the train station along with her brother; becoming Russian citizens; being taken to a primitive collective farm near the Volga River in 1944; becoming a kindergarten teacher; food from the United States arriving in that area; repatriating to Poland on April 10, 1945; going to Silesia; hearing about the camp and thinking it was Russian propaganda; meeting her future husband (he was the only survivor of a 30 person family); her father experiencing antisemitism when he tried to return to their home; getting married in 1948; her brother’s immigration to Australia in 1946 so he could avoid pogroms; the immigration of her parents and youngest brother to Australia in 1950; immigrating with her husband in 1958 to Australia; their two children and two grandchildren; and her thoughts on Poland.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Elizabeth Herzog
Geri Kras
interview:  1996 July 04
1 videocassette (VHS) : sound, color ; 1/2 in..
Record last modified: 2020-04-07 11:00:06
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