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Oral history interview with Anna Lanota

Oral History | Accession Number: 1995.A.1280.5 | RG Number: RG-50.225.0005

Anna Lanota (née Rottenberg), born in Łódź, Poland on January 11, 1915, describes her observant Jewish family; the backgrounds of her mother and father; speaking Polish at home and attending an expensive Jewish school, which was known for its Zionistic tendencies; visiting her father’s family on a commune near Skryhiczyn, Poland; graduating high school and moving to Warsaw, Poland, where she studied psychology; her affiliations with the communist movement; working for CENTOS (Central Organization for the Care of Orphaned Children) in Otwock, Poland; working with Janusz Korczak (Henryk Goldszmit); fleeing from Warsaw after the outbreak of the war in 1939; going towards Skryhiczyn; her first encounter with the Soviet Army in Kowle and the difficulties she had obtaining the proper identification papers; working in the local orphanage alongside Ukrainians and Georgians; moving to Lvov, Poland (L'viv, Ukraine), where she worked in an orphanage; being unaware of the conditions in the Jewish ghettos; the German takeover of Lvov; returning to Warsaw in the fall of 1941; her first impression of the Warsaw Ghetto; beginning her work in the ghetto orphanage; her family being deported in July 1942; trying to warn others of the death camps, news of which had been told to them by the rail workers; her cousin escaping the gas van; witnessing the march of Korczak alongside his pupils to the Umschlagplatz on August 6; escaping from the ghetto and being helped by a stranger; her friends and family finding permanent lodgings for her and arranging false identification papers for her; working on behalf of the communists and helping to print and distribute the Głos Warszawy newspaper; joining the partisans at the end of 1942 and blowing up trains and reclaiming food supplies from the train transports; being wounded after an accident with a firearm and having to leave her unit; her fellow partisans being denounced, captured, and killed soon after; continuing to work for the underground with her husband; repairing damaged weapons and making explosives; the infamous Polish Hotel; the Warsaw Uprising and her husband’s participation on behalf of the AL (Armia Ludowa; People’s Army) in the Uprising; her husband’s death; her decision to not fight because she was pregnant; bribing her way out of Warsaw and giving birth to her child in Lublin, Poland; settling in Warsaw after the war; not returning to Łódź because it evoked too many painful memories; joining the Polish Communist Party; her work as the head editor of “Przyjaciόłka” magazine; being employed as a journalist and a psychologist; never experiencing antisemitic persecution in 1956 and 1968; and still trying to understand the Holocaust from the psychological point of view.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Anna Lanota
interview:  1994 July
5 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 09:48:46
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