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Oral history interview with Dora Freilich

Oral History | Digitized | Accession Number: 1997.A.0441.7 | RG Number: RG-50.462.0007

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    Oral history interview with Dora Freilich


    Interview Summary
    Dora Golubowitz Freilich, born December 25, 1926 in Pruzany, Poland, near Bialystok, describes her pre-war life, including her schooling, relations with non-Jewish Poles, Jewish community life, and youth groups; the Russian occupation from 1939 to 1941, including the expropriation of her family’s business; the German invasion and her family being forced to move into the Pruzany ghetto in June 1941; the living conditions, cultural activities, labor units, Judenrat (Jewish council), and contact with Jewish partisans in the ghetto; how a non-Jewish ex-employee of her father hid her baby sister but later the family asked him to return the child; the evacuation of the ghetto in January 1943 and her family’s transport to Auschwitz-Birkenau; witnessing Mengele’s sadistic games with prisoners and her awareness of the medical experiments (which she describes in great detail); sadistic behavior by guards, including the shooting of her sister for sport; conditions at Birkenau, including slave labor, types of prisoners, orchestra, death process, and relations among inmates; how older girls tried to help the younger ones and the coping strategies they used to survive; the sabotage of a crematorium in October 1944 and the public hanging of four girls held responsible; the escape, capture, and execution of Mala Zimetbaum; life in the camp in January 1945 and the death march to Ravensbrück concentration camp, where she stayed for three months; being transferred to Malchow; escaping with 11 girls into the forest; being liberated by Russian soldiers in May 1945; the treatment by Russians, which ranged from kindness to brutality; their return to Pruzany after a three month journey, during which she experienced both antisemitism and help from non-Jews; going on to Łódź, Poland; their failed attempt to go to Palestine; getting married; going to Feldafing displaced persons camp in 1946; immigrating to the United States in March 1949; survivor’s guilt; and how the Holocaust and the loss of her family still affects both her and her daughter.
    Dora Freilich
    Helen Grassman
    interview:  1984 October 24
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Gratz College Holocaust Oral History Archive

    Physical Details

    5 sound cassettes (60 min.).

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Topical Term
    Antisemitism. Concentration camp escapes. Concentration camp guards. Concentration camp inmates--Selection process. Concentration camps--Psychological aspects. Death march survivors. Death marches. Forced labor. Guerrillas. Hanging--Poland--Oswiecim. Holocaust survivors. Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Poland--Personal narratives. Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Psychological aspects. Jewish councils--Belarus--Pruzhany. Jewish ghettos--Belarus--Pruzhany. Jewish women in the Holocaust. Jewish youth--Europe--Societies and clubs. Jews--Belarus--Pruzhany. Jews--Social life and customs. Sabotage--Poland--Oswiecim. Shooting (Execution) Soldiers--Soviet Union. Women concentration camp inmates. World War, 1939-1945--Concentration camps--Liberation. World War, 1939-1945--Deportations from Poland. World War, 1939-1945--Underground movements--Poland--Oswiecim. Women--Personal narratives.

    Administrative Notes

    The Gratz College Holocaust Oral History Archive conducted the interview with Dora Freilich in Philadelphia, Pa. on October 24, 1984. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum received the tapes of the interview from Gratz College on September 26, 1997.
    Record last modified:
    2023-11-16 08:35:56
    This page:

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