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Oral history interview with Dora Freilich

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

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 Ravensbruck 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 Lodz, 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.

Interviewee
Dora Freilich
Date
1984 October 24  (interview)
Language
English
Extent
5 sound cassettes (60 min.).
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, gift of the Holocaust Oral History Archive of Gratz College
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Record last modified: 2018-01-22 10:40:57
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn508628