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Oral history interview with Malvina Herzfeld

Oral History | Digitized | Accession Number: 1997.A.0441.64 | RG Number: RG-50.462.0064

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    Oral history interview with Malvina Herzfeld


    Interview Summary
    Malvina Herzfeld, born in Zurich, Switzerland in 1914, describes living in Tsobut, Danzig from 1924 to 1936; moving to Holland, where she married Martin Sternfeld, a German lawyer, in December 1937; the German invasion of Holland in May 1940; the establishment of Westerbork transit camp for German Jewish refugees; her husband’s arrest by the SS during a roundup of Jewish men in 1941 and deportation a camp in Holland and then to Mauthausen concentration camp; receiving her husband’s death certificate in September 1941; working for the Jewish Council; being arrested and released; being helped and hidden by a non-Jewish Dutch neighbor; agreeing to work with the Dutch underground, led by Walter Suskind; how her group saved Jewish children, who had been taken from their parents during the transports; working as a courier to the Hague and Westerbork and trying to rescue Jewish boys when she was arrested by the SS, put into solitary confinement, and tortured; not talking and being sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where she encountered Hans Totman, a Jewish war criminal who worked for the Germans; her arrival and the selection process; the living and working conditions in Birkenau; working as a secretary for the Oberscharfurer at Budy together with an other Jewish girl; how they narrowly escaped being sent to the crematorium for stealing food; the liquidation of Auschwitz in January 1945 and being sent on a death march to Bergen-Belsen, where she stayed until April 1945 during a typhoid epidemic; being liberated by British troops; the punishment of the guards, the hanging of the camp commanders, and the post-liberation conditions; how the British took survivors to a military camp until displaced persons camps were established; working for the British army as a translator and having a brief reunion with her brother, who served in the British Army; not getting permission to join her brother in England; being sent to Holland and quarantined; staying in Holland until 1947 and her attempts to find out what happened to her family and her husband; locating friends from the underground; how she located the Jewish girl from Budy after the war; and immigrating to the United States in 1947.
    Malvina Herzfeld
    interview:  1982 December 23
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Gratz College Holocaust Oral History Archive

    Physical Details

    2 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
    Concentration camp inmates--Selection process. Death march survivors. Death marches. Forced labor. Guerrilla couriers. Hiding places--Netherlands. Holocaust survivors. Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Personal narratives. Jewish children--Netherlands. Jewish councils--Netherlands. Jewish women in the Holocaust. Jews--Netherlands. Jews--Persecutions--Netherlands. Typhoid fever. Women concentration camp inmates. World War, 1939-1945--Concentration camps--Liberation. World War, 1939-1945--Conscript labor. World War, 1939-1945--Deportations from Netherlands. World War, 1939-1945--Jews--Rescue--Netherlands. World War, 1939-1945--Underground movements--Netherlands. World War, 1939-1945--Underground movements--Personal narratives. World War, 1939-1945--War work--Netherlands. Women--Personal narratives.
    Personal Name
    Herzfeld, Malvina, 1914-

    Administrative Notes

    The Gratz College Holocaust Oral History Archive conducted the interview with Malvina Herzfeld in Philadelphia, Pa., on December 23, 1982. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum received the tapes of the interview from Gratz College on September 30, 1999.
    Record last modified:
    2023-11-16 08:36:18
    This page:

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