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Oral history interview with Malvina Herzfeld

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

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.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Herzfeld, Malvina
interview:  1982 December 23
2 sound cassettes (60 min.).
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Gratz College Holocaust Oral History Archive
Record last modified: 2022-07-28 20:10:41
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