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Oral history interview with Irene Opdyke

Oral History | Accession Number: 1984.1.1.21 | RG Number: RG-50.157.0021

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.

Irene Opdyke, born in Kozienice, Poland, describes growing up in a close, Catholic family with four younger sisters, all of whom were taught always to keep an open heart, to be helpful; joining the Polish army then hiding in the forest after Poland was defeated; being very brutally treated by Russian troops and eventually being sent to an ammunitions factory in Poland, where she acted as a server; being sent to the front in Poland, close to the Russian border where she witnessed horrendous brutalities carried out on Jewish families; being moved again to work in the laundry room of about 300 Germans and the local head of the Gestapo in Ternopil', Ukraine; befriending 12 Jews working there and creating an information network; becoming the housekeeper to a German major and managing to hide Jews in the cellar in an underground area under the gazebo; the liquidation of the ghetto in early 1943 and taking the 12 Jews to the forest to join others in hiding; building a bunker where the Jews stayed until the Russian Army liberated them; joining the Polish partisans to help in the fight against the Russians and eventually being arrested and put in detention; escaping by jumping out a window; going to Krakow, Poland; going to the United States in 1949 and becoming a US citizen; working in the garment center in NYC; getting married to a man who worked for the United Nations; and the tree planted in her honor on the Avenue of the Righteous in Jerusalem.

Interviewee
Irene G. Opdyke
Date
1984 September 17  (interview)
Language
English
Extent
2 sound cassettes (60 min.).
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Council
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Record last modified: 2018-01-22 10:45:47
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn510797