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Oral history interview with Hela Rupfenheiser

Oral History | Accession Number: 1994.A.0051.9 | RG Number: RG-50.308.0009

Hela Rupfenheiser, born in Kraków, Poland, discusses her youth in Kraków; being a member of the Akiba Zionist youth organization; joining a “hakhsharah” group (a Zionist training settlement) in Warsaw in March 1941; Kraków before the war; staying in the ghetto; the fates of her family members during the war; preparing to go to the training camp in Warsaw; living in a three-room apartment with twenty youths across from one of the ghetto gates; life with the group; conditions in the Warsaw ghetto; people suffering from typhus; the cold winter of 1941-1942; hearing rumors from Vilna (Vilnius, Lithuania) about the Chelmno killings; the different Zionist organizations that had their own “hakhsharot” or training camps in Warsaw; the murders of community leaders in the spring of 1942; the Zionist Hakhsharah leaders coming together at the Jewish library; the deportations in the summer of 1942; the Zionist youth deciding to rise up and rebel on July 28, 1942; returning to Kraków to consult with the leadership there; the difficult journey to Kraków; meeting with Poldek Wasserman at a hospital to get counterfeit papers so she could enter the ghetto; going to see Aharon “Dolek” Liebskind and his wife Rivka “Voskhe” Liebskind; going to see Szymek Draenger who was her counselor in the youth movement in Kraków; their “platoon” which was called “Gdud ha-Sharon”; her discussions with the leaders in Kraków; being the courier between Kraków and Warsaw; returning to Warsaw with false papers; her activities as a courier; Idek Tennenaum, who oversaw the process of gathering the forms for the false papers; Szymek Draenger, who was the master forger; the major roundup and deportation to Belzec in June; Gusta Draenger, who led 20 girls in the youth movement; going east to fight along with her brother for a week before Rosh ha-Shanah; the arrest of Gusta and Szymek and their releases; her memories of Gusta; Gusta and Szymek visiting the group in Warsaw; traveling with Gusta once between Warsaw and Kraków; the Cyganeria attack on December 22, 1942; the last time she saw Gusta; going to Warsaw; the liquidation of the ghetto; being in Bergen-Belsen in the summer of 1943; meeting a child (Anna Brown) who had met Gusta in the Montelupich prison; and going to Israel after the war. (The interview ends with a photograph of Hela as a young woman, presumably the age she was during the war.)

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Rupfenheiser, Hela
Pfefferkorn, Dr. Eli
interview:  1987 October 04
9 videocassettes (U-Matic) : sound, color ; 3/4 in..
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, United States Holocaust Memorial Council
Record last modified: 2022-07-28 19:51:47
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