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Oral history interview with Hela Rupfenheiser

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

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    Oral history interview with Hela Rupfenheiser


    Interview Summary
    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.)
    Hela Rupfenheiser
    Dr. Eli Pfefferkorn
    interview:  1987 October 04
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, United States Holocaust Memorial Council

    Physical Details

    Hebrew Polish
    9 videocassettes (U-Matic) : sound, color ; 3/4 in..

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    Administrative Notes

    The interview with Hela Rupfenheiser was conducted on October 4, 1987 and October 28, 1987 by Eli Pfefferkorn for the Krakow Underground Project. The project was coordinated by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council in Israel with Holocaust survivors who were members of the Krakow Underground.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this oral history interview has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2023-11-16 08:27:02
    This page:

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