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Oral history interview with Margaret Guiness

Oral History | Accession Number: 2000.91.20 | RG Number: RG-50.493.0020

Margaret Guiness (née Wohl), born in Košice, Czechoslovakia, discusses her childhood; being the youngest of 10 children; her father Theador Wohl who was a very religious man and worked in the lumber business; her mother Anna Ritter; the Hungarian control in 1939 of their part of Czechoslovakia; by law not being allowed to speak their language and having to attend a Hungarian school; having to follow the Nuremberg laws; the German occupation in March 1944; being forced to wear the Jewish star and having to go to local police for to be identified and counted; the Germans taking the most important Jewish community members as hostages, including Margaret’s sister Manya and her husband who owned a car garage; the hostages never being released; his sister Elizabeth (Bozhena) who procured papers for herself and Margaret (age 14) and fleeing for Budapest, Hungary; the deportation of Jews from Košice to Auschwitz, including two of her sisters, her brother-in-law, and their two children; one of her brothers being hanged at Theresienstadt; being arrested along with her sister and held in the Gestapo prison for four months; hiding their Jewish identities; being sent with her sister in 1944 to Ravensbrück concentration camp; the conditions in the camp which were horrifying, cold, and brutal; being determined to survive to ensure that she would be able to tell the world what she saw and what they had all experienced; the horrifying medical experiments conducted at Ravensbrück; volunteering for all types of work, allowing her to smuggle food to her sister and her barrack; volunteering with her sister to work at a factory in Dortmund, Germany to help build rocket bombs; staying there until spring of 1945; being sent to Bergen-Belsen with her sister in February 1945; conditions at Bergen-Belsen being worse than those at Ravensbrück; the typhoid epidemic and people dying quickly and easily; finding one of her other sisters at Bergen-Belsen; sharing a bunk with Anne Frank for a short time; becoming very ill with typhoid and being plagued with many feverish dreams; seeing the camp Commandant and the other guards being stripped of their weapons and their ranks in April 1945 and thinking it was a dream while in fact the British had arrived and they were being liberated; being sent with her sisters to a hospital where they met with Swedish delegates and decided to move to Sweden, where she lived for three years; the death of her sister Elizabeth six months after their liberation; being contacted by an uncle in America who was able to send her papers; and arriving in the United States in 1949.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Margaret Guiness
Susan Lerer
interview:  1992 October 23
2 videocassettes (U-Matic) : sound, color ; 3/4 in..
Record last modified: 2023-11-16 08:56:05
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