- Consists of correspondence and photographs relating to the donor and her family before and during the Holocaust in Croatia. Includes five photographs depicting the donor and her family members; handwritten notes by Elza Polak (donor's mother) about her experiences; a postcard sent by the donor's father, Artur Polak, from Germany; and one letter written by the donor's paternal grandfather to the donor's father.
- Credit Line
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Jelena Polak Babic
- Collection Creator
- Jelena P. Babic
Jelena Polak Babic was born Jalena Polak in Varazdin, Croatia, on June 30, 1939 to Artur (July 12, 1908-October 1989) and Elza Polak (nee Maider, November 18, 1909-October 11, 1995) and had one sister who was born after the war. Artur served in the Croatian army as a medical doctor. On April 10, 1941, the Ustasa regime disbanded the army, and her father returned home around April 15. The next day, German soldiers and members of the Ustasa came to their apartment and arrested her father claiming he was a “dangerous Jewish spy.” The man from the Ustasa knew that Artur Polak was a philatelist. He told Jelena’s mother to hand over her husband’s stamp collection. She did, and Jelena believes that this is why her father was not killed when he was taken to Zagreb. Artur Polak was sent to an officer’s camp in Germany.
On July 13, 1941, the Jews of Varazdin were told to assemble at a gymnasium with minimal luggage. The entire community, consisting of 600 people, was forced into cattle cars and sent to Gospic. Upon arrival, people came off the train and were divided into groups. Women and children went to a pig farm in Maximovicovo. The men, including Jelena’s grandfather, were taken to Jadovno where they were killed. In Gospic, the women did forced labor. Jelena was dehydrated and had a high fever. Each day, as Jelena’s mother went to work, she passed a hospital. Fearing that Jelena would die, Elza approached a doctor there for help, explaining that she and her daughter were Jews. There, they met Dr. Ante Fulgosi, a medical student who obtained his supervisor’s permission to admit Elza and Jelena to the infection department.
Once Gospic came under Italian authority, Jelena and her mother left the hospital with another person from Varazdin, Eva Krajansky, whose fiancé was already in the Italian zone. First, they obtained some papers from an Italian officer and they headed for Zadar. Eva Krajansky’s fiancé was working as a pharmacist. Jelena’s mother got a job in a laboratory. They remained there until 1943. They learned that Jelena’s grandmother had died in the labor camp and that her grandfather was murdered in Jasenovac. When Zadar was bombed by the allies, Italy capitulated. Jelena and her mother went to Dugi Otok Pasman and met up with partisans, where Jelena’s mother did medical work. Zadar was liberated at the end of 1944 by United States troops. There had been no news from her father for a year. Jelena and Elza went to Zagreb where they were reunited with Artur. Jelena married Zarko Babic and had one son.
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- Conditions on Access
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Keywords & Subjects
- Holder of Originals
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
- Legal Status
- Permanent Collection
- The papers were donated by Dr. Jelena Polak Babic to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2002.
- Record last modified:
- 2023-02-24 14:05:05
- This page:
Also in Jelena Polak Babic collection
The collection consists of a Star of David badge, correspondence, and photographs relating to Dr. Jelena Polak Babic and the Polak family during the Holocaust in Croatia.
The badge was issued to and worn by Elza Polak, the mother of Jelena Babic in Croatia.