Oral history interview with Lea Popovic, Blimka Rosic, and Jeti Svarc
Blimka, Jeti (born July 15, 1921), and Lea Svarc describe escaping from Sarajevo, Yugoslavia (Bosnia) with their parents; the family fleeing one at a time with help from a family friend; going to Mostar, Yugoslavia (Bosnia) in the winter of 1941-1942 and assuming new identities to hide their Jewish background; the family being interned on the island of Hvar (Croatia), where they enjoyed freedom and comfort under the Italians' loose control; the family being transferred to the island of Rab (Croatia), where a concentration camp was established, though there was no ill treatment of the inmates; Lea attending classes taught by other inmates, Jeti working in the town's Italian hospital, and Blimka organizing activities within the camp; the sister splitting from their parents in the fall of 1943; joining the partisans and the liberation movement, which transferred them from the island to the mainland; Blimka’s work doing administrative work for the partisan forces and retiring as a captain; Blimka almost freezing to death twice on offensive missions, and being rescued at the last moment; Blimka marrying a Croat anti-fascist and having two sons; Jeti becoming a chief medical officer of a partisan battalion and fighting in a battle; Blimka completing her medical studies, eventually working as a pediatrician at a military teaching hospital in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (Serbia), and retiring as a colonel; Lea being a member of two surgical units of Tito's partisan army (National Liberation Army), being wounded in battle in 1944 and suffering permanent injury, after the war spending 30 years with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, where she became the Director of Finance, marrying a medical student she met in one of the surgical units, and having one son and one daughter; and their parents being transferred to a liberated territory in Croatia when they joined the partisans.
Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
- Blimka Rosic
- Anne G. Saldinger
1997 April 18
5 videocasettes (Betacam SP) : sound, color ; 1/2 in..
- Credit Line
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, courtesy of the Jeff and Toby Herr Foundation
Record last modified: 2021-02-16 15:52:28
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn513564
Also in Oral history interviews of the Former Yugoslavia Documentation Project
Oral history interviews with Jewish survivors of the Holocaust now living in Belgrade and the neighboring autonomous region of Vojvodinain in the Former Yugoslavia. Interviews include testimonies from former partisans and individuals who participated in Yugoslav resistance.
Sadik Danon, born in 1923 in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia (Bosnia and Hercegovina), describes moving to Belgrade, Serbia; his membership in the SKOJ; the beginning of the war; anti-fascist activities by local students and townspeople; restrictions placed upon the Jewish community under German occupation; fleeing to Tuzla; Ustashe forces massacring Serbs in surrounding villages; joining the Liberation Movement; actions of individuals in the Resistance; his imprisonment in Kreka prison in 1941; the persecution of the Serbian community by Ustase and Chetniks; his transfer to Jasenovac concentration camp in 1942; conditions and his forced labor in Jasenovac; his transfer to Stara Gradiska concentration camp; escaping from the camp and joining the Partisans in December 1942; his experiences fighting with the Partisans; and his life after the war.
Bonza Rafajlovic, born in Yugoslavia, describes his family and his prewar life in Belgrade (Serbia) as a Jew; escaping Belgrade during the German invasion in 1941; the Ustase forces he encountered; his escape to Italy and his attempt to help his family escape from Serbia to Italy; his imprisonment by Italian forces in Kajava concentration camp; his transfer to Feramonti concentration camp in 1941; conditions in the camp; his work in a village near the camp; his escape from the village; his time in Florence; the capitulation of Italy; joining the Yugoslavian Army; his role evacuating Slovenian prisoners from Italian camps in North Africa; fighting in battles; his marriage; his return to Belgrade in 1946; the effects of the Holocaust on his family; and his life after the war.
Zoltan Biro, born in Budapest, Hungary in 1922, describes his family and childhood in different cities in the former Yugoslavia; his education and prewar life; joining the SKOJ in 1932; his arrest for antifascist activities; his flight to Subotica, Serbia at the beginning of the war; life in Subotica under Hungarian occupation; being drafted into a working battalion under the Hungarian Air Force in 1942; his transfer to Bor for forced labor; the actions of Cheniks during the war; his escape from imprisonment; joining the Partisans; his arrival in Belgrade, Serbia in 1944; and his life after the war.
Dorde Hajzler, born in Subotica, Yugoslavia (Serbia), describes being a member of the Marxist, Zionist movement Tehelet Lavan; crossing into the communist youth movement when the Germans invaded, needing a more attainable goal than the creation of a Jewish state; setting a wheat silo in a neighboring village on fire in August 1941 with two others; being brought before a Hungarian court; being a minor and sentenced to eight years in prison while the other two were sentenced to death; avoiding the deportations of Hungarian Jews because he was in jail; and the administrator of the jail managing to prevent Jewish prisoners from being deported by the Nazis.
Egon Stajner, born in 1926 in Subotica, Yugoslavia (Serbia), describes his family's move to Novi Sad, Serbia in 1934; his membership in Hashomer Hatzair; life under Hungarian occupation during the war; his participation in the Liberation Front; a raid on Novi Sad by Hungarian forces, including the murder of civilians and looting of their belongings; a mass shooting and drowning of Jews and Serbs by Hungarian soldiers; the imprisonment of his sister; his move to Budapest and return to Novi Sad in 1943; his arrest, imprisonment in Backa Topola prison, and trial in 1944; his transfer to Komarno prison and then Dachau concentration camp; his time in Dachau; liberation by American forces in 1945; the effects of the Holocaust on his family; the death of his father in Auschwitz concentration camp; and his life after the war.
Enriko Josif, born in 1924 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (Serbia), describes his family and childhood; escaping from Belgrade to Split at the beginning of the war; organizing a demonstration against Mussolini and being sentenced to death as a result; hiding on Korcula Island; actions taken by Italian soldiers to transport Jewish refugees into Italy; moving to Switzerland after the capitulation of Italy; returning to Belgrade after the war; the effects of the Holocaust on his family; and founding the Serbian-Jewish Friendship organization in Belgrade.
Samuel Kabiljo, born in 1922 in Prijedor, Yugoslavia (Bosnia and Hercegovina), describes his family and the prewar Jewish community of Prijedor; the capitulation of Yugoslavia in 1941; Ustase forces persecuting Serbs and Jews, including the mass murder of Serbs; the first liberation of Prijdor in 1942 by partisan forces; joining a partisan unit; his participation in the Kozara offensive; his experience as a partisan during the war; his participation in the battle for Belgrade in 1944; his participation in the liberation of Yugoslavia from German forces; the effects of the Holocaust on his family; and his life after the war.
Magda Micic-Milijasevic (née Fenje) describes the beginning of antisemitic persecution in the town of Raska, Serbia; her father being popular in Raska and a veterinarian who charged on a generous sliding scale; the Germans invading Serbia in April 1941; their house being confiscated and the villagers coming to their aid; the local Serbian Christian Orthodox priest offering Magda's family shelter in his own home; the growing necessity to leave the village; the villagers organizing an escape route for the Fenje family; her family boarding a railway car during a busy market day and being transported to Biljanovac, Serbia; the villagers in Biljanovac putting her family in a small house and supplying them food and provisions throughout the winter of 1941-1942 and refused payment for their benevolence; her family going back to Raska in February 1942 and trying to get Magda's father's pension when they were warned once again of the Germans' searches; her father being escorted to another village where a family cared for him; her injury during an escape and being cared for by a peasant and then another family; rejoining her own family; her family being provided with false identification papers; meeting and marrying a Serbian royalist Chetnik while in hiding; being imprisoned by the Chetniks for stating that political infighting should end; being saved from execution by the local Chetnik commander, who saw Magda with her baby; the commander reporting that he could not find her while she hid for the remainder of the day in a stack of hay; her husband disappearing when Tito's partisans defeated the Chetniks; and the survival of the rest of her family.
Olivera Djurdic, born in 1927 in Uzice, Yugoslavia (Serbia), describes her family and their positive relationship with the local townspeople; the prewar Jewish community of Uzice; her father joining a partisan brigade at the beginning of the war; restrictions placed on the Jewish community under German occupation; the deportation of her father to a Slovenian prison; the persecution of communists and arrest of her sister; the citizens of Uzice who defended her family in an attempt to save them; her work for the partisans in Uzice and on the battlefield; the deaths of her family members; her return to Uzice; and her life after the war.
Sara Akjakaj, born in 1921 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (Serbia), describes her family; her membership in Hashomer Hatzair; the invasion of German forces in 1941; life under German occupation, including additional restrictions for her family because they were Jewish; her activities while in the Communist Youth; fleeing to Pirot, Serbia; her arrest and imprisonment by Bulgarian soldiers; her escape and procurement of train tickets to Sofia, Bulgaria; traveling from Sofia to Skopje, Macedonia and then Urosevac, Serbia; her time in Kuvaja concentration camp; her work with partisan units after the capitulation of Italy; the German offensive on Tirana, Albania in 1944; returning to Belgrade in 1945; the fates of her family members; and her life after the war.
Filip David, born in 1940 in Yugoslavia, describes his family; the looting of his apartment by German soldiers; conditions in Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia under German occupation; receiving assistance from a German minority doctor who opposed the Hitler regime; his father joining a partisan unit; his mother pretending to be a Serbian woman; collaboration between Ustase and German forces; roundups conducted by Ustase forces; an Ustase member releasing his family after a roundup at the end of the war; the fate of his family members; and his life after the war.
Eva Cavcic, born in 1923, describes living with her family in Sombor, Yugoslavia (Serbia) at the time of the war's outbreak; switching her affiliation from the Zionist group Tehelet Lavan to the communist youth movement in 1942 because the communists offered a less life-threatening path to resistance against the Nazi regime than the Zionist movement; being a courier for the communists, running messages between two local communist leaders, one of whom committed suicide when the Hungarians came to detain him; being tortured by the Hungarians in November 1942; being sentenced to many years in prison camps, including Bergen-Belsen in January 1943; conditions in Bergen-Belsen, where most of her co-inmates were other Jewish, communist women; the women being well organized and supportive and helping each other survive mass starvation; her parents being deported to Auschwitz; moving after liberation to Belgrade, Yugoslavia (Serbia) and graduating with a degree in chemistry; being supported almost entirely by the efforts of the local Jewish community and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee while earning her education; earning her Ph.D and working at the Institute for Nuclear Studies in Belgrade; and being the first president of the Association of War Veterans and a member of several other veterans associations.