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Oral history interview with Neonila Silionova

Oral History | Accession Number: 2003.456.48 | RG Number: RG-50.568.0048

Neonila Silionova, born in 1929 in Moskvina, Latvia, discusses the mass panic at the start of the German occupation; her parents wanting to leave, but her grandfather did not allow it; Latvian neighbors who called her family communists; having many Jewish neighbors; her grandfather who did business with his Jewish friend; her grandfather giving his Jewish friend candles to sell in return for sugar, matches, and other essentials; how a Jewish neighbor was not able to escape from Latvia; the threats from German soldiers towards locals; how a Jewish friend gave her family his belongings then fled and returned two weeks later with his family, all of whom had stars sewn onto their clothing; the Jewish friend’s explanation that the Germans promised that he and his family would be sent to a ghetto in Germany where they would be safe; her grandfather’s skepticism at this news; the roundup and shooting of the Jewish neighbors a few days later; some Jewish locals hiding from death squads; speaking with a Jewish neighbor who survived; hearing gunshots and screams from almost two and a half miles away for one entire day; reports from witnesses that the Germans disrobed and brutalized the Jews; hearing that children were being thrown into the ditches as well; how Preiļi was primarily a Jewish city until the German occupation; how after the war, one of the few escapees returned to Preiļi to pay respect at the Jewish memorial built there; Germans blaming the communists and subsequently arresting her father and uncle; walking by mass graves on her way to school; hearing stories of Jewish bodies being exhumed and burned each night; how Preiļi was surrounded by German soldiers during the day of the murders; how when her relatives were arrested, they too were rounded up along with other alleged communists to be shot, but were spared; the Germans interrogating her and other neighbors about what they witnessed following the killing of a neighbor; one of the local women writing a letter to the authority in charge that prevented their execution; her father feeding Latvian and Russian soldiers coming through the town; a group of partisans murdering an entire family of 12 sons, a pregnant wife, and a husband; stories of the violence and disarray of post-war life; and how a peace with the partisans was eventually reached.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Silionova, Neonila
interview:  2005 August 28
1 videocassette (DVCAM) : sound, color ; 1/4 in..
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, courtesy of the Jeff and Toby Herr Foundation
Record last modified: 2022-07-28 19:54:44
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