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Adrienne Friede Krausz papers

Document | Not Digitized | Accession Number: 2003.77.1

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    Overview

    Description
    The collection consists of documents, correspondence, photographs and newspaper clippings regarding Adrienne Krausz's (née Matyas) imprisonment in Auschwitz and Altenburg concentration camps and her subsequent role as a witness during a trial of a war criminal.
    Date
    inclusive:  1944-1963
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Adrienne F. Krausz
    Collection Creator
    Adrienne F. Krausz
    Biography
    Adrienne Matyas was born on May 20, 1923, in Cluj [Cluj-Napoca), Romania, to Akos and Tereza Matyas. Both of her parents were general surgeons with successful medical practices. Akos was born in Nagyenyed on September 21, 1893, to Mihai and Laura Sperber Matyas. Mihai was a physician. Akos had 2 sisters, Miczi and Irma, who married Simon Racz and had 2 children, Eva and Ilona. Tereza was born in Gyergy-Ditro on June 18, 1898, to Albert and Anna Stark Matyas. Albert was a gentleman farmer. Tereza had 3 older brothers, and 1 older and 2 younger sisters. All of her siblings had Gentile spouses. Matyas, the eldest, was a physician with a private 200 bed hospital, his wife was a Catholic opera singer. Another brother was a surgeon, and one a lawyer, her younger sisters married Romanians, a diplomat and colonel. Tereza graduated from medical school in 1920. She and Akos married Akos circa 1922. Adrienne’s sister Mariette was born on April 18, 1933. The family was prosperous and assimilated. Adrienne had governesses from France, Germany, and England, and she learned those languages as well as Hungarian and Romanian. When Adrienne was 10, she decided she wanted to learn about Judaism and went to a rabbi who let her enroll in weekly classes.
    Romania had a long tradition of vicious antisemitism which increased with rise of Nazi Germany. On August 30, 1940, northern Transylvania, which included Cluj, was reassigned to Hungary by the Second Vienna Award, arbitrated by Germany. After years of near civil war, the loss of this territory forced King Carol to abdicate that September. General Antonescu and the fascist Iron Guard came to power and Romania joined the Axis Alliance. Jewish businesses were confiscated, property destroyed, and there were anti-Jewish pogroms throughout the country.
    Adrienne, in her final year of high school, transferred to a Hungarian Presbyterian school. In the late 1930s, the Hungarian government had enacted anti-Jewish laws similar to Germany’s Nuremberg racial laws. Jews were barred from professions and economic opportunities were reduced. Adrienne’s mother had to give up her medical practice, since only 1 doctor per Jewish family was permitted to practice. From 1940 on, many males Jews in Hungary were assigned to forced labor brigades. In summer 1941, Adrienne applied to medical school in Cluj, but was rejected because of a Jewish quota. An acquaintance of her father’s arranged for her to attend medical school in Budapest, where she was 1 of 4 Jewish students. After Germany’s defeat by the Soviet Union near Stalingrad in February 1943, Hungary sought a separate truce with the western Allies. On March 19, 1944, the German Army occupied Hungary, and Adrienne returned to Cluj.
    In April, Hungarian authorities ordered the Jews living outside Budapest to relocate to centralized areas. Adrienne’s father had her help him bury family valuables. One day, German and Hungarian soldiers came to their house at 6 am to collect the family. Akos was jailed. Adrienne, Tereza, and Mariette were released and they went to the private hospital owned by Adrienne’s maternal uncle Matyas. Tereza was registered as a patient, and all three stayed in the hospital for over a month. Adrienne was able to visit her father in jail. He asked her to throw the hidden box of valuables into the river, as he was afraid that he would reveal its location during the brutal interrogations. She and Tereza carried out his request. Cluj was the collection center for Northern Transylvania and a ghetto to hold the Jews was established in a brick factory. Akos and the other prisoners were moved from the jail to the ghetto.
    On June 7, 1944, Adrienne and her mother received a phone call from Akos, telling them he had to go on the transport leaving that day. They joined him at the train train station and the family was forced onto a cattle train with nearly 70 other Jews. They did not know their destination, but there were rumors that they were being taken to Switzerland. They soon noticed Polish signs and knew they were being taken east. On June 11, the train stopped in Birkenau killing center, a subcamp of Auschwitz. They were met by SS guards with dogs who arranged them into two lines. The selection was conducted by Dr. Capesius, whom Akos and Tereza knew very well from before the war, when Capesius had represented Schering & Bayer Pharmaceuticals in Transylvania. He ordered Tereza and 11 year old Mariette to the left and Adrienne to the right. Akos was able to talk to Capesius, who apparently recognized him. Capesius sent Akos to the left, stating that: “He will be happy to join his wife and younger daughter.”
    Adrienne was stripped, shaved, and assigned prisoner number 29142, but not tattooed. Each new prisoner was ordered to write a postcard pretending it was from Waldsee, Switzerland. Adrienne addressed her postcard to her uncle’s secretary. Because Adrienne was a medical student, she was made Kapo of a chlor commando, which cleaned latrines. She was able to add people she knew to the group, including Judith Schlinger, a girl 3 years her junior from her hometown, also the daughter of physicians. Judith had not been eating or drinking, but with Adrienne's support, began to do so. Adrienne was imprisoned in B-3 section, called Mexico, because it had the worst conditions in the entire camp. She witnessed and experienced terrible starvation and brutality; hours long roll calls in the cold, abuse,and beatings. One night, she witnessed the destruction of the Roma camp, set on fire with all the people inside. A benefit of chlor commando was that they were able to walk around their section. They noticed barracks being emptied by transports. On August 9, 1944, Adrienne and Judith snuck into the next block as it was being transported out of Birkenau. The train stopped at Tachau slave labor camp, but the factory had been bombed so they were fed well, then put back on the train and taken into Germany and arrived on September 20 at Ravensbrueck concentration camp. After two weeks in quarantine, Adrienne and Judith were transferred in early October to Altenburg where she was a slave laborer in a Hugo Schneider (HASAG) munitions factory that made cartridge cases. They were still beaten and starved, but they had straw mattresses, sweaters, showers, and toilets. On April 11, 1945, as US troops approached, the prisoners were sent on a death march; those who fell behind were shot. Adrienne and Judith reached Waldenburg, where, after a night in the woods, heard shouts of Americans and they ran out and met US troops. The Americans asked for people with medical experience and Adrienne and another medical student from Budapest volunteered and were asked to take over the empty hospital. Judith volunteered as a translator and they separated.
    After a few weeks, Adrienne was able to return to Cluj. She was desperate to find her family. She found only her uncle Matyas and his family, and a maternal aunt in Budapest. Her parents and sister had been murdered in the gas chambers on arrival at Birkenau. Out of 3500 people in their transport, only about 200 had been selected for labor. She learned that soon after her escape from Birkenau, the inmates of her block were deported to Riga and shot. The postcard she was forced to send had arrived, and her uncle’s secretary returned it to Adrienne. She met an old friend, Leslie Krausz, a physician, whom she had dated before the war in Cluj. They married on December 29, 1945. They had a daughter Mariette in July 1947. Adrienne resumed her studies, and in 1958, graduated from medical school with honors. A few months later, the Krausz family immigrated to Israel. In 1961, the couple arranged for a medical internship in the United States where Adrienne became a surgeon and Leslie, a psychiatrist. Mariette later became a registered nurse. In 1963, Adrienne was a witness for the prosecution in the trial of Dr. Victor Capesius, who sent her parents and sister to their death in Birkenau. She also testified in the trial of Mulka, a former Kapo of the Zigeuner Lager, who burned the camp with it inhabitants. She became reaquainted with Judith, also a physician, in 1999 in Israel. Adrienne and Leslie divorced in 1975. Adrienne married George Friede in 1985. She retired from her teaching position and surgical practice in 2002. Adrienne was a recipient of a lifetime achievement award from the Assn. of Women Surgeons. She was dedicated to educating people about the Holocaust. Adrienne, age 86, died in March 2011.

    Physical Details

    Language
    German
    Extent
    1 folder
    System of Arrangement
    The collection is arranged as a single series.

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
    Conditions on Use
    Material(s) in this collection may be protected by copyright and/or related rights. You do not require further permission from the Museum to use this material. The user is solely responsible for making a determination as to if and how the material may be used.

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The collection was donated by Dr. Adrienne Friede Krausz to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2003.
    Record last modified:
    2023-05-25 15:50:41
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn520806

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