Advanced Search

Learn About The Holocaust

Special Collections

My Saved Research




Skip to main content

Gisela Zamora papers

Document | Not Digitized | Accession Number: 2004.385.1

Search this record's additional resources, such as finding aids, documents, or transcripts.

No results match this search term.
Check spelling and try again.

results are loading

0 results found for “keyward


    The papers consist of a copy of a document issued to Guiseppe (Joseph) Zamoire, husband of Gisela Zamora, stating that he was a prisoner in Auschwitz and a pass issued to Gisela Eckstein [donor] when she was returning from a concentration camp giving her permission to pass through the town of Zgorzelice (Görlitz), Germany, and cross the bridge in Friedberg, Germany, along with two men.
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Gisela E. Zamora
    Collection Creator
    Gisela E. Zamora
    Joseph Zamora
    Gisela Bina Eckstein was born on February 5, 1928, in Battenberg, Germany, to Berthold and Bertha Marx Eckstein. Berthold was born on January 28, 1893, in Friedberg to Moses and Hanna Blumenthal Eckstein. Berthold was one of twelve children. He was an officer in the German Army during World War I (1914-1918), was wounded in the right shoulder, and awarded the Iron Cross. Bertha was born on March 29, 1895, in Battenberg to Moses and Beena Neuburger Marx. Bertha had three brothers and two sisters and her family had lived in the area for three generations. Moses owned a shoe business. Berthold and Bertha married in 1926 and settled in Battenberg. Berthold worked as an agronomist for the Hesse-Nassau provincial government. Gisela had one brother, Norbert, born in 1929. Bertha observed Jewish laws and kept kosher, but Berthold did not because of his job.
    The Nazi government came to power in 1933. Battenberg had a Nazi Party mayor and the family increasingly experienced anti-Semitism. Gisela and Norbert had to sit in the back row at school with the Roma children. Romani boys exposed themselves to Gisela and a non-Jewish student told the teacher, who did nothing. Her non-Jewish friends were forbidden to talk to her and she was afraid to sleep because a neighbor threw stones through the windows. Berthold lost his job because he was Jewish. He took over Moses’ business, but it was difficult to maintain as Jewish businesses were boycotted. They survived on money from Bertha’s sister and brother. The family attempted to emigrate to the United States, but their applications were rejected because of Berthold’s war disability
    In 1937, the family moved to Friedberg which was a larger, more liberal town. Gisela and Norbert attended the Jewish District School in the nearby town, Bad Nauheim. During the Kristallnacht pogrom on November 9-10, 1938, Berthold was arrested and deported to Buchenwald concentration camp. Gisela and Norbert hid in the attic. The family’s porcelain, crystal and furniture were thrown out of the windows by vandals. Berthold was released after four weeks. His older brother, Jakob, was killed in Buchenwald. In 1939, their school was closed. Gisela was placed in a children’s home in Frankfurt am Main and attended the Philanthropin School, a preparatory school for Cambridge University in England. Norbert was sent to live with their paternal aunt in Dusseldorf. Gisela later lived with the Linz family, whose housekeeper, Ms. Loewenstein, was from Battenberg. Gisela often traveled via train to visit her family. She had to wear a Star of David badge and sit in a separate car for Jews. In 1941, German authorities confiscated the Linz’s home and closed all Jewish schools. Gisela and Norbert moved back with their parents and Gisela worked washing floors in an old age home.
    In September 1942, the family was taken to a transit center in Darmstadt where they were selected for Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp in German-occupied Czechoslovakia. They were sent there and not further east because of Berthold’s military service. Berthold’s brother and his family were also in the transit camp. Berthold tried to get them sent to Theresienstadt, but they were deported to the east. After arrival in Terezin, the family was placed in the Hannover barracks with the Jewish intelligentsia and other professionals. The illustrator, Jo Spier, lived in the barracks and Gisela became friends with his daughter, Celine. She also became friends with the pianist, Sylvia Lowenstein, who gave Gisela tickets to her concerts. Berthold became a minor official of the Judenrat [Jewish council] and transferred Gisela to children’s barrack L414. Her supervisor, Ita Heumann, was a prominent Zionist and Judaic scholar. The children played games, celebrated the Jewish holidays. and studied Palestinian history. Everyone had to work in the camp. One summer, Gisela worked in a garden outside of the ghetto and sometimes smuggled vegetables back to her parents. During the winter, she worked in the nursery washing diapers in cold water. She contracted a cyst and pustules from the bedbugs. Norbert contracted typhus and was quarantined. In June 1944, the camp was prepared for an inspection by the International Red Cross and Gisela received new clothing.
    In August, Berthold was transferred to another camp with a group of younger men. In September, the families of the deported men were told that they could join them. They were not told the destination and, in September, they were transported to Auschwitz death camp. During processing, Gisela was separated from Bertha and Norbert and sent to Birkenau. She shared a bunk with her friend from Friedburg, Ruth Wertheim. Gisela became increasingly ill. She suffered from severe diarrhea, shortness of breath, and a persistent cough.
    In October 1944, Gisela was deported to Maerzdorf labor camp, a subcamp of Gross-Rosen, in German-occupied Poland. She was not initially selected, but her friend pulled her in line. Before she left, a friend, Ruth Hershkowitz, gave her a loaf of bread. She was transferred with her friends Ruth Wertheim and Hannelore Praeger. She worked on the fourth floor of the Kramsda Mehner and Frahne linen factory making parachutes from flax. The machines caused her hands to bleed and develop sores. At night, she shoveled coal from wagons. They slept in a Quonset hut on top of the factory. The heat from the machinery provided warmth and hot water. Gisela contracted tuberculosis, pleurisy, and mastitis and was placed in the sick bay in March 1945. A German medic, Dr. Hoffman, made incisions to drain the cyst that relieved some of the pain. French prisoners of war interned in a nearby camp said that the Soviet Army was close and that the Germans might blow the camp up. At the beginning of May, the German guards left and the prisoners were locked in the camp. On May 8, 1945, the prisoners saw a Soviet soldier on a bicycle and, shortly afterward, the Soviet Army liberated the camp.
    Gisela recovered for five weeks in a hospital in Hirschberg an der Bergstrasse, Germany. She was released in June and a Soviet officer gave her a document that allowed her to travel to Friedburg. She went to the home of a family friend, Edgar Maurer, who was not Jewish, but was antifascist and married to a Jewish woman. His wife, Trudi was killed in Bergen-Belsen and Edgar had recently returned from Dachau. He invited Gisela to live with him, his son, Rudi, and housekeeper, Meta Euler. Edgar took her to a hospital in Bad Nauheim where she was treated for several months. Gisela learned that her parents and brother had been killed in Auschwitz upon arrival. She next was admitted to the hospital in Feldafing displaced persons camp and then to a DP hospital in Bad Kohlgrub. An American soldier helped her place an advertisement in a German-Jewish newspaper seeking relatives. Her maternal uncle, Louis Marx, contacted her and provided papers for her to emigrate to the United States. She sailed on the SS Marine Flasher and Louis met her in New York on March 17, 1947. She later met another survivor, Joseph Zamora and they wed on August 18, 1952. Joseph was born in Greiz, Germany, and fled illegally to Yugoslavia in 1940 with his father. In 1941, they escaped to the Italian zone, but in 1944 they were captured and deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Joseph was transferred to Buna subcamp and escaped from a death march in March 1945. His father died in the camp. Joseph passed away on July 8, 2001, age 80.
    Josef Joel Zamojre was born on June 28, 1921, in Greiz, Germany, to Marcus and Elinor Wiesenthal Zamojre. Marcus was born on August 16, 1893, in Zalozce, Poland (Zaliztsi, Ukraine), to Shalom and Esther Frish Zamojre. Elinor was born on May 15, 1889, in Lvov, Poland (Lviv, Ukraine), to Yosef Wiesenthal and Rachel Gefner. The family settled in Frankfurt am Main. They were observant and kept a kosher household. Marcus owned a pipe and tobacco store. The family was wealthy and vacationed annually with family in Greiz.

    The Nazi government that came to power in 1933 enacted severe anti-Jewish policies. Antisemitism increased and while on vacation in Greiz, Josef was tormented by anti-Jewish taunts. He nearly drowned the boy who made them, but his aunt intervened. In 1935, the Catholic principal of Josef’s school, Dr. Zeiger, told Marcus to transfer Josef to a Jewish school. He then attended the Jewish Philanthropin Reformrealgymnasium, a preparatory school for Cambridge University in England. In 1937, two British teachers were hired to teach all courses in English to facilitate eventual emigration; one often referred to the school as the “Jew school.” During Kristallnacht on November 10, 1938, the family hid in the attic. They could see synagogues burning and firemen protecting only Aryan homes. German SA members invaded the house and threw the family’s belongings out the windows. They found the family in the attic. One beat Marcus with a table leg and then swung it at Elinor, but only grazed her chin. Marcus was hospitalized and Elinor and Josef went into hiding in a friend’s home. They read a false report in a newspaper that a fight had broken out between Marcus and his neighbor and both had been taken to the hospital. After a few days, Marcus was released and the family returned home. On November 22, German SS officers took Josef to a fairground. He saw men down rolling on the ground while being kicked, and then loaded onto buses. One officer asked seventeen year old Josef his age and dismissed him because they were only taking men eighteen and above. A man told him he would be killed if he left through the entrance and arranged a taxi for him. Josef returned to school and discovered that the principal had been deported to Dachau and there were only a few students. In July 1939, he took his final exams, but the school was closed the school before he learned the results. The family stopped walking freely on the streets and no longer went to Greiz. They received reduced rations because they were Jewish.

    In 1940, Josef and Marcus signed up for illegal transport to Palestine via Yugoslavia. The waiting list was long, so Josef worked as an intern at a Zionist Hachshara, an agricultural school, near Berlin. One night, there was bombing by the British Royal Air Force and the interns were told to get identity tags so the authorities could report the dead. He returned to Frankfurt and received a passport and official permission to leave Germany with Marcus. Elinor did not feel able to make the journey and decided to stay and join them later. In December, Josef and Marcus traveled to a German police station in Graz on the Austrian-Yugoslavian border. They then took a train to Zagreb with thirty others. They bought Serbian newspapers to avoid suspicion, but held them upside down and were sent back. They made a second attempt and were arrested in Zagreb and sent back. Their third attempt was successful, and after riding in a covered truck at night, they reached the city in March 1941. The next transport to Palestine was full and HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) provided housing. In April, Germany invaded Yugoslavia. In July, Josef and Marcus fled to Italian-occupied Ljubljana, with fifty others from Youth Aliyah, a Zionist child rescue organization. Marcus stayed with the adults and Josef lived nearby with the young people. They received support from DELASEM (Delegation for the Assistance of Jewish Emigrants). The increasing partisan activity in the area made the Italians suspicious of the refugees. In November, Marcus was ordered to report to Rovigo and Josef decided to join him. They left in December and reported in Ficarolo, and were registered as civilian internees. The Italian authorities provided them with lodging, ration coupons, and free movie tickets. They exchanged letters infrequently with Elinor. The last time they heard from her was fall 1942, when she wrote that she was not well and was being deported to the Łódź ghetto in German-occupied Poland. The last they heard from any family was a short note from Marcus’s brother, Oscar, stating that he was well in Binyaminah, Palestine.

    In early 1943, the Italian police ordered Marcus and Josef to Taglio-Di-Po. The young refugees from Ljubljana had formed a Kibbutz Haschara and Josef received permission to visit them in May. By September 1943, Allied forces had liberated southern Italy. Germany now occupied northern Italy and Josef and Marcus went into hiding with two fishermen on a deserted island in the Po Valley. In March 1944, they were discovered by the Germans and sent to Fossoli di Carpi transit camp. In April, they were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Josef was tattooed with the number A-5522. They shared a bunk and were selected to work in the Kanada Kommando, sorting the baggage of new arrivals. They were allowed to take food they found. Markus did his best to keep kosher and observe Jewish practices. In the summer, they were transferred to digging work in the “Fishpond,” where Josef was reunited with some of the agricultural interns. He found some newspapers and read about D-Day and the attempt to assassinate Hitler on July 20. In October, young, able-bodied men were transferred out of Birkenau after members of the Sonderkommando blew up crematoria #2. Josef was deported to Auschwitz-Monowitz. He tried to get Marcus transferred, but was told that he was too old. Josef worked constructing railroad tracks. A wooden track fell on his foot and it became infected. A Jewish doctor operated on his foot and he was given a week to recover in the hospital.

    On January 18, 1945, prisoners were forced on a death march because of the advancing Soviet Army. After two days, they reached Gliwice, Poland and Josef saw the kapos shooting prisoners. He escaped to the forest and heard men talking in Russian, but saw that they were wearing German uniforms. He hid in a barn owned by Polish farmers and, after three days, the owner told him he was free. Josef traveled to Krakow, Slovakia, Budapest and Yugoslavia. In July, he arrived in Rome to find Marcus. Before they were separated, they had agreed to meet there. He learned that Marcus had died in Birkenau in October 1944. Josef contacted his paternal aunt and maternal uncle who had emigrated to the US before the war. They sponsored his emigration and he arrived in February 1947. He Americanized his name to Joseph Zamora. He studied chemistry at Columbia University in New York. He met another German Jewish survivor, Gisela Eckstein, and the couple married on August 18, 1952. Gisela had been interned in Theresienstadt, Auschwitz-Birkenau, and Maerzdorf during the Holocaust. Joseph never learned what happened to Elinor; it was presumed that she died in the Łódź ghetto. Joseph passed away on July 8, 2001, age 80. Gisela died, age 84, in 2012.

    Physical Details

    Polish Russian
    1 folder

    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

    The papers were donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2004 by Gisela Zamora.
    Record last modified:
    2023-02-24 14:21:34
    This page:

    Download & Licensing

    In-Person Research

    Contact Us