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Oral history interview with Edith Palkowitz

Oral History | Accession Number: 2016.274.1 | RG Number: RG-50.030.0895

Edith Palkowitz, born on June 21, 1929 in Budapest, Hungary, discusses her family; learning German from her Swiss governess; her mother’s death; living with her grandmother and aunt; her father’s remarriage in 1941; hearing about the German occupation of Hungary over the radio; the departure of her governess; German soldiers arriving at her home and throwing her down three flights of stairs; marching six miles with her aunt and grandmother to a sports stadium; the reaction of bystanders who viewed the march; being led out of the stadium by a Hungarian soldier; staying with one of her aunt’s non-Jewish acquaintances for a few days; her aunt’s purchase of tickets to a safe house; the conditions in the safe house; leaving the safe house and being forced by German soldiers into the ghetto; her grandmother staying in hiding with the non-Jewish acquaintance; hearing about the Warsaw Uprising; not having enough to eat in the ghetto; discussing escape with her aunt; her aunt’s disappearance; being pulled from a marching line in the ghetto by a German soldier and being saved by a Christian cross in her pocketbook; returning to the home of her aunt’s non-Jewish friend; finding work as a domestic; her father’s service and death in forced labor; the fates of other family members; the lives of her stepmother and half-sister; the Arrow Cross; staying in a brick factory with her aunt before being forced into the ghetto; hearing about the Danube River shootings; hearing about rapes committed by German and Hungarian soldiers; her husband, a Czech survivor; visiting Hungary several times after emigrating; the Siege of Budapest; liberation by the Soviets; reuniting with her aunt and grandmother; the scarcity of food; learning about Auschwitz and other camps as survivors returned to Budapest after the war; people going to the Dohány Street Synagogue to claim bodies; her thoughts on losing her childhood; immigrating to England on a student visa; immigrating to France through the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) and living in Paris for two years; getting a visa to the United States in 1948; traveling to the United States by ship; staying at Ellis Island for three months; settling in the Bronx with a distant relative; earning her high school equivalency; meeting and marrying her husband; having two children; stressing the importance of knowledge; and her public speaking today.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Edith Palkowitz
Katherine Saint John
interview:  2016 August 26
creation: San Diego (Calif.)
1 digital file : MPEG-4.