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Oral history interview with Irmentraud Durfee

Oral History | Digitized | Accession Number: 2017.265.1 | RG Number: RG-50.030.0943

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    Oral history interview with Irmentraud Durfee


    Interview Summary
    Irmentraud Durfee (née Fleissig), born on July 6, 1925 in Vienna, Austria, discusses her younger brothers and parents; her mother’s Catholic upbringing and her father’s Jewish upbringing; growing up in downtown Vienna; her Jewish grandfather’s army service in World War I; celebrating both the Catholic and Jewish holidays; attending a Hauptschule; considering herself to be Jewish; immediately feeling the impacts of the Anschluss in March 1938; classes at school becoming segregated into Christian, Jewish, and half-Christian/half-Jewish groups of students; being called a Mischling; the Gestapo seizing her father’s business; her grandfather being forced to clean the streets; the confiscation of Jewish bank accounts; being forced to wear a yellow star on all clothing; the deaths of her mother’s parents; her mother’s sisters not coming to the house much after the Anschluss; moving to the open ghetto in Vienna’s Second District in 1939 and her mother’s choice to stay with the family; the destruction of synagogues and Catholic churches during Kristallnacht; her father working odd jobs, her mother working in a German army kitchen, and her job at a hair salon owned by a member of the SA; being sexually abused by the hair salon’s owner for one and a half years, starting at the age of fourteen, and his threats to report her to the Gestapo; her forced labor at a munitions factory and making parts for submarines; learning years later that the hair salon owner was killed by Soviet soldiers upon their arrival in Vienna; being in the munitions factory when it was bombed; the Gestapo taking her father away in 1941; being raped by four Gestapo men at their headquarters; her mother arranging for her to stay in hiding with a Christian friend in Mauer, Austria on the outskirts of Vienna, where she stayed until the end of the war; her father’s death; her mother receiving a letter from a Polish railroad worker saying that her husband had been killed in Auschwitz; the return of a neighbor who had been part of the Sonderkommando in Auschwitz, who confirmed her father’s death and returned his wedding ring; her aunt’s and cousins’ deaths in Treblinka; a cousin’s internment at Ferramonti in Italy; her father’s time in the Warsaw Ghetto and the Warsaw Uprising of 1944; her mother’s weekly visits to her in hiding; returning home and hiding in the attic there after hearing of the rapes committed by Soviet soldiers; her mother’s rape by a Soviet soldier; postwar looting; visiting Israel in 1978; working as an interpreter at the American headquarters at the Hotel Regina after the war; her mother’s death in Vienna in 1978; meeting her first husband, an American soldier, in Vienna; having a daughter; divorcing her first husband and remarrying; and speaking about her wartime experiences.

    Family photographs and descriptions follow the interview.
    Ms. Irmentraud Durfee
    Navazelskis, Ina
    interview:  2017 July 28
    creation: Fall River (Mass.)

    Physical Details

    Oral histories.
    1 digital file : MPEG-4.

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
    Conditions on Use
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    Keywords & Subjects

    Geographic Name
    Vienna (Austria)
    Personal Name
    Durfee, Irmentraud.

    Administrative Notes

    Ina Navazelskis, on behalf of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Oral History Branch, conducted the oral history interview with Irmentraud Durfee on July 28, 2017 in Fall River, MA.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this oral history interview has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2023-11-16 08:05:42
    This page:

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