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Oral history interview with Irmentraud Durfee

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

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.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Durfee, Ms. Irmentraud
Navazelskis, Ina
interview:  2017 July 28
creation: Fall River (Mass.)
Oral histories.
1 digital file : MPEG-4.
Record last modified: 2022-06-24 20:16:56
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