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Oral history interview with Helen Borenstein

Oral History | Accession Number: 2018.341.1 | RG Number: RG-50.283.0001

Helen Borenstein (née Hela Kronenberg), born on December 10, 1923 in Łódź, Poland, discusses growing up in a well-to-do family and having a wonderful childhood; her father’s work in the iron business; attending a Jewish private school along with her three sisters; their family vacations in the mountains; rumors of war in 1939; the German invasion on September 1, 1939 and the occupation of Łódź; being deported with her family in a cattle car to a little town in the south of Poland, where they lived in a house with another family; their move to live with her aunt; the spread of typhoid fever; falling ill and going to the hospital; her family’s recovery from the disease and moving into a house her father purchased; the arrival of the Germans and being forced into a ghetto; her making uniforms for the German officers; the liquidation of the ghetto; being saved from deportation to Treblinka by her sister’s boyfriend who was a Jewish policeman; getting a job at a factory; going to an outside labor camp in the early spring of 1942; the fear in the camp; sneaking out of the barracks with a friend and being beaten when they returned; being sent to Bergen-Belsen; escaping from Bergen-Belsen and blending in with a group of Polish people in the ghetto; living in the ghetto undetected; getting a job in a peat factory with her sisters; meeting her future husband at the factory; the liquidation of the ghetto and the transportation of her family to Natzweiler concentration camp; being transported to Majdanek; the crematory in Majdanek; being moved to Brünnlitz concentration camp; working in a quarry; being sent to Auschwitz; being tattooed with a prisoner number and being forced to have her head shaved; volunteering for a transport that was predominantly full of Hungarians and ended in Mühlhausen, Germany; working in the Black Forest; tap dancing for the German soldiers; being liberated by English soldiers; going to Stuttgart displaced persons camp; getting married; immigrating to the United States in 1948; life in the US; and her message to younger generations to respect their parents and teachers.


Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Interviewee
Ms. Helen Kronenberg Borenstein
Interviewer
Ms. Avery Rosh
Date
interview:  2013 December 26
Language
English
Extent
1 sound recording : M4A.
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Avery Rosh