Advanced Search

Learn About The Holocaust

Special Collections

My Saved Research




Skip to main content

Oral history interview with Exequiel ben Dov Pollak

Oral History | Accession Number: 2013.294.8 | RG Number: RG-50.693.0008

Exequiel ben Dov Pollak, born in 1924 in Borsa, Maramures, Romania, describes how his town had 3,000 inhabitants and the Jews lived in the lowlands and the gentiles lived in the mountains; the relationship between the Jews and the gentiles; how arson destroyed three-quarters of the Jews’ wooden houses and how the Iron Guard was to blame; speaking only Yiddish at home; how his grandparents also spoke Hungarian; his Bar Mitzvah; his extended family and how many were shot in front of their homes; his childhood and being orphaned by age 4; attending public school; examples of cruelty against the Jews; reading Marx and Engels before being expelled from school; how at the end of 1939, at age 13, he was sent to live with his maternal grandparents in Gura Humorului, Bukovina, Romania; his shock at seeing civilization and modern life (i.e. electricity and cars); his grandparents’ textile plant; how in 1940 the Russians entered Chernivtsi, Ukraine; being offered to go to a university; boarding a train that had 20 cars full of Jews and hearing the Russians with accordions singing communist slogans; being transferred to a cattle train and travelling for 23 days with meager food supplies; how many died of dysentery or were sent to replace soldiers in factories; arriving in Chevarkul e Kostriende to build wooden houses; being transferred to the Urals, to Chelabinsky (Chelyabinsk, Russia) to a tank factory; being given heavy clothes; getting sick, but having to work anyway; missing two days of work; being condemned to eight years in jail for abandoning his job during the war; conditions in the prison; teaching German to another inmate and learning Russian; working in the kitchen, stealing food for the barracks, and the prison’s library; being sent to the North Pole to a place called Barkuta (possibly Vorkuta, Komi, Russia); working to hollow a mountain; cutting trees down; being there for four years; having his punishment reduced; being freed with a stipend; taking a real passenger train and his decision to escape; wandering for over 20 days; going through Moscow on November 7, the day of the revolution, and seeing Stalin from a block away; arriving in Chernovitz (Chernivtsi, Ukraine) and trying to locate his relatives’ house and finding his Aunt Perla Pollak; how she managed to get him false papers by the name of Katz and then Kalisher to leave Siret, Romania; going to his family in Gura Humorului; deciding to go to Israel; training in face-to-face combat; moving to Bulgaria to board two illegal ships (Pan York and Pan Kresh) to Israel; meeting his cousin, Yosel Pollak; being caught by four British ships and taken to Cyprus; staying there between 1947 and 1949; learning to shoot in preparation for the Haganah; being a judo trainer; meeting an uncle, Moises; arriving in Israel; going to Givat Brenner; working in the kibbutz juice factory, Rimon; moving to Tel-Aviv, to work in an ice factory; his army service; fighting in the 1956 war and suffering hearing loss; and going to Chile to be with his family.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Pollak, Exequiel Ben Dov
Codner, Karen
interview:  2009 August 13
3 digital files : MOV.
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Fundación Memoria Viva
Record last modified: 2022-06-16 10:13:15
This page: