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Oral history interview with Alegra Koen

Oral History | Accession Number: 2013.294.49 | RG Number: RG-50.693.0049

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.

Alegra Koen, born in Bitola, Yugoslavia (now in Macedonia), on September 17, 1922, describes the presence of antisemitism before the war; how they were all fearful and most of the neighbors were Christian; her father’s work in money exchange; having four brothers; attending gymnasium for four years instead of eight and having one hour a week of Jewish religion instruction; how one night the chief of police, a friend of her older brother, warned them to leave their house before 6 a.m. because they were going to be taken; leaving with her brothers but her parents staying behind; going with smugglers by truck to Tirana, Albania, which was occupied by the Italians; not having any false documents like many other refugees there; how her older, married brother (who had documents for himself, his wife, and son) fabricated a story for her and the other brothers were taken immediately to prison; being helped by some Albanese; staying with a family that had two girls of Alegra’s age; how later on she stayed with her cousin and aunt and they rented a house together for a year; her imprisoned brothers being freed then sent to a small town, Kabalia, where they were interned; joining her brothers so as to take care of them; being supported by the Joint supported but often being hungry; eating pork since it was raised nearby; the local war between Germans and Italians and using her youth and beauty to persuade them not to kill her brothers; going back to Zagreb, Yugoslavia after the liberation; not finding her home or her parents; the food kitchens for those returning and sleeping in a school building; how an old friend of her brother’s found her while she was waiting in the food line and told her he had gotten his own house back; how he and his parents had hid in the mountain and he was a partisan; moving in with his family and getting married in 1947; the ghetto in Monastir (Bitola); how after the war her older brother supported them all, working in textiles, and the family lived in Zagreb; saying they were Bulgarians because of the antisemitic atmosphere; believing Pavelik to be worse than Hitler; being given papers that said they were Bulgarians; her bother Chaim having an Albanese passport and living in Bari, Italy; how life was hard during the war; her other brothers escaping Tito and Communism by immigrating to Chile; joining her brothers after her husband died and bringing her son Dario; not liking Chile, returning home briefly, and then going back to Chile; and her belief that the Holocaust should not be forgotten.

Interviewee
Alegra Koen
Interviewer
Ilana Solowiejczyk
Date
2011 September 20  (interview)
Language
Spanish
Extent
1 digital file : MOV.
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Fundación Memoria Viva
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Record last modified: 2018-01-22 10:51:42
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn73329