Flory Jagoda (born Florica Kabilio) is the daughter of Samuel and Rosa (Altarac) Papo. She was born December 21, 1923 in Sarajevo. Shortly after her birth, Florica's mother left her husband and returned to her parents, Sumbul and Berta Altarac, who were Sephardic musicians in the town of Vlasenica. In 1930 Florica's mother married Michael Kabilio and moved to Zagreb, leaving Florica in Vlasenica with her grandparents. Two years later, after Michael legally adopted Florica, she joined her mother and stepfather in Zagreb. During the separation her parents had established a prosperous tie factory and given up religious observance, Sephardic customs and the Ladino language. It took Florica some time to adapt to her new surroundings and lifestyle, but she soon was integrated into her public school. She also began formal music training and soon became an accomplished accordion player. In 1941 following the establishment of the Independent State of Croatia, Florica was expelled from school and forced to wear a Jewish badge. Her music teacher also refused to see her. As conditions worsened in Zagreb, Michael sought the help of a childhood friend to get the family train tickets to Split in Italian-occupied Yugoslavia. Florica traveled first and managed to avoid suspicion by playing her accordion for other passengers in her compartment. Her parents joined her eight days later. They lived in Split for several months until the Italians evacuated the Jewish population to the island of Korcula in the Adriatic Sea. Korcula provided a safe haven until the Italian surrender of July 25, 1943 and the subsequent occupation of Italian-held territories by German troops. Florica and her mother escaped by tugboat to the Italian mainland. Traveling at night, they reached Italy in two days and settled in Bari. Michael, who had been in Split at the time of their escape, joined them several weeks later. In Bari, Florica found work with the U.S. army and soon made the acquaintance of an American Jewish sergeant by the name of Harry Jagoda. The two were married on June 24, 1945. Harry returned to the U.S. soon after the war, but Florica had to wait until June 1946 to secure the necessary immigration papers. The day before she left Italy Florica's mother received a letter from her brother, Lezo Altarac. In it he described the attack of May 1941, when the Jews of Vlasenica were rounded-up and locked in a barn. They were then shot one by one by local Muslims operating under German command and their bodies dumped into a ravine. Lezo escaped through a board he had loosened the night before. He was the only member of his family to survive the massacre.