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Memoir: The Holocaust Recalled



































Volume 15e

Miriam Reich

The Holocaust Recalled

published by the
Concordia University Chair in Canadian Jewish Studies
Copyright © Miriam Reich, 2001


Langston Hughes, One Way Ticket 1948


Key Words

Kaunus (Kovno) Lithuanian city; Russian invasion of Kaunus; Shvabes Gymnasium, local Jewish school; Nazi invasion of Kaunus; Slobodka, Suburb of Kaunus: location of Jewish ghetto; Helmut Raucha, commandant of Kaunus ghetto; Port Kunda, labour camp; Estonia; Kurame, camp in Estonia; Camp Goldfiels; Stutthof, camp in Germany; Oksenzoll, camp near Hamburg; Bergen-Belsen; Jewish Brigade from Palestine; Sweden; Montreal, Canada


Narrative opens with scene depicting the author’s 10th birthday party in the Lithuanian city of Kaunus (Kovno), the day of the Soviet invasion. The Red Army met no resistance and was largely welcomed by the Lithuanian population. But since father was a businessman who owned a textile plant, he was condemned as class enemy. Mother had obtained a Ph.D. degree in economics at German university, but never practiced profession. Describes household and family property; tells of the fate of her grandparents. With Russian invasion, father’s plant is confiscated; all valuables are taken from house; forced to share dwelling with another family. Her Jewish high school is closed and she attends Russian school. Joins the Young Russian, communist youth organization. On June 24, 1941 German invasion of Lithuania. Describes the activities of pro-Nazi Lithuanians who carry out pogroms against Jews. Reign of terror begins which sees the murder of tens of thousands of Jews. Restriction of Jewish activities and erection of the ghetto in Slobodka, on the outskirts of Kaunus; contains 29,760 Jews. Selection of Jews begins. Describes her personal emotional state and how she coped with the reality she confronted. Life in the ghetto is described, including the educational and cultural activities. Describes selection and transport from the ghetto; she remains with mother but separated from father and brother who, she later learns, were killed in camp in Estonia. Works in labour group clearing forests and building roads. After several months moved to another camp; forced to walk 50 kilometers which took three days to reach Goldfiels. By August 1944, with Russian advance, transported by boxcar to Germany, in Stutthof; later sent to Oksenzoll, camp near Hamburg. She worked in munitions factory under relatively good conditions. Remained there until February 1945 when transported to Bergen-Belsen. Describes terrible conditions of the camp. Shocked at the appearance of the inmates. At liberation she and mother suffer from typhus. Decide against return to Kaunus, live in DP camp in Germany. Joins classes organized by the Jewish Brigade from Palestine. Through efforts of family in Israel, she and mother obtain papers for Sweden. Attends Jewish school. Cool reception from the small Jewish community. Get visa to Canada and arrive in Montreal December 11, 1947. After short time chooses not to associate with refugees; wants new beginning.

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