David P. Boder Interviews Nino Barzilai; August 04, 1946; Paris, France

var transcription = { interview: [ David Boder

[In English] Chicago, June the 26th, 1950. This is Spool 9-21B, the second half of Spool 9-21. The first half is Dr. Lipschitz which we called 9-21A, the second is Mr. Nino Barzilai which we call 9-21B.

David Boder

[In Spanish] [Ininteligible] Ud. habla aquà en esta direcciÃn . . .

David Boder

[In English] Paris, August 4th, Sunday, in the home for adult Jews. We are now going to interview a gentleman from Greece, SeÃor Nino Barzilai . . . who speaks Spanish.

David Boder

[In Spanish] Sr. Barzilai, dÃgame, Âestà Ud. nacido en Grecia?

Nino Barzilai

SÃ seÃor, yo he nacido en Thessaloniki, en Grecia..

David Boder

SÃ, Ây cuÃntos aÃos tiene Ud. ahora?

Nino Barzilai

54 aÃos.

David Boder

Tiene Ud. 54 aÃos, Âno parece Ud. tan . . . de tan edad! . . . dÃgame, entonces . . . Ây vivÃa Ud. es Grecia todo el tiempo?

Nino Barzilai

No seÃor, yo vivÃa en EspaÃa, durante 20 aÃos y al declararse la guerra civil de EspaÃa, he vuelto a Grecia dÃnde tenÃa familia.

David Boder

ÂEs Ud. casado?

Nino Barzilai

SÃ seÃor, tengo un hijo de 15 aÃos.

David Boder

ÂY su esposa?

Nino Barzilai

Y mi esposa tambiÃn està aquà conmigo.

David Boder

EstÃn aquà con Ud.; pues entonces seÃor, comience Ud. a decirnos . . . Âcomo pasà . . . la situaciÃn de ocupaciÃn de Grecia por los alemanes?

Nino Barzilai

Pues . . . mire Ud . . . hemos vuelto a Grecia como le he dicho, como tenÃamos familia, a que acabara la guerra civil de EspaÃa y volver a nuestro sitio. Al llegar a Grecia, nos sorprendià la guerra Ãtalo-griega y, naturalmente, no hubo ocasiÃn para volver a EspaÃa sea porque las comunicaciones estaban interrumpidas, sea porque la guerra civil duraba todavÃa en EspaÃa.

David Boder

ÂY quà es su ocupaciÃn Sr. Barzilai?

Nino Barzilai

En Grecia, yo me ocupà de la venta de tejidos para trajes de seÃora. Estaba muy bien establecido, tenÃa mi despacho . . .

David Boder

En Grecia.

Nino Barzilai

En Grecia, en Atenas, cerca la [ininteligible].

David Boder

ÂY quà hacÃa Ud. en EspaÃa?

Nino Barzilai

En EspaÃa yo me ocupaba de la bijouterie.

David Boder

Entonces se regresà Ud. a Grecia, Ây ya estaban los alemanes ahÃ?

Nino Barzilai

Cuando regresà a Grecia los alemanes todavÃa no habÃan llegado.

David Boder

Y Bueno . . .

Nino Barzilai

DespuÃs cuando empezà la guerra italiana . . . Italia con Grecia, entonces, cuando pasà un poco de tiempo que volvieron los alemanes y entraron en Grecia; nosotros marchamos de SalÃnica para Atenas y nos establecimos en Atenas. Allà tenÃa un buen negocio como le he dicho, y cuando llegaron los alemanes, si hubo un anuncio en los periÃdicos, que todos los judÃos debÃan de presentarse . . . como sÃbdito extranjero portuguÃs, me he presentado tambiÃn a . . .

David Boder

ÂEs Ud. portuguÃs?

Nino Barzilai

SÃ seÃor.

David Boder

ÂNacià Ud. en Portugal?

Nino Barzilai

No seÃor, soy de [ininteligible] mi familia era de [ininteligible] . . . entonces como . . . me presentà como portuguÃs a las autoridades alemanas, con documentaciÃn portuguesa; como el gran rabino de Atenas era un pariente mÃo y por casualidad llevaba el mismo nombre que mi padre, los alemanes me lo tuvieron como hijo del gran rabino: me han puesto en un campo de concentraciÃn en HaÃdari, Atenas, dÃnde pasà 5 meses y medio a trabajos forzados.

David Boder

ÂQuà clase de trabajo hacÃan allà en el campo de concentraciÃn?

Nino Barzilai

Nos daban a transportar piedras todo el dÃa, y arena, de un sitio a otro, un trabajo bastante duro donde nos castigaban mucho y nos pegaban.

David Boder

ÂY quà hacÃan con la arena?

Nino Barzilai

Era un trabajo que ellos habÃan hecho inventar para poder trabajar, para poder cansarnos, porque transportÃbamos las piedras de un sitio a otro y al otro dÃa nos hacÃan volver las mismas piedras al mismo sitio. No habÃa ni trabajos de fortificaciÃn ni trabajos de nada, solamente este transporte que nos hacÃan trabajar todos los dÃas [ininteligible].

David Boder

ContinÃe Ud. seÃor, la recepciÃn es buena

Nino Barzilai

DespuÃs de estar 5 meses y medio en el campo de concentraciÃn de HaÃdari, llegà el dÃa dÃnde recogieron a todos los judÃos de Atenas y los trajeron a todos en el mismo campo de concentraciÃn. Allà estuvimos . . . unos ocho dÃas juntos, todos los judÃos, que han llegado de Atenas.

David Boder

TodavÃa en Grecia.

Nino Barzilai

En Grecia, sÃ. Y llegà el dÃa de la deportaciÃn. Ese dÃa de la deportaciÃn, a las cuatro de la maÃana, nos han despertado y nos han dado diez minutos para estar prontos para marchar..

David Boder

ÂCuÃnta gente cree que estuvo ahÃ?

Nino Barzilai

Allà creo que habÃa cerca de dos mil.

David Boder

Dos mil, judÃos. Mirà Ud. Sr. Barzilai no tenemos la costumbre de hablar en esta investigaciÃn de mem . . . de papel, pero cÃmo Ud. tiene aquà el memorÃndum sobre los judÃos en Grecia y no sabemos mucho de esto, vamos a hacer una excepciÃn que lea Ud. el memorÃndum que Ud. tiene aquÃ.

Nino Barzilai

Y dÃjeme decirle en todo caso, que nosotros con el convoi que se formà para marchar en Polonia, sacaron a los sÃbditos extranjeros y nos han puesto en un convoi separado. Quiere decir los sÃbditos argentinos quedaron en el mismo campo de HaÃdari, los sÃbditos espaÃoles y portugueses nos han puesto en un tren separado, diciendo que Ãbamos a marchar para EspaÃa y Portugal en un intervalo de 12 dÃas. DespuÃs de viajar 8 dÃas con el treno hasta llegar en Alemania, vinimos al campo de Bergen-Belsen y allà nos detuvieron hasta 14 meses.

David Boder

En Bergen-Belsen.

Nino Barzilai

En Bergen-Belsen, Alemania. Y de allà . . . cuando los ingleses, que estaban cerca de BerlÃn, vea Ud., nos han puesto en un treno y nos han dirigido a BÃrgermoor. Allà quedamos con el treno una noche.

David Boder

ÂY dÃnde estaba su esposa y su hijo?

Nino Barzilai

Mi esposa y mi hijo, los encontrà en el treno cuando Ãbamos para Alemania, para Bergen-Belsen.

David Boder

SÃ.

Nino Barzilai

Los alemanes nos trajeron a la estaciÃn del treno y allà partimos juntos con el convoi de los espaÃoles y portugueses.

David Boder

SÃ.

Nino Barzilai

Y estuvimos juntos en Bergen-Belsen con mi seÃora y mi hijo.

David Boder

ÂEn el mismo block, en el mismo . . . ?

Nino Barzilai

En el mismo campo, en diferentes barracas.

David Boder

SÃ.

Nino Barzilai

Las mujeres separadas, y los hombres separados.

David Boder

SÃ.

Nino Barzilai

Allà estuvimos como le he dicho 14 meses. Cuando nos han puesto en el treno para marchar, que nos han dicho que Ãbamos a EspaÃa, vinimos hasta BÃrgermoor. Allà hubo un par de bombardeos de la parte de los americanos, durà bastante fuerte toda la noche, por la maÃana despertamos, vimos que los alemanes habÃan abandonado el treno; y quedamos solos allà en un campo . . . abandonados completamente. Marchamos unos cuantos para salir cerca . . . de unas casas alemanas para ver lo que se pasaba. Entonces fuimos a buscar un poco de comida porque nosotros no cocinÃbamos nada, lo poco que nos dieron para el viaje se habÃa acabado. Y encontramos unas cuantas patatas que nos han dado desde allÃ, hemos vuelto al treno e hicimos bouillir esas patatas para poder comer alguna cosa. Mientras tanto, voces corrieron que los americanos habÃan llegado. Y poco tiempo despuÃs, fue con tanto jÃbilo y tanta alegrÃa que recibimos a los americanos que vinieron a [ininteligible]. Su primera preocupaciÃn fue darnos algo caliente de comer, nos han traÃdo una sopa que nos han servido en el treno mismo y, despuÃs de un dÃa, nos han dicho que nos iban a trasladar. Nos avisaron que nos debÃamos de reunir todos en la plaza del pueblo para poder marchar todos juntos en unas casas que nos habÃan preparado para estar, hasta que marchÃramos todos . . . [Ininteligible]

David Boder

ÂQuà hacÃan los 14 meses en Bergen-Belsen?

Nino Barzilai

Nosotros como sÃbditos extranjeros no trabajÃbamos, estÃbamos encerrados en las barracas, encerrados allÃ.

David Boder

ÂY no vinieron . . . los espaÃoles o alguien de . . . cerca de EspaÃa . . . o de [ininteligible]?

Nino Barzilai

Nadie, nadie hizo nada por nosotros. Se escribieron muchas cartas y ninguna contestaciÃn ha llegado.

David Boder

ÂFueron Uds. solamente judÃos?

Nino Barzilai

Todos judÃos.

David Boder

Todos judÃos.

Nino Barzilai

En el mismo campo de Bergen-Belsen juntÃbamos nosotros, sÃbditos argentinos y sÃbditos turcos. Los sÃbditos turcos antes de marchar nosotros, habÃan marchado ya, ocho dÃas antes que nosotros fueron liberados. Eso lo aprendimos despuÃs, al salir nosotros.

David Boder

ÂLiberados por quiÃn?

Nino Barzilai

Se dice que los acompaÃaron hasta la frontera suiza y que allà el consulado se encargà de ellos.

David Boder

Bueno, entonces diga Ud. ahora, vamos a ver que . . . dÃgame . . .

Nino Barzilai

Como le he dicho, que despuÃs que fuimos liberados por los americanos, los americanos nos han enviado a Francia . . . hemos, la primera estaciÃn de Francia que hemos hecho fue . . . [InterrupciÃn, no audio]

David Boder

No, no . . . it will be good, wherever . . . ÂY despuÃs? [Ininteligible] No, està bien.

Nino Barzilai

No recuerdo bien. Nos han dirigido verso ParÃs y todos los dÃportÃes que hemos llegado a ParÃs somos altamente reconocientes al gobierno francÃs y al pueblo francÃs en general por el apoyo favorable que nos dan ellos. Nos han dado todas las facilidades, nos han vestido a todos, que estÃbamos todos descalzados y desnudos, y nos han dado la buena comida que no olvidaremos nunca lo que la Francia ha hecho por todos los deportados.

David Boder

Aja. ÂY ahora quà està Ud. haciendo seÃor?

Nino Barzilai

Nosotros estamos todavÃa en el centre de accueil de la calle [ininteligible], todavÃa no hemos encontrado ninguna casa para podernos establecer. Mi hijo lo he puesto en una escuela francesa dÃnde està aprendiendo un oficio.

David Boder

ÂQuà oficio està aprendiendo?

Nino Barzilai

EbanisterÃa.

David Boder

Aja. EbanisterÃa.

Nino Barzilai

Yo como tengo tambiÃn el oficio de electricista, me han conseguido la casa del trabajo.

David Boder

Le han conseguido.

Nino Barzilai

SÃ, si . . . y poco a poco estoy empezando a trabajar. Y creemos que podemos quedar aquà en Francia, por la zona.

David Boder

Y establecerse.

Nino Barzilai

Y establecernos. Aquà llevo una lista que serà muy interesante para todos los judÃos de Grecia que se encuentran en el extranjero. Una lista de los pocos judÃos que volvieron a Grecia, de cada provincia en provincia de Grecia, con sus habitantes antes de la guerra, y los que quedaron y volvieron.

David Boder

Bueno.

Nino Barzilai

En la provincia de Didimoticho eran 900 judÃos, hoy han vuelto 33, se han perdido 96 por ciento; en la aldea Orestiada [InterrupciÃn, no audio] . . . han vuelto 3, 98 por ciento; Alexandroupolis, 140 judÃos, 97 por ciento; Komotini, 819, han vuelto 28, 96%; Xanthi, 550, han vuelto 6, 99%, Macedonia, en Kavala, 2.100 judÃos, han vuelto 42, 98% de perdida; en Drama, 1.200, han vuelto 79, 97%; [ininteligible] 600, no han vuelto mÃs que 3, 98%; Tessaloniki, la gran comunidad judÃa, 56.000, han vuelto 1.950, 96%.

David Boder

96% Âperdidos?

Nino Barzilai

Perdidos, sà seÃor. Veroia, 460 judÃos, han vuelto 131 . . .

David Boder

Bueno seÃor . . .

Nino Barzilai

32%.

David Boder

ÂUd. puede darme una copia de ese papel o a dÃnde se lo pedimos?

Nino Barzilai

Con mucho placer, sà seÃor.

David Boder

Bueno.

Nino Barzilai

Yo le darà la copia. Continuaremos . . . [Ininteligible].

David Boder

[Ininteligible]

Nino Barzilai

Kastoria, 900 judÃos, 35 han vuelto, 96% de pÃrdida; Florina, 400 judÃos, 74 han vuelto, 84%; Thessalia, 520, 360, 31% . . .

David Boder

Bueno seÃor, [ininteligible] si Ud. me da la copia. Entonces seÃor . . . le agradezco mucho por su informaciÃn y especialmente [ininteligible] porque yo intento de irme a MÃxico y un reporte . . . [extremos precipitadamente]

var english_translation = { interview: [ David Boder

[In English] Chicago, June the 26th, 1950. This is Spool 9-21B, the second half of Spool 9-21. The first half is Dr. Lipschitz which we called 9-21A, the second is Mr. Nino Barzilai which we call 9-21B.

David Boder

[In Spanish] You have to speak in this direction . . .

David Boder

[In English] Paris, August the 4th, Sunday, in the home for adult Jews. We are now going to interview a gentleman from Greece, SeÃor Nino Barzilai . . . who speaks Spanish.

David Boder

[In Spanish] Mr. Barzilai, can you tell me if you were born in Greece?

Nino Barzilai

Yes, Sir. I was born in Thessaloniki, Greece.

David Boder

How old are you now?

Nino Barzilai

Fifty-four years old.

David Boder

Oh, you are fifty-four! You don't look . . . you don't seem that age! So, tell me . . . have you always lived in Greece?

Nino Barzilai

No, Sir. I lived in Spain for twenty years. When the war was declared, the Spanish Civil War, I came back to Greece where I had my family.

David Boder

Are you married?

Nino Barzilai

Yes, sir. I have a fifteen-year-old son.

David Boder

What about your wife?

Nino Barzilai

My wife is also here with me.

David Boder

They are here with you. So, please tell us . . . how were you affected by the occupation of Greece by Germans?

Nino Barzilai

Well . . . you see . . . as I have told you, we came back to Greece because we had some relatives, and we were going to wait till the end of the Spanish Civil War to come back to our place. When we arrived in Greece, the Italian-Greek War started and, naturally, we had no chance of coming back to Spain, either because communications had been interrupted or because the Civil War had not come to an end in Spain.

David Boder

And what did you do for a living, Mr. Barzilai?

Nino Barzilai

In Greece, I sold fabrics for women's garments. I was well established . . . I had my own office . . .

David Boder

In Greece.

Nino Barzilai

In Greece, Athens, near [unintelligible].

David Boder

And what did you do in Spain?

Nino Barzilai

In Spain I was in the business of bijouterie.

David Boder

So, you came back to Greece. Were the Germans already there?

Nino Barzilai

When I came back to Greece, the Germans had not invaded yet.

David Boder

OK, then . . .

Nino Barzilai

Later, the Italian War started . . . Italy and Greece, and then, after some time, the Germans came and occupied Greece. We left Salonica, and moved to Athens, where we settled. As I told you, I had a nice business there, but when the Germans came, they published an announcement in the newspapers: all Jews were summoned and they had to present themselves as Portuguese foreign subjects, so I had to do it . . .

David Boder

Are you Portuguese?

Nino Barzilai

Yes, I am.

David Boder

Were you born in Portugal?

Nino Barzilai

No, Sir. I am [unintelligible] my family was from [unintelligible] . . . so . . . I presented myself to the German authorities as Portuguese, with Portuguese documents. And since the Chief Rabbi was a relative of mine and happened to have the same name as my father, the Germans took me for the Rabbi's son. They sent me to a concentration camp in Haidari, Athens, where I spent five and a half months doing forced labor.

David Boder

What kind of labor did you do at the concentration camp?

Nino Barzilai

We had to move stones and sand during the whole day, from one place to another. It was hard and we were hit and punished a lot.

David Boder

What did you do with the sand?

Nino Barzilai

They "invented" this labor for us to work, to make us feel tired, because we transported stones from one place to another, and the following day, we would move the same stones back to their original place. We were not working on the fortification nor doing any other tasks, we just carried stones and they made us work every day [unintelligible].

David Boder

You can continue, we have good reception.

Nino Barzilai

After more than five and a half months in the Haidari concentration camp, all Jews from Athens were brought to the same camp. We were together . . . for about eight days . . . all Jews coming from Athens.

David Boder

Still in Greece?

Nino Barzilai

Yes. In Greece. And the day of our deportation came . . . we were woken up at four in the morning and we were given ten minutes to get ready to depart.

David Boder

How many people do you think there were in that camp?

Nino Barzilai

I think there were around two thousand people.

David Boder

Two thousand Jews. Look Mr. Barzilai, in this research, we usually do not speak about the memâ . . . about papers, but since you have the memorandum about Jews in Greece and we do not know much about this, we are going to make an exception and I will ask you to read the memorandum you have here.

Nino Barzilai

Allow me to tell you that in the convoy that was sent to Poland all foreign subjects were included and we were sent in a separate convoy. This means the Argentine subjects stayed in the Haidari camp while the Spanish and Portuguese subjects were placed on a separate train, telling us we would be sent to Spain and Portugal in a period of 12 days. After having traveled for 8 days by train, we arrived in Germany, we were taken to Bergen-Belsen camp where we were held for 14 months.

David Boder

In Bergen-Belsen.

Nino Barzilai

In Bergen-Belsen, Germany. And from there . . . when the English were near Berlin, we were taken on another train to BÃrgermoor. We stayed there, on a train, for one night.

David Boder

Where were your wife and your son?

Nino Barzilai

I found my wife and my son on the train that was taking us to Germany, to Bergen-Belsen.

David Boder

All right.

Nino Barzilai

The Germans took us to the train station, and from there we departed on a joint convoy both Spaniards and Portuguese.

David Boder

OK.

Nino Barzilai

And, I was together with my wife and my son in Bergen-Belsen.

David Boder

Were you in the same block?

Nino Barzilai

We were in the same camp, but in different barracks.

David Boder

I see.

Nino Barzilai

Women and men were separate.

David Boder

I see.

Nino Barzilai

As I told you, we were there for 14 months and we were placed on a train and we were told we were to be taken to Spain, but we came to BÃrgermoor. There, there were a number of bombings by Americans, that lasted for a whole night. In the morning, when we woke up, we noticed the Germans had left the train and we had been left on our own in the camp . . . completely abandoned. A number of us marched to some nearby German houses to see what was going on. We were looking for some food, because we did not cook, and we had eaten all the food we had been given for the journey. We found some potatoes and we came back to the train where we boiled them to eat something. Meanwhile, there was a rumor that the Americans had arrived. And some time later, we happily received the Americans who had come to [unintelligible]. Their first concern was to give us something hot to eat, and we were served a soup right there on the train. After a day, we were told we were going to be transported to another place. We were told to gather in the park of the town to march together to some houses they had prepared for us to stay in. So we all marched . . . [unintelligible]

David Boder

What did you do during those 14 months in Bergen-Belsen?

Nino Barzilai

We, as foreign subjects, did not work. We were locked in the barracks.

David Boder

Didn't the Spaniards . . . or somebody from the neighboring areas come . . . or from . . . [unintelligible]?

Nino Barzilai

Nobody. Nobody did anything for us. Many letters were written but there were no replies.

David Boder

Were there only Jews?

Nino Barzilai

All of us were Jews.

David Boder

All Jews . . .

Nino Barzilai

In Bergen-Belsen we were together with Argentine subjects, Turkish subjects. Before we left, the Turkish subjects had been freed. They were freed eight days before us. We learnt about it some days later, when we left.

David Boder

Who freed them?

Nino Barzilai

It was said they had been escorted to the Swiss border, and there, the Consulate took care of them.

David Boder

OK. Then, tell me . . . well . . . tell me . . .

Nino Barzilai

As I have told you, after being freed by Americans, we were sent to France . . . the first French station we reached was . . . [audio interruption]

David Boder

No, no . . . it will be good, wherever . . . What happened then? [unintelligible] Don't worry, it is just fine.

Nino Barzilai

I really can't remember. We were taken directly to Paris and all those who had been deported reached Paris very thankful to the French government and to the French people in general because of the support they offered us. We were given everything we needed, they dressed us, because we were almost naked and barefoot, we were given great food and none of us will ever forget what France did for us.

David Boder

Good. And what are you doing now, Sir?

Nino Barzilai

We are still in the center located on [unintelligible] Street. We still have not found a house to settle. My son is learning a trade in the French school.

David Boder

What trade is he learning?

Nino Barzilai

Woodworking.

David Boder

Oh, woodworking.

Nino Barzilai

As I am an electrician, I have been given a job.

David Boder

So you are working.

Nino Barzilai

Well, I will soon start to work. We believe we can stay here in France, in this area.

David Boder

To settle here.

Nino Barzilai

Yes. To settle here. I have a list that will be of great interest to all Jews from Greece who are still abroad. It is a list of the few Jews that returned to Greece in each Greek province. It includes the inhabitants before the war, and the ones left or those who returned.

David Boder

Good.

Nino Barzilai

In the Province of Didymoteicho, there were 900 Jews, and 33 have returned to this date, so 96% are missing. In Orestiada town [audio interruption] . . . 3 have returned, 98% are still missing. In Alexandroupoli, 140 Jews, 97% are missing; in Komotini, there were 819, 28 have returned, 96% missing; in Xanthi, 550, 6 have returned, 99% are missing; in Macedonia, in Kavala, there were 2,100 Jews, 42 have returned, 98% are missing; in Drama, 1,200, 79 have returned, 97% missing; [unintelligible] 600, only 3 have returned, 98% missing; in Thessaloniki, the great Jewish community, there were 56,000, 1,950 have returned, 96% are missing.

David Boder

96% missing?

Nino Barzilai

Missing, Sir. Veroia, 460 Jews, 131 have returned . . .

David Boder

Well, Sir . . .

Nino Barzilai

32%.

David Boder

Can you give me a copy of this document or can we get it somewhere?

Nino Barzilai

I will be pleased to give it to you, Sir.

David Boder

All right.

Nino Barzilai

I will give you the copy. Let's continue . . . [unintelligible].

David Boder

[unintelligible]

Nino Barzilai

Kastoria, 900 Jews, 35 have returned, 96% missing; Florina, 400 Jews, 74 have returned, 84%; Thessalia, 520, 360, 31% . . .

David Boder

Well, Sir, [unintelligible] if you give me the copy. Then, Sir . . . I thank you for this information and particularly [unintelligible], because I am trying to go to Mexico, and a report . . . [ends abruptly]