David P. Boder Interviews Manis Mizrachi; August 12, 1946; Paris, France

var transcription = { interview: [ David Boder

[In English] This is Spool 9-43B. The interviewee is Mr. Mizrachi and he speaks English. November the 21st 1950. Boder.

David Boder

This is Spool 43 continued. The interviewee is SeÃor Manis Mizrachi or Mr. Manis Mizrachi. Born in Greece, how old are you Mr. Mizrachi?

Manis Mizrachi

I am twenty-four years old.

David Boder

He's twenty-four years old. He speaks good English and we will have his report in English. Also Mr. Mizrachi would you tell us again what is your full name where were you born?

Manis Mizrachi

My name is Mizrachi Mimi I have been born in Salonika.

David Boder

Yes. Your last name is really Mizrachi so we . . .

Manis Mizrachi

. . . Mizrachi, yes.

David Boder

. . . call you in America "Minis Mizrachi."

Manis Mizrachi

. . . Mizrachi, yes

David Boder

You were born where?

Manis Mizrachi

In Salonika, 1922.

David Boder

In 1922, yes.

Manis Mizrachi

The 17th of January.

David Boder

Yeah, and tell me, who were your parents and what was their business.

Manis Mizrachi

My parents - my father was Oscar Mizrachi and he was . . . he sold articles which he brought from every country and he was a representative of several firms.

David Boder

Ah! He was an importer?

Manis Mizrachi

importer yes.

David Boder

Yes, for instance what kind of articles was he selling?

Manis Mizrachi

He was selling clothing and paper, he brought paper and several other things what he could make.

David Boder

Now tell me how many people were in your family?

Manis Mizrachi

We're three people.

David Boder

Yes.

Manis Mizrachi

My father, mother and me.

David Boder

You were the only son?

Manis Mizrachi

The only son.

David Boder

Yes, and now tell me where were you and what happened to your family when the Germans came to Greece?

Manis Mizrachi

Before the Germans came to Greece since my father was a Freemason, we . . . were afraid for the Germans, them not to take him away from us. That for we made it up to go to Athens, the capital of Greece, since it is a very big country so we could . . .

David Boder

[speaking over each other] Big city you mean . . .

Manis Mizrachi

Big city, yes,

David Boder

So you could be better protected . . .

Manis Mizrachi

Better protected.

David Boder

Tell me what citizenship did your father have? Greece or Spanish?

Manis Mizrachi

My father was Spanish

David Boder

And your mother?

Manis Mizrachi

My mother was Turkish.

David Boder

Turkish? And you were considered what?

Manis Mizrachi

I have been considered Spanish.

David Boder

Because your father was Spanish. Have you lived in Spain?

Manis Mizrachi

Never, I have never in Spain.

David Boder

Yes, all right, and so you went to Athens

Manis Mizrachi

And so we went to Athens but anyhow the Germans took us because although the Consul of Spain has certifies us that we have no reason to be afraid that the Germans will take us and but for this obliged us not to leave and not to hide ourselves and so the Germans came one night at two o'clock and got us [the whole family, they beat us firstly] and afterwards they put us into the Greek jail.

David Boder

All right, now . . . Tell me this . . . [mutters] All right, tell me this: Were other Jews then arrested already and deported?

Manis Mizrachi

A lot of Jews, Spanish Jews, were arrested and [spread?] with our family together.

David Boder

Yes, and what was it a kind of a raid at that time or what?

Manis Mizrachi

It was a raid, it was a raid for whole Spanish in order not to leave them the time to hide themselves because one day before they arrested all Greek citizens, Jews of course.

David Boder

They arrested the Greeks citizens that were Jews. And now they began to arrest the Spanish citizens . . . well didn't you show your papers from the Consul?

Manis Mizrachi

We showed our papers from the Consul but it [laughing a little] helped nothing.

David Boder

All right, so then what did they do with the family, go slowly step-by-step.

Manis Mizrachi

Then they put us in cars and brought us in the Greek jail where we were obliged to sleep down without any help . . . they give us no things to eat, nothing. We're made whole day without any thing . . .

David Boder

[interrupting] Was the family together?

Manis Mizrachi

The family was together firstly; afterwards, they ordered us the men to go separately and the women from the other side. So we remained there in the jail about fifteen days and the first of April we were obliged to leave the jail and they put us into trains . . . of beasts.

David Boder

Why do you call it "trains of beasts?" They were . . .

Manis Mizrachi

Because they were closed trains were they are putting the [laughing a little] . . . horses and . . . the pigs

David Boder

. . . the trains with the openings? Because animals they transport . . .

Manis Mizrachi

No, they were closed but they were with wires.

David Boder

[Talking over each other] Where were the wires?

Manis Mizrachi

The wires were at the windows. Little window was there, very high, although they were afraid us not to look from what happened around and so they put us there and they locked us, the door so we couldn't get out for any necessary . . .

David Boder

For any necessary? Were you men and women together . . .

Manis Mizrachi

We were men and women together. Sixty-four people in a wagon, it was very difficult to take air and to eat, we had nothing to eat.

David Boder

Didn't they tell you to take your things?

Manis Mizrachi

No, they didn't give - they gave us only some carrots and bottle of water and place . . .

David Boder

What do you mean a bottle of water for all or what?

Manis Mizrachi

It was . . . two big bottles

David Boder

Two big bottles of water.

Manis Mizrachi

. . . bottles of water.

David Boder

What do you think? How many liters was there in each one?

Manis Mizrachi

Twenty-five liters about.

David Boder

You mean twenty-five liters to the bottle?

Manis Mizrachi

Yes, and it was very hard we couldn't have water enough because we had children with us and we couldn't wash ourselves we were very dirty . . .

David Boder

Yes.

Manis Mizrachi

. . . and after the tenth day of traveling

David Boder

[astonished] . . . wait you mean you were ten days, ten days in the car?

Manis Mizrachi

In all we were fourteen days but after the tenth day they opened - they got out the wires so we could look outwards but we were without shaving ourselves and were like beasts.

David Boder

Now tell me what kind of toilet facilities did you have?

Manis Mizrachi

No one. Every two days they opened us the doors in order to get out things that . . . we couldn't keep anymore in our leavings[?]

David Boder

Did you have a pocket for it?

Manis Mizrachi

No, it was in a piece of papers what they gave us specially for that.

David Boder

And women and men together in this . . .

Manis Mizrachi

Women and men together . . .

David Boder

. . . and children

Manis Mizrachi

. . . it was awful

David Boder

And so?

Manis Mizrachi

And so, until we arrived at six in the morningâsix o'clock in the morning and the town of Celle which is some kilometers far from the camp, real camp of Bergen-Belsen. And so we went there, we were obliged to goâto step seven or eight kilometers.

David Boder

To walk?

Manis Mizrachi

To walk there with our grandfathers, with our fathers, sisters, sick women, with our children and however it was very difficult for us and this one who couldn't walk he was beaten by the Germans, soldiers, by the capos . . . were the leaders.

David Boder

What is capos?

Manis Mizrachi

Capos were the leaders.

David Boder

Were they prisoners?

Manis Mizrachi

They were prisoners but who . . . somewhere . . . collaborated with the Germans together. And they beat us awfully we were not accustomed to this kind of manner and they were laughing at us when we made strange figures.

David Boder

Strange faces you mean?

Manis Mizrachi

Strange faces, yes.

David Boder

And well, and so how long did it last to walk these eight kilometers?

Manis Mizrachi

This eight kilometers took us about . . . one hour and a half.

David Boder

[after a pause] That's very fast walking.

Manis Mizrachi

Yes! We were obliged to run.

David Boder

Well you had no things to carry

Manis Mizrachi

No things to carry, nothing.

David Boder

Well then . . .

Manis Mizrachi

Because we had some things we could keep with us but we were obliged to leave it in the way in order to go very fast because it was a Polish capo behind and he was beating you.

David Boder

A Polish capo?

Manis Mizrachi

A Polish, yes.

David Boder

All right, but you were together with your father and mother?

Manis Mizrachi

No I wasn't even with my father, and my mother had been put in another range [?].

David Boder

Oh, your mother was put in another what?

Manis Mizrachi

In other file.

David Boder

In another file, all right. But she was marching the same way with you?

Manis Mizrachi

Yes, much in the same way.

David Boder

All right.

Manis Mizrachi

Afterwards we went to the camp they . . . were obliged to stay there for l'appel.

David Boder

What is the name of the camp?

Manis Mizrachi

The camp Bergen-Belsen.

David Boder

Yes

Manis Mizrachi

We were obliged to stay there about two hours waiting until the German come and ask our names . . .

David Boder

Yes . . .

Manis Mizrachi

. . . conforming to the list that he could have in Athens when he put us into the train

David Boder

Do you have a tattoo number?

Manis Mizrachi

No, in Bergen-Belsen there was no tattoo number.

David Boder

Yes.

Manis Mizrachi

My account number was one thousand four hundred sixty two.

David Boder

Uh-huh, all right

Manis Mizrachi

. . . It was my account number

David Boder

One thousand . . .

Manis Mizrachi

One thousand four hundred sixty two.

David Boder

..sixty two. And so . . .

Manis Mizrachi

And so we have been put in big barrack . . .

David Boder

You with your father?

Manis Mizrachi

With my father and with my mother in separate barrack. And around us was the wiresâelectric . . .

David Boder

Oh, electric wires. Yes.

Manis Mizrachi

. . . have been charged. And we couldn't go out firstly until the doctor came in order to see whether we're ill or not.

David Boder

Yes.

Manis Mizrachi

And afterwards we could be with our mother and with every friend and so on because of our citizenship.

David Boder

Oh, because you were Spanish.

Manis Mizrachi

Spanish, yes. The only thing which we had. As Spanish people.

David Boder

Yes.

Manis Mizrachi

Of course, firstly we couldn't eat what they gave us. It were carrots in boiled water. This was our eating. And we gave it to other brothers of usâother Jewsâof Greece. And Polish people too who were with us in the camp. And we were obliged after one week to eat because we starved. And so we carried everythingâeverything green that we saw on the earth we took it out from there and we started to eat it without caring if it was dirty or clean.

David Boder

Uh-huh, without cooking?

Manis Mizrachi

Without cooking . . .

David Boder

Yes.

Manis Mizrachi

. . . like beasts.

David Boder

Yes.

Manis Mizrachi

And so they started to put us in this category of prisoners that starved to eat and wore closed and we had no rights to go out - to work - we were obliged to stay.

David Boder

Well, because the Spanish . . .

Manis Mizrachi

Because Spanish citizenship.

David Boder

. . . we were not supposed to work

Manis Mizrachi

We were not supposed to work but this was bad because the others who were out they were working at the transport of food, of legumes . . .

David Boder

Of vegetables.

Manis Mizrachi

Of vegetables. And they could have some profit in taking some of them. But for us it was impossible. And so we were obliged to live on only those things that we received from Germans.

David Boder

Did the Red Cross help in any way.

Manis Mizrachi

We had no help of the Red Cross. Never we got help from the Red Cross. Only our capos they had . . . many profits who unfortunately they put only for themselves and they never helped the others

David Boder

Were the capos Jews?

Manis Mizrachi

They were the Jews with us from Greece they came with us. And they started making friendship with the Polish capos, the old ones who were there and so they had a lot of . . .

David Boder

Polish Jewish?

Manis Mizrachi

Polish Jewish. I speak always from Jewish

David Boder

And so?

Manis Mizrachi

And so they made friendship with them and so they had everything for their own families. They had special room to live and they ate separately. We were not to see what they were eating, we smelled only the meat and everything else that they got . . . from the Germans.

David Boder

From the Germans?

Manis Mizrachi

From the Germans. And, unfortunately, our peopleâthe people who didn't want to beat and to collaborate with the Germansâstarved and had only his home in back.

David Boder

Yes

Manis Mizrachi

This is all [slightly laughing].

David Boder

Well, and that was in . . . Auschwitz?

Manis Mizrachi

That was in Bergen-Belsen.

David Boder

In Bergen-Belsen . . .

Manis Mizrachi

Bergen-Belsen.

David Boder

Well . . . did you hear about . . . All right, so how long were you in Bergen-Belsen?

Manis Mizrachi

I have been there about eighteen monthsâone year and six months.

David Boder

And then, where were you taken from?

Manis Mizrachi

Then I have been takenâwe have been put into a big train in order to be transported to Theresienstadt. In the last daysâtwo days before the English came, the British troops came in Bergen-Belsen.

David Boder

Yes.

Manis Mizrachi

Um, this train was a big train of sixty-four wagons.

David Boder

Yes.

Manis Mizrachi

And have been put in, again in . . . beasts-cars . . .

David Boder

Cattle-wagons?

Manis Mizrachi

Cattle-wagons. Sixty-four to seventy people in a car and started of course many 'spense [?] . . . many sick . . .

David Boder

Many sick people.

Manis Mizrachi

. . . many sick people. We started then with the Typhus.

David Boder

Oh yes.

Manis Mizrachi

It was then when I lost my two parents. Unfortunately, at the last days. I lost themâmy father . . .

David Boder

What do you meanâin Bergen-Belsen?

Manis Mizrachi

In the trainâthe big trainâthey caught there Typhus

David Boder

Oh, in the train. About how many days before liberation?

Manis Mizrachi

The first died . . . at just at the same . . . at the moment of the liberation and my mother which was looking for [after] my father died ten days afterwards . . .

David Boder

After the liberation

Manis Mizrachi

And I got it too . . .

David Boder

You got it?

Manis Mizrachi

. . . because I was obliged to see . . . to look for [after] for my mother.

David Boder

You had to look for your mother, yes? And?

Manis Mizrachi

And so I got it alsoâ"I meant thirty in one days"[?]

David Boder

What typhus was it? Ricket . . . Ricket . . . Spotted typhus?

Manis Mizrachi

Spotted typhus, yes.

David Boder

So then you lost your parents.

David Boder

[speaking over each other] .. of liberation. And you remained alone.

Manis Mizrachi

I remained quite alone without any help. Quite alone.

David Boder

All right, so where did you go then?

Manis Mizrachi

I was student and then the American troops were very kind with usâthey helped us.

David Boder

Well, which camp were you freed or were you freed from the train?

Manis Mizrachi

From the train directly because it was an air attack.

David Boder

Oh, yes.

Manis Mizrachi

Attack of the air force.

David Boder

Yes.

Manis Mizrachi

British Air force.

David Boder

And so?

Manis Mizrachi

And so the machine . . . had been in damage.

David Boder

The, yes, the machine was damaged.

Manis Mizrachi

. . . was damaged.

David Boder

Yes, and the train couldn't continue.

Manis Mizrachi

. . . couldn't continue. And . . . we made some activity there we got prisoners, the Germans, the SS . . .

David Boder

Yes.

Manis Mizrachi

. . . and we waited until the American tanks.

David Boder

. . . came.

Manis Mizrachi

Came. Yes, it was ninth army. The ninth American army.

David Boder

Uh-huh.

Manis Mizrachi

. . . Which liberated us.

David Boder

Yes, so then you took the SS prisoners? Why didn't you kill them?

Manis Mizrachi

[slightly laughing] We had no right to kill them . . .

David Boder

Why?

Manis Mizrachi

Because the caposâthe chiefs . . .

David Boder

Yes.

Manis Mizrachi

. . . who directed this movement told us not to do anything until the American troops arrived.

David Boder

Yes

David Boder

And then what did the Americans do with them?

Manis Mizrachi

The Americans took their arms and they took them away, we don't know what happened.

David Boder

They took them prisoners?

Manis Mizrachi

Prisoners, yes.

David Boder

All right, and then you were in the train,

Manis Mizrachi

And then . . .

David Boder

. . . where were you taken from there?

Manis Mizrachi

And at once, the officers, the American officers went to the villageâthe German village of Farsleben.

David Boder

Yes.

Manis Mizrachi

There. And he gave the order to every person to take us in, to take several families into his house.

David Boder

Yes.

Manis Mizrachi

And so, we got the place for some days.

David Boder

Uh-huh, and who was feeding you?

Manis Mizrachi

The Germans were obliged to feed us.

David Boder

Uh-huh.

Manis Mizrachi

They had a lot to feed us.

David Boder

And what did the Germans then say?

Manis Mizrachi

The Germans said that they never knew every- . . . something that happened to Jews and out of Germany and that they behaved something so ill with the Jews in the concentration camps that they let them starve and that they killed them. They didn't know anything about those things. And whenever they knew, of course, they wouldn't leave it . . . let the Germans . . .

David Boder

[finishing the thought] . . . they wouldn't have let them do such things.

Manis Mizrachi

Yes.

David Boder

Uh-huh and then, where did you go and how did you go?

Manis Mizrachi

Then I was where, I got ill and I went at Hillersleben.

David Boder

Yes

Manis Mizrachi

Hillersleben is not far from them, some ten kilometers.

David Boder

Yes.

Manis Mizrachi

And then I meant the hospital, hospital El Melwani [?] there were three hospitals.

David Boder

Did you get typhus too?

Manis Mizrachi

I got Typhus too.

David Boder

So when they took you from the train did you have typhus already?

Manis Mizrachi

No I didn't have.

David Boder

Oh, you didn't have . . .

Manis Mizrachi

I was looking for [after] my mother.

David Boder

You were taking care of your mother?

Manis Mizrachi

Yes, taking care of her until she died.

David Boder

Yes.

Manis Mizrachi

Afterwards . . .

David Boder

Did you see your father dying?

Manis Mizrachi

I . . . . My father died on my hands.

David Boder

Yes.

Manis Mizrachi

I buried him with two other Jewish comrades.

David Boder

Yes.

Manis Mizrachi

. . . in Farsleben. And my mother died in Hillersleben.

David Boder

Yes.

Manis Mizrachi

They are seven kilometers away. I didn't see my mother died - dead - because I was very ill at this moment. I was with 41.4 Centigrade . . .

David Boder

Temperature. Already with typhus?

Manis Mizrachi

With Typhus yes.

David Boder

And so when the freedom came . . . ?

Manis Mizrachi

When the freedom came, I was quite alone I remained quite alone . . .

David Boder

Did they take you to a hospital?

Manis Mizrachi

Yes.

David Boder

You were taken to a hospital?

Manis Mizrachi

I have been taken to a hospital.

David Boder

. . . and nurse to help?

Manis Mizrachi

Nurse help, German nurse. And they were not bad but they always tried to make sabotage.

David Boder

The Germans?

Manis Mizrachi

The Germans.

David Boder

In what way?

Manis Mizrachi

In what way . . . because they were throwing away the medicaments and whenever we were calling them but they didn't comeâonly when the Brit- [corrects] an American soldier was present.

David Boder

. . . and then he would take . . .

Manis Mizrachi

. . . but not, they never took care of us.

David Boder

All right, and when you got well what happened then?

Manis Mizrachi

Then I took some days in order to get . . . stronger then because I couldn't walk. I had forty-two kilograms.

David Boder

And where did you spend those daysâin the hospital?

Manis Mizrachi

In the hospital.

David Boder

Yes.

Manis Mizrachi

And afterwards I have been taken by the American army and I said that I had parents in France. And that for they brought . . .

David Boder

You said that you had parents in France?

Manis Mizrachi

Yes, I had. I had.

David Boder

Relatives you mean?

Manis Mizrachi

I have relatives, yes. Relatives.

David Boder

Apart from your father and mother.

Manis Mizrachi

Relatives, yes. Relatives in France.

David Boder

And so they took you?

Manis Mizrachi

So they took me here and . . . unfortunately they had been displaced too. Deported and they didn't come back.

David Boder

They did come back?

Manis Mizrachi

They did not come back.

David Boder

So you didn't find relatives?

Manis Mizrachi

I did find. And I remained here.

David Boder

Yes. And for what are you working now?

Manis Mizrachi

Now I am working for the AJDC.

David Boder

For the American join . . .

Manis Mizrachi

[finishing] . . . distribution committee.

David Boder

What are you doing?

Manis Mizrachi

I am in the accounting department.

David Boder

Where did you learn English?

Manis Mizrachi

I learned English alone because I finished the German school . . .

David Boder

Where? Greece?

Manis Mizrachi

In Salonika, yes.

David Boder

You finished the German school where you learned Greek [corrects] where you learned English?

Manis Mizrachi

German. German and French and since I liked very much to learn English I learned it quite alone.

David Boder

with . . . [speaking over each other]

Manis Mizrachi

Just alone, myself.

David Boder

By which method? Shocked that haven't got a better [ununintelligible] that you had to go to school?

Manis Mizrachi

No, I learned it quite alone. There was a friend of mine who went to the school . . . and I learned . . .

David Boder

And learned it alone. Now what do you plan to do in the future?

Manis Mizrachi

I am studying now; I am studying radio.

David Boder

Where, at the ORT?

Manis Mizrachi

No, quite alone, I am training myself.

David Boder

All right.

David Boder

You are studying radio and then you want to do what?

Manis Mizrachi

Then I hope to work in radio..

David Boder

Where?

Manis Mizrachi

I don't know yet, perhaps I can go to the country I would be very satisfied.

David Boder

Which country?

Manis Mizrachi

I don't know where to . . . the States? [Break in tape]

David Boder

. . . relatives in America?

Manis Mizrachi

. . . unfortunately, I have no one.

David Boder

You have no one.

Manis Mizrachi

No one.

David Boder

. . . Well this concludes Mr. .Mizrachi's report. Taken on the- . . . on August the 12th at the offices of the American Joint Distribution Committee . . . recording of the Illinois Institute of Technology.