David P. Boder Interviews Helena Neufeld; August 3, 1946; Paris, France



David Boder interviewed Helena Neufeld at an adult home for Jews in Paris on August 3, 1946. Mrs. Neufeld was survivor of the Warsaw ghetto, the notorious Pawiak prison of Warsaw and the infamous Bergen Belsen concentration camp in Germany. Like a number of other survivors, she owed her survival to determination, resourcefulness and luck. Her interview revealed that she possessed both pluck and luck in abundance. As a Polish Jew, Mrs. Neufeld endured six years of Nazi tyranny and brutality. Like so many other survivors, she lost her entire family but not her husband to whom she was married in the Warsaw ghetto. The interview does not reveal how her mother, sister and brother in law with whom she lived in the Warsaw ghetto died. She survived two deportation actions for the ghetto, finally escaping and finding shelter for a time in "Aryan" Warsaw in the winter of 1943. She was in hiding in "Aryan" Warsaw when she witnessed the battle of the Warsaw ghetto. In the summer of 1943, she was captured and sent to Warsaw's Pawiak prison from where she was deported the Bergen Belsen camp. One intriguing question that is not answered is why Mrs. Neufeld and her husband were transferred to one of the satellite camps Bergen Belsen for Poles who possessed immigration papers from other countries and where they were not assigned to work details, which was one reason they were able to survive in Belsen for some twenty months. They were among those evacuated from Belsen in the wake of the advancing English army and were liberated by the Russians in eastern Germany. Mrs. Neufeld's testimony bears witness to the fact that there were courageous non Jewish Poles in Warsaw who were willing to hide Polish Jews. It also conveys some of the horrendous conditions Jews experienced at Bergen Belsen, which is etched in memory as a site of indescribable human suffering.

—Elliot Lefkovitz