David P. Boder Interviews Jola Gross; August 3, 1946; Paris, France

  • David Boder: [In English] Taken at a Home... for adult...
  • David Boder: [In German] What is the name of this street? Rue de?
  • Jola Gross: Rue de Patin.
  • David Boder: [In English] Rue Patin. On Rue Neuf... Number 9 Rue Patin. There are mostly elderly or grown up people, who have been in various concentration camps and are now waiting for... to go either to Palestine or to the United States. Most of them cannot work, they are not French citizens and have no opportunity to do some work.
  • David Boder: [In German] And so tell me again, what is your name? You say Mrs. Gross.
  • Jola Gross: Gross. Miss Gross.
  • David Boder: Miss Gross.
  • Jola Gross: Miss.
  • David Boder: And what is your first name, Miss Gross?
  • Jola Gross: Yetta.
  • David Boder: What?
  • Jola Gross: Jola.
  • David Boder: Jola.
  • Jola Gross: Yes.
  • David Boder: Your first name is Jola...
  • Jola Gross: Gross.
  • David Boder: Gross, yes. Jola Gross. And how old are you, Miss Gross?
  • Jola Gross: How old? Thirty-six years.
  • David Boder: You are thirty-six years old.
  • Jola Gross: Yes.
  • David Boder: And where were you born?
  • Jola Gross: In Niznii Verezky. [?].
  • David Boder: Niznii Verezky [?].
  • Jola Gross: Yes.
  • David Boder: Where is Niznii Verezky [?/?
  • Jola Gross: It is... it is in the Carpathians.
  • David Boder: In... oh, it is in the Carpathians.
  • Jola Gross: Yes.
  • David Boder: What was it, Czechoslovakia?
  • Jola Gross: Czechoslovakia.
  • David Boder: And so, it was in Czechoslovakia.
  • Jola Gross: Yes.
  • David Boder: Nu, tell me, Miss Gross, where were you when the war started, and what happened to you when the war started?
  • Jola Gross: At that time the Hungarians were there. They also did not behave well.
  • David Boder: What?
  • Jola Gross: [Pause.]
  • David Boder: Go on. Nu?
  • Jola Gross: Yes.
  • David Boder: And? When...
  • Jola Gross: Then we were... in 1944 we were deported.
  • David Boder: Let us wait. When did the war start in your place?
  • Jola Gross: In the year '39.
  • David Boder: The war started in the year '39.
  • Jola Gross: In '39.
  • David Boder: And what happened to you then?
  • Jola Gross: We were still at home, but life was hard, and that is the... nothing else of importance...
  • David Boder: Yes. And everything went thus till when?
  • Jola Gross: Till the year '44.
  • David Boder: Till...
  • Jola Gross: Till we were taken to Auschwitz.
  • David Boder: Yes. And so tell me what happened before you were taken to Auschwitz.
  • Jola Gross: We were all gathered, the whole family, and we were taken to an assembly lager [depot].
  • David Boder: yes.
  • Jola Gross: There we were, four weeks...
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Jola Gross: ... in the assembly lager, and then we were shipped to Auschwitz.
  • David Boder: Aha. You are [ascertaining] Miss Gross?
  • Jola Gross: Yes.
  • David Boder: Yes. Tell me, Mrs. Gross, you have a tattoo on you arm.
  • Jola Gross: Yes.
  • David Boder: Where [what] is it?
  • Jola Gross: 7768.
  • David Boder: [In English:] She carries a tattoo, A-7768. [In German:] Will it disappear, the tattoo?
  • Jola Gross: No.
  • David Boder: It cannot disappear?
  • Jola Gross: No.
  • David Boder: Where were you tattooed?
  • Jola Gross: In Auschwitz.
  • David Boder: Oh, you were first... and so let us go on. you were in an assembly lager...
  • Jola Gross: Yes.
  • David Boder: ... four weeks, and then what was... how did you live there in that assembly lager?
  • Jola Gross: In the assembly lager life was also very hard. Every day the... the SS men were beating us. And one was also killed, but.... We were there four weeks, and then we were gathered together, three thousand, and we were embarked into RR-cars. We were eighty-four persons to a RR-car, and we were transported farther.
  • David Boder: All right. Wait please. And so, in Auschwitz, were men and women taken?
  • David Boder: What?
  • Jola Gross: Apart.
  • David Boder: What does it mean, apart?
  • Jola Gross: Apart, the men and women.
  • David Boder: First men and and [then] the women?
  • Jola Gross: The women, yes.
  • David Boder: And what was done with the children?
  • Jola Gross: It was thus. We arrived in Auschwitz [word not clear].
  • David Boder: No. First about the assembly lager.
  • Jola Gross: In the assembly lager we were together.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: Women and children.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: We were together with the parents. And in the RR-cars we were also together, because we were loaded together in the wagons.
  • David Boder: Yes. And so how did you live in Auschwitz? In a block? In barracks?
  • Jola Gross: In Auschwitz when we had...
  • David Boder: No, no, no. Excuse me. In that other lager, in the assembly lager. How did you live there?
  • Jola Gross: In the first lager...
  • David Boder: Yes, yes.
  • Jola Gross: In the assembly lager...
  • David Boder: Yes. How did you live there?
  • Jola Gross: Nu, we had there.... First we were still living... because from that town, Munkacs, the... the [local] people had not been taken yet.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Jola Gross: They sent us in some food.
  • David Boder: Oh, those people...
  • Jola Gross: The Jewish Council...
  • David Boder: The Jewish Council...
  • Jola Gross: ... sent us in...
  • David Boder: ... sent you in some food.
  • Jola Gross: ... some food.
  • David Boder: Where was that assembly lager?
  • Jola Gross: In Munkacs [Mukachevo].
  • David Boder: In Munkacs.
  • Jola Gross: Munkacs.
  • David Boder: Munkacs.
  • Jola Gross: Munkacs.
  • David Boder: Did you work in that assembly lager?
  • Jola Gross: No, no. There... there people...
  • David Boder: And how did you sleep, the women apart and the...
  • Jola Gross: On... on the floor.
  • David Boder: Yes, but apart, the women and the men apart?
  • Jola Gross: No, families were together.
  • David Boder: Famies were together with the children.
  • Jola Gross: Yes.
  • David Boder: Nu, yes. And what did you do all day?
  • Jola Gross: Do? The men went to work and others... but it only lasted four weeks.
  • David Boder: Yes. And?
  • Jola Gross: Then we...
  • David Boder: What did hou say? Who had been beaten there? Who had been killed there?
  • Jola Gross: A Jew.
  • David Boder: A Jew.
  • Jola Gross: Yes.
  • David Boder: And why was he killed?
  • Jola Gross: Because in the morning he got out of... of the barrack, and... and they did no know who he was, and he was killed.
  • David Boder: Was he shot?
  • Jola Gross: Shot.
  • David Boder: Yes. Nu? Go on.
  • Jola Gross: [Pause.]
  • David Boder: And then you were loaded in wagons?
  • Jola Gross: Loaded on wagons.
  • David Boder: Families together?
  • Jola Gross: Yes, families together. It was on the 15th of May in the year '44.
  • David Boder: Yes. And?
  • Jola Gross: And we were... and on the 18th of May we [came] to Auschwitz.
  • David Boder: How long did the journey take?
  • Jola Gross: From the 15th to the 18th.
  • David Boder: From the 15th till the 18th...
  • Jola Gross: 18th.
  • David Boder: ... of May...
  • Jola Gross: Of May, yes.
  • David Boder: ... you were en route. Were you fed on... given anything to eat on the road?
  • Jola Gross: No, no. We had taken along...
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Jola Gross: We had taken food along. And water we received very little. And early in the morning I asked for water...
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: ... through the window. Says he, 'You will soon be unloaded.'
  • David Boder: Yes. What was there, a window in the wagon? Then it was...
  • Jola Gross: It was such a tiny window...
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: ... there was...
  • David Boder: What was it, a passenger RR-car?
  • Jola Gross: Yes, a passenger wagon [she apparently misunderstood the question]. Eighty-four we were.
  • David Boder: Yes. Was there a toilet in the wagon?
  • Jola Gross: No.
  • David Boder: No. So how did people...
  • Jola Gross: Very difficult. Children... and it was very difficult. We tossed it through the window...
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: ... in a ... in a thing we had it...
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: ... we had such a thing [bucket?].
  • David Boder: Yes. Nu?
  • Jola Gross: And then on the morning of the 18th we were unloaded.
  • David Boder: yes?
  • Jola Gross: We didn't know where we were, because we had stopped between two wagons [trains?], and when the wagon was opened the striped men have...
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: ... opened the wagons, and have...
  • David Boder: Who were the striped men?
  • Jola Gross: They were already prisoners.
  • David Boder: Prisoners.
  • Jola Gross: Also Jews, prisoners.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: And they said, 'You leave your bundles and come down,' and we asked [?], 'What... what... what will be here?' 'Don't ask, and leave your bundles. You don't need any bundles.' And we were taken down. We ask, 'Don't you know what is going to be done with us here?' So the gentleman, the prisoner says, 'Oi wei [oh, woe]. What will be done with you here' [in a wailing voice]. So one woman says, 'Should we... may we say Shema Israel?' [Listen Israel, the first words of a universal, basic prayer used under conditions of anguish and distress.' He says, 'Oi wei [oh, woe]! I, too, have left here my wife and child.' [In a lower voice:] People started to cry.
  • David Boder: Speak louder. People started to cry.
  • Jola Gross: Yes.
  • David Boder: And so, go on.
  • Jola Gross: And then it was said that men should go separately and the women separately in rows of five. We arranged ourselves in rows of five, and we went separately. At the end of the wagon... at the end of the train there were standing two or three SS men. Among them was one Doctor Mengele.
  • David Boder: Who was that Doctor?
  • Jola Gross: Doctor Mengele.
  • David Boder: A German?
  • Jola Gross: A German SS man.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Jola Gross: He was at the end, and he said one [some] should go here, right, and the others should go [to the] left.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: We didn't know what it means, right and what is left. He sent some here and some to the other side.
  • David Boder: Yes. Nu?
  • Jola Gross: And we went on.
  • David Boder: And where did the children remain?
  • Jola Gross: They also went left with the mothers.
  • David Boder: The children went left.
  • Jola Gross: Left, with the mother. Also the weak and the old...
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Jola Gross: ... went left. Labor forces [those fit to work] went right, and we went on...
  • David Boder: And where did you go?
  • Jola Gross: Right.
  • David Boder: Right. Why?
  • Jola Gross: Because, as labor force.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: He assigned me.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: 'Right. Go!'
  • David Boder: Nu? And so you went right. What happened then?
  • Jola Gross: We went to bathe.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Jola Gross: It was written all over, 'Desinfektion,' that we are going to be disinfected. We came to the bathhouse, inside. So they.. all of us could not get in at one time. We were then a transport of six thousand. There were three thousand from Kozel [Kassel?], and we...
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: And when we came there, fifty or sixty women were let in at a time, and we stood outside. While we stood outside we saw those who had gone left were walking by. We see them through the trees. They are walking with the children, the mothers and the sisters and the old. All are walking with the children... and are walking. We thought that they are going to join us. Then we heard a lot of crying and wailing. We also started to cry and to wail very much. We asked what is going on there, why they are crying. The bath was opened. The women... and said, 'Everybody into the shower.' We all went in, and we didn't hear any more what happened to the others.
  • David Boder: Yes. Nu?
  • Jola Gross: Then when we were... we went into the bath. We were [told], 'Take everything off.' We took everything off, the clothes and everything. The hair was cut off, and we were...
  • David Boder: Who did that, men or women?
  • Jola Gross: Men and women.
  • David Boder: Yes. Cut off your hair.
  • Jola Gross: Cut off, yes.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: And then we went in... to the clean side.
  • David Boder: From where was your hair cut off?
  • Jola Gross: From all over.
  • David Boder: From the head, too.?
  • Jola Gross: From the head, too.
  • David Boder: From the head...
  • Jola Gross: Yes.
  • David Boder: ... and from the body?
  • Jola Gross: Also.
  • David Boder: And who did it, men...
  • Jola Gross: Men and women.
  • David Boder: With what did they cut off the hair?
  • Jola Gross: With scissors and with things, too, with...
  • David Boder: What?
  • Jola Gross: Such...
  • David Boder: Electric clippers?
  • Jola Gross: No, no, no.
  • David Boder: With knives [razors]?
  • Jola Gross: No.
  • David Boder: With razors?
  • Jola Gross: With... with machines.
  • David Boder: Yes, with machines.
  • Jola Gross: With machines and with...
  • David Boder: Scissors?
  • Jola Gross: Scissors.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: And then we bathed, and we went over to the clean side. We received our clothes, a dress, and we went out. We were led into the block.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: We were in the block, thirteen hundred people.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: In one block.
  • David Boder: Only women?
  • Jola Gross: Only women. It was in the women's concentration camp -- FK... F...
  • David Boder: Now well me, were you with... where was your family? Where was your family?
  • Jola Gross: Mine?
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: A brother...
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: ... I had, and sisters, and sisters' children. They were.... The brother was also [taken] for work.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Jola Gross: Because in the bath we saw each other from afar, but the sisters with the children went to the right and were burned.
  • David Boder: Yes? [Pause.] Yes?
  • Jola Gross: Oh. Then we got into the block, and there we were, thirteen hundred in a block. Well, that I have already told.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Jola Gross: and we slept twelve on one bed.
  • David Boder: What does it mean, 'on one bed'?
  • Jola Gross: Thus. It was such a big... two beds were there, but not beds like ours.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: But in [at] the wall. They were those beds.
  • David Boder: Yes. Such... such plank-beds.
  • Jola Gross: Yes. On the wall, and there we were twelve on one bed.
  • David Boder: Sleeping.
  • Jola Gross: Sleeping.
  • David Boder: Yes. And?
  • Jola Gross: And then we also received soup and twenty or twenty-five dekas of bread every day.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: We were there six weeks.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: After six weeks we were...
  • David Boder: Did you work there?
  • Jola Gross: No, no.
  • David Boder: No.
  • Jola Gross: We did not work then, but in the morning we got up at three o'clock, and we stood at count-appell.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Jola Gross: It lasted till eight...
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: ... in the morning, and then we lay outside all day long.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Jola Gross: And after six weeks we were again given a count-appell...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Jola Gross: ... a special one, and were chosen [selected] to be tattooed. Also the weak were again taken out, and the stronger ones were tattooed and were sent to work-lager 'B.' We had been in 'A' and now... then we went to lager 'B.'
  • David Boder: How were you tattooed?
  • Jola Gross: In lager 'A'... in the bath.
  • David Boder: In the bathhouse.
  • Jola Gross: In the bathhouse.
  • David Boder: How did they do it? With a...
  • Jola Gross: With a... with... with a thing.
  • David Boder: Needle?
  • Jola Gross: No, with a pen.
  • David Boder: Pen.
  • Jola Gross: Pen.
  • David Boder: And how come the pen... the pen went in so deep?
  • Jola Gross: Yes.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: It was painful.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: And then...
  • David Boder: And who was doing that, prisoners?
  • Jola Gross: Prisoners.
  • David Boder: Jewish prisoners?
  • Jola Gross: Jewish prisoners.
  • David Boder: Yes. Nu, then you went to lager 'B.'
  • Jola Gross: We went to lager 'B,' and there we worked. I worked in the outside detail.
  • David Boder: What was that?
  • Jola Gross: That... that was field [agricultural] work, construction work...
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: ... and such other... such as is always...
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: ... done outside.
  • David Boder: Construction work? What...
  • Jola Gross: Construction work...
  • David Boder: What did you build, a house?
  • Jola Gross: We have... we dismantled the houses, the bricks, and the... the... carried them, and by construction the same thing also...
  • David Boder: What houses did you dismantle?
  • Jola Gross: Old houses.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: New ones, too. I don't know [why?]. We went to work outside the wires.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: and we had... then we planted a forest...
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Jola Gross: ... and also cut down a forest.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: It was very hard work, too.
  • David Boder: How was it done?
  • Jola Gross: In Birkenau. [Wie in German means how; in Yiddish it means where, hence the discrepancies in the answers.]
  • David Boder: Is Birkenau near Auschwitz?
  • Jola Gross: Birkenau is the main lager of... of...
  • David Boder: Auschwitz.
  • Jola Gross: Of Auschwitz.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Jola Gross: It was forty square kilometers...
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: ... large [in size].
  • David Boder: Nu?
  • Jola Gross: And we went there every day to work. The band was playing.
  • David Boder: What sort of a band was there? Tell me a little more about it.
  • Jola Gross: The band was made up of prisoners.
  • David Boder: Prisoners.
  • Jola Gross: Prisoners.
  • David Boder: Men or women?
  • Jola Gross: For the men there were men, and for the women there were women.
  • David Boder: Were there women who could play?
  • Jola Gross: Women who could play at the... at the gate when we were going out. They stood there on the music place and were playing.
  • David Boder: What did the women play?
  • Jola Gross: They were only playing a march so that we should march left [in step].
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: We had to march left [in step].
  • David Boder: Aha.
  • Jola Gross: And that is how we would go out. Sometimes we would march eight kilometers, ten kilometers on foot to work.
  • David Boder: And the band went along?
  • Jola Gross: No. They only accompanied us when we went out through the gate.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Jola Gross: And when we returned...
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Jola Gross: ... they also sat at the gate and played.
  • David Boder: Wait a moment. On what indstruments did they play? You said they were women.
  • Jola Gross: Piano... no. On violins.
  • David Boder: Violins?
  • Jola Gross: Violins.
  • David Boder: And on trumpets?
  • Jola Gross: And there was a woman bandmaster.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Jola Gross: Yes. All were prisoners.
  • David Boder: Yes. Nu?
  • Jola Gross: And coming home in the evening we received the bread...
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: ... and went to sleep...
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: ... and [words not clear].
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: Once we were returning from work. We saw a truck. We saw from afar that the truck is already moving. It was already at night, five months, six months after coming to Birkenau. We saw a truck was coming. We were passing where the two crematories were, and we heard the girls crying in Hungarian, 'Don't take us to the crematory. We are still young. We want to live.' And they were taken to the crematory from the revier [sick-ward].
  • David Boder: From where?
  • Jola Gross: From the revier.
  • David Boder: What is that?
  • Jola Gross: Revier is a hospital...
  • David Boder: Oh, a hosp-...
  • Jola Gross: The sick were there [?].
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: That was called a revier. From the revier.they had been... in the afternoon at the count-appell they had been taken out.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Jola Gross: Those who looked bad were... every week or every two weeks there was a selection.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Jola Gross: That means an... an over- [a going over]...
  • David Boder: Yes, I understand.
  • Jola Gross: A selection, and the names were written down, the... the... the tattoo number, and they were driven away, those who looked bad.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: And I had a brother who... he worked in the special Kommando.
  • David Boder: What is a special Kommando?
  • Jola Gross: Special Kommando were those who worked at burning the people who were being burned.
  • David Boder: And your brother was working there?
  • Jola Gross: Worked there, too.
  • David Boder: Yes? Nu?
  • Jola Gross: He wrote me once a small note that he is working there, and there... and he hopes that perhaps he will come out, but, alas, in September he was burned.
  • David Boder: How? Why?
  • Jola Gross: Two hundred were picked out from there.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Jola Gross: And they were loaded on wagons [RR-cars].
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Jola Gross: That means that they have been sent on a transport.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Jola Gross: They were sent from Birkenau as far as Auschwitz. In the wagons they were gasse dand brought back to the crematories to be burned.
  • David Boder: Oh, they were gassed in the wagons?
  • Jola Gross: In the wagons.
  • David Boder: Why were they...
  • Jola Gross: They were treated specially different because they knew what was being done to the other thousands of people.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: With them it was done differently
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: They were sent away. It was called on a transport.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Jola Gross: They left Birkenau in the transport, and in the wagons they were...
  • David Boder: Gassed.
  • Jola Gross: Gassed.
  • Jola Gross: Gassed, and they were...
  • David Boder: Brought back.
  • Jola Gross: ... brought back, burned.
  • David Boder: Nu? And your brother was among them.
  • Jola Gross: Was there.
  • David Boder: How did you find it out?
  • Jola Gross: There had remained of those... eight hundred men were working there in the special Kommando. A few Polish [Polish Jews?] remained, and in Sept-... in November...
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Jola Gross: ... the crematories were dismantled.
  • David Boder: Why?
  • Jola Gross: Because they didn't want the... because they knew that the Russians were approaching. They shouldn't see what there...
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: ... what was done there. I was working there.
  • David Boder: Where did you work? At the crematories?
  • Jola Gross: At the crematories when they were... eh...
  • David Boder: Dismantled.
  • Jola Gross: ... dismantled. There were men who had remained. They told me what happened that time...
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: ... with those people, and that my brother, too, was among them.
  • David Boder: And then after the crematories were dismantled...
  • Jola Gross: Yes.
  • David Boder: ... were people still being gassed?
  • Jola Gross: No. At the end of November they did not... they did not burn any more.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: They were all... there were four crematories. Only one remained to burn the dead.
  • David Boder: Yes. Nu? What happened then?
  • Jola Gross: What more?
  • David Boder: What happened afterwards? How were you liberated?
  • Jola Gross: I was liberated, because on the 15th of January I went on a transport to Sudeten Germany, to a factory...
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Jola Gross: ... to work.
  • David Boder: What year was that? [Pause.] In what year was that?
  • Jola Gross: In...
  • David Boder: '45.
  • Jola Gross: In '45.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Jola Gross: In the year '45 I went there.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Jola Gross: And there I was until the place was evacuated. From there we were evacuated without food, and I was...
  • David Boder: Where to?
  • Jola Gross: To... farther into Germany.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Jola Gross: And I remained behind.
  • David Boder: In Sudeten?
  • Jola Gross: Yes. I did not want to go on any more. I had... I was very sick. I had swollen feet, and I remained behind. Then the Russians came.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Jola Gross: And we were liberated.
  • David Boder: You were liberated.
  • Jola Gross: Yes.
  • David Boder: How did you then come to Paris?
  • Jola Gross: To Paris I... I went to Germany. There I was...
  • David Boder: How? Where did the Russians liberate you? In the Sudenten?
  • Jola Gross: In the Sudeten.
  • David Boder: All right. how did you get away from Sudeten?
  • Jola Gross: I went to Germany.
  • David Boder: Why?
  • Jola Gross: Because I wanted to leave. I didn't want to remain any more where my people were slaughtered in blood. Because I want to go to Palestine.
  • David Boder: Did the Russians allow you to leave, or did you run away?
  • Jola Gross: No. We continued. We traveled.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: We went in May to Prague. Then we went...
  • David Boder: Then you went to Germany.
  • Jola Gross: To Germany.
  • David Boder: And from Germany?
  • Jola Gross: From Germany I went to Paris, because I want to go to Palestine.
  • David Boder: You traveled free [without a ticket]? You traveled free towards Palestine?
  • Jola Gross: Yes.
  • David Boder: Yes. Did you have any money?
  • Jola Gross: No.
  • David Boder: So how did you travel?
  • Jola Gross: Without money.
  • David Boder: All right. And why... you are thirty-six years old?
  • Jola Gross: Yes.
  • David Boder: Were you always a Zionist... a Zionist.
  • Jola Gross: Yes.
  • David Boder: And what do you want to do in Palestine?
  • Jola Gross: Work.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Jola Gross: I don't want to remain any more in such countries where one has endured such things that we saw, that we suffered, and that I reel.... I want to be already home in Palestine.
  • David Boder: Why do you say 'home in Palestine'? Do you have relatives there?
  • Jola Gross: No, I have none. There is my home. I am a Jew.
  • David Boder: And therefore Palestine is your home?
  • Jola Gross: [Laughing:] I think so. Where else? [A long pause.]
  • David Boder: Yes. Tell me, to whom did you come to Paris? Nu, yes, you...
  • Jola Gross: I was...
  • David Boder: Were you permitted to enter France?
  • Jola Gross: Yes.
  • David Boder: How...
  • Jola Gross: Illegally.
  • David Boder: Illegally. How did you cross the border?
  • Jola Gross: Nu, difficult [I managed]. I crossed the border...
  • David Boder: From where? From Germany or from...
  • Jola Gross: From Germany.
  • David Boder: From Germany you came...
  • Jola Gross: Yes.
  • David Boder: ... to France.
  • Jola Gross: To France.
  • David Boder: And then? How did you come to Paris?
  • Jola Gross: In Paris I came here in the... in the home [shelter] of the... eh... what is it called, the...
  • David Boder: What is the name of this home? What is it? Who...
  • Jola Gross: That is of...
  • David Boder: The Jewish Committee?
  • Jola Gross: The Jewish Committee, yes.
  • David Boder: And what do you do here all day?
  • Jola Gross: What?
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Jola Gross: I work. I have.... I can sew.
  • David Boder: You can sew?
  • Jola Gross: Sew, yes.
  • David Boder: So then...
  • Jola Gross: I have to work till I am able to leave for Palestine.
  • David Boder: You can sew?
  • Jola Gross: Yes.
  • David Boder: Do you earn any money?
  • Jola Gross: So far not.
  • David Boder: Why not?
  • Jola Gross: No, I have no machine...
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: ... and no papers, residence papers [permit]. As long as I don't have it, then...
  • David Boder: Oh, you are not permitted to work.
  • Jola Gross: No, can not work.
  • David Boder: Can't you do a little private work without a residence permit? If you had a machine could you not work a little by yourself?
  • Jola Gross: Yes, but I don't have a machine.
  • David Boder: Yes. And by hand you can't do much sewing.
  • Jola Gross: No. It doesn't go that way.
  • David Boder: It doesn't go that way.
  • Jola Gross: [Laughing:] It must be done with precision [accurately] if one wants to earn money.
  • David Boder: Yes. Tell me this, at home... how large was your family?
  • Jola Gross: We went twelve of our family to Auschwitz. Two of us came back.
  • David Boder: Who is the other one?
  • Jola Gross: A sister.
  • David Boder: Is she here in Paris with you?
  • Jola Gross: Yes.
  • David Boder: Oh, so you came with your sister.
  • Jola Gross: Yes.
  • David Boder: And so who were the twelve you went to Auschwitz?
  • Jola Gross: The twelve were a brother with his wife...
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Jola Gross: ... and a son...
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: ... a sister with a brother-in-law and two children, a fifteen and an thirteen year old daughter, and a sister with a husband, and a brother.
  • David Boder: And all went to Auschwitz?
  • Jola Gross: All went to Auschwitz.
  • David Boder: And how many of them were immediately put to the left... on the right side?
  • Jola Gross: How many? We... no... only three went to the right.
  • David Boder: Three to the right.
  • Jola Gross: Nine went immediately [in a low voice:] into the fire.
  • David Boder: Speak louder. Nine were what?
  • Jola Gross: Nine went immediately into the fire.
  • David Boder: Yes. And who were the three who came out?
  • Jola Gross: The sister, in Birkenau... I and my sister and the brother...
  • David Boder: Oh, yes.
  • Jola Gross: ... the one who worked there.
  • David Boder: And were you together with your sister all the time?
  • Jola Gross: No, no. The sister was in some other place.
  • David Boder: Where was she?
  • Jola Gross: She, the sister, was immediately sent to Germany...
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: ... to work.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: And I remained in Germany... in Birkenau.
  • David Boder: Yes. So where did you find your sister?
  • Jola Gross: In Budapest I found her.
  • David Boder: When did you go to Budapest?
  • Jola Gross: I went to look for her...
  • David Boder: Aha.
  • Jola Gross: ... when I was liberated.
  • David Boder: Tell me, when you were liberated, where did you go? Back to...
  • Jola Gross: I was... I was in Germany, and I went to look for the sister. I was in... in Prague, and I went to Budapest, and in Budapest I found her. Then we went back to Germany.
  • David Boder: Yes. Did you know that she went to Budapest, or did you...
  • Jola Gross: No, I didn't know Accidently I have...
  • David Boder: Tell me, how did you find your sister?
  • Jola Gross: Arriving in Budapest, I went to the Jewish Committee, and there I sat very despondent. I am alone, and... and many people were coming there to inquire. I didn't know where she was.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: And then someone comes over, an acquaintance. He says, 'You are here? Your sister is with us since Friday already.' She had arrived Friday.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Jola Gross: I was glad... so that we on the next day already...
  • David Boder: Saw each other?
  • Jola Gross: Yes.
  • David Boder: Met.
  • Jola Gross: Met.
  • David Boder: And then you decided...
  • Jola Gross: That we are going back. That we have to go to Germany to... to go to Palestine.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Jola Gross: [Words not clear.]
  • David Boder: Is your sister older or younger?
  • Jola Gross: Older.
  • David Boder: Had she been married before?
  • Jola Gross: No.
  • David Boder: Nu. You are two...
  • Jola Gross: Yes.
  • David Boder: ... unmarried...
  • Jola Gross: Yes.
  • David Boder: ... girls.
  • Jola Gross: Yes.
  • David Boder: Did you sign up for Palestine?
  • Jola Gross: Yes.
  • David Boder: And were you promised that you will be able to go?
  • Jola Gross: Yes, but now it is not so... in such good order, not so easy to travel [?]. So I remain here, but I want to go to Palestine.
  • David Boder: So...
  • Jola Gross: I can't remain any more on the soil where... where such things have happened, what I had seen.
  • David Boder: Nu, Miss Gross, I thank you very much. It was a very clear and good story. What did you say is your first name again?
  • Jola Gross: Jola.
  • David Boder: How do you write your first name?
  • Jola Gross: Jola. J-
  • David Boder: Write it down for me, please. [Pause.]
  • David Boder: [In English] This concludes the record of Miss Jola Gross of the age of thirty-six (36). Hm, the record was taken on August 3rd at the Home for, hm, Adult Jews. And as we heard her, her intentions -- her definite intentions -- are to go home, which means to Palestine. She has some relatives in the United States, hm, but she does not know their addresses, doesn't know about it.
  • Jola Gross: [Words not clear.]
  • David Boder: Yes. [Words not clear.]
  • Jola Gross: [Words not clear.]
  • David Boder: Tell me, Miss Gross, did you see Gypsies in your lager?
  • Jola Gross: a Gypsy lager. I asked why it was called a Gypsy lager.
  • David Boder: Oh, it was called the Gypsy...
  • Jola Gross: It was called the Gypsy lager. I was told that there had been many Germany Gypsies, and they don't live any more, but the lager.was always called the Gypsy lager. We also went there to bathe, to the Gypsy lager. but they weren't there any more.
  • Contributors to this text:
  • Transcription : Dagmar Platt
  • English Translation : David P. Boder