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

  • 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 Señor 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.Salonika, the largest city in northern Greece, is also known as Thessalonika. It was second to Athens in population and as a seaport to Piraeus. Salonikia had a culturally and religiously vibrant Sephardic Jewish community. It was the heart of the Sephardic world.1
  • David Boder: Yes. Your last name is really Mizrachi so we . . .
  • Manis Mizrachi: . . . Mizrachi, yes.Mizrachi is derived from the Hebrew word, "mizrach", which means east.2
  • David Boder: . . . call you in America "Minis Mizrachi."Mr. Mizrachi at first inverted his first and last names. Boder then corrected him but used "Minis" instead of "Manis."3
  • 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,The Freemasons were a secretive, liberal, humanitarian fraternal order. The Nazis persecuted the Freemasons in the belief that Masonic lodges were used by Jews in their quest for world domination and as such were a part of the Jewish world conspiracy.4 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.Some Jews from Salonika did flee to Athens which came under Italian control after the German conquest of Greece on June 2, 1941. The Italians treated the Jews humanely.5
  • 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.Mr. Mizrachi's family spent some eighteen months of relative peace and quiet in Athens before the German occupation of that city in September 1943. Subsequently, Dieter Wisliceny, Adolph Eichmann's deputy, arrived in Athens with detailed plans for the destruction of the Jewish community of that city.6
  • 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.Although the German raids were to prevent Jews going into hiding, many Athenian Jews did manage to hide with their Greek Christian neighbors despite the German penalty of death for Greeks providing shelter. The Greek Orthodox Church and the Greek underground helped to hide a number of Jews.7
  • 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.The German roundup of the Jews of Athens began in March 1944.8
  • 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.This exchange between Boder and Mr. Mizrachi is not entirely clear. Perhaps "pocket" meant "bucket" for waste which was then placed in the "piece of paper" and thrown out of the train every two days.9
  • 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 morning—six 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 go—to step seven or eight kilometers.Bergen Belsen concentration camp was named for the nearby town of Bergen. It was established in July 1943 and was originally intended for Jews whom the German government wished to exchange for Germans in Allied territory.10
  • 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.Later on in the interview, Mr. Mizrachi identified the capos as Polish Jews.11
  • 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.This was presumably the number under which Mr. Mizrachi was registered in Athens before boarding the deportation train.12
  • 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 wires—electric . . .
  • 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 us—other Jews—of Greece. And Polish people too who were with us in the camp.These were Polish Jews who had papers in their possession issued mostly by South American countries.13 And we were obliged after one week to eat because we starved. And so we carried everything—everything 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 people—the people who didn't want to beat and to collaborate with the Germans—starved and had only his home in back.Mr. Mizrachi probably means that those who were not capos lived collectively in the barracks behind the capos' rooms.14
  • 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 months—one year and six months.Since Mr. Mizrachi was deported to Bergen Belsen in April of 1944, he would have been incarcerated there for twelve months, not eighteen months. He and his family were deported from the camp in April, 1945 just prior to its liberation by the British army.15
  • David Boder: And then, where were you taken from?
  • Manis Mizrachi: Then I have been taken—we have been put into a big train in order to be transported to Theresienstadt.Theresienstadt was the so-called "luxury camp" or "model ghetto" in which Jews, mainly from Bohemia and Moravia, Germany and Austria were not actually exterminated but died from hunger, torture, disease and beatings. Some 88,000 Jews were deported from Theresienstadt to extermination camps in Poland, notably Auschwitz. Towards the end of April 1945, the Germans brought thousands of prisoners to Theresienstandt who had been evacuated from other concentration camps in danger of being overrun by Allied forces. Mr. Mizrarchi and his family could have been among these evacuees had they not been liberated from their deportation train.16 In the last days—two 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.Typhus is an acute infectious disease which in its epidemic form is spread from person to person by the body louse. As tens of thousands of prisoners poured into Bergen Belsen from camps in the east, a typhus epidemic raged in the early months of 1945 which claimed many thousands of lives, among them Anne Frank and her sister Margot.17
  • David Boder: Oh yes.
  • Manis Mizrachi: It was then when I lost my two parents. Unfortunately, at the last days. I lost them—my father . . .
  • David Boder: What do you mean—in Bergen-Belsen?
  • Manis Mizrachi: In the train—the big train—they caught there Typhus
  • David Boder: Oh, in the train. About how many days before liberation?Bergen Belsen was liberated on April 15, 1945.18
  • 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 also—"I meant thirty in one days"[?]
  • David Boder: What typhus was it? Ricket . . . Ricket . . . Spotted typhus?
  • Manis Mizrachi: Spotted typhus, yes.Spotted typhus is spread by mites and causes red spotting on the skin. With lice borne typhus, a characteristic rash appears over most of the body. It the latter variety of typhus, not "spotted typhus", with which Mr. Mizrachi and his parents were infected.19
  • David Boder: So then you lost your parents.
  • David Boder: [speaking over each other] .. of liberation. And you remained alone.Mr. Mizrachi was an only child who "remained alone" since both his parents died of typhus, and he was an orphan.20
  • 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 us—they 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.The "machine" Mr. Mizrachi refers to was the train engine. According to testimony of American liberators of the train, the reason that the train was stopped and that the prisoners were able to capture some SS guards is that the train crew and other SS abandoned their posts as overwhelming American forces closed in.21
  • 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 capos—the 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 village—the German village of Farsleben.Farsleben is a village located just north of the city of Magdeburg in north central Germany in the state of Saxony-Anhalt. U.S. troops of the 743rd tank battalion and 119th regiment of the Ninth Army freed the more than 2,500 prisoners on the Mizrachi family's deportation train from Bergen Belsen on April 13th, 1945.22
  • 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 . . .This was the typical response on the part of German civilians. They expended a great deal of energy denying Nazi crimes and engaging in willful ignorance.23
  • 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.The town of Hillersleben, also close to Magdeburg, was the site during the war of a large German air force (Luftwaffe) base. it was also the site of a large German weapons research center. It was most probably due to these reasons that there were hospitals in Hillersleben.24
  • 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 come—only 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 days—in 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?The French word "parent" is the word for relative.25
  • 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.The forlorn note on which the interview concludes is symbolic of the loneliness of so many survivors at the time who had lost so much of their previous lives and had to endure the large void which these losses created.26
  • 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.
  1. Salonika, the largest city in northern Greece, is also known as Thessalonika. It was second to Athens in population and as a seaport to Piraeus. Salonikia had a culturally and religiously vibrant Sephardic Jewish community. It was the heart of the Sephardic world.
  2. Mizrachi is derived from the Hebrew word, "mizrach", which means east.
  3. Mr. Mizrachi at first inverted his first and last names. Boder then corrected him but used "Minis" instead of "Manis."
  4. The Freemasons were a secretive, liberal, humanitarian fraternal order. The Nazis persecuted the Freemasons in the belief that Masonic lodges were used by Jews in their quest for world domination and as such were a part of the Jewish world conspiracy.
  5. Some Jews from Salonika did flee to Athens which came under Italian control after the German conquest of Greece on June 2, 1941. The Italians treated the Jews humanely.
  6. Mr. Mizrachi's family spent some eighteen months of relative peace and quiet in Athens before the German occupation of that city in September 1943. Subsequently, Dieter Wisliceny, Adolph Eichmann's deputy, arrived in Athens with detailed plans for the destruction of the Jewish community of that city.
  7. Although the German raids were to prevent Jews going into hiding, many Athenian Jews did manage to hide with their Greek Christian neighbors despite the German penalty of death for Greeks providing shelter. The Greek Orthodox Church and the Greek underground helped to hide a number of Jews.
  8. The German roundup of the Jews of Athens began in March 1944.
  9. This exchange between Boder and Mr. Mizrachi is not entirely clear. Perhaps "pocket" meant "bucket" for waste which was then placed in the "piece of paper" and thrown out of the train every two days.
  10. Bergen Belsen concentration camp was named for the nearby town of Bergen. It was established in July 1943 and was originally intended for Jews whom the German government wished to exchange for Germans in Allied territory.
  11. Later on in the interview, Mr. Mizrachi identified the capos as Polish Jews.
  12. This was presumably the number under which Mr. Mizrachi was registered in Athens before boarding the deportation train.
  13. These were Polish Jews who had papers in their possession issued mostly by South American countries.
  14. Mr. Mizrachi probably means that those who were not capos lived collectively in the barracks behind the capos' rooms.
  15. Since Mr. Mizrachi was deported to Bergen Belsen in April of 1944, he would have been incarcerated there for twelve months, not eighteen months. He and his family were deported from the camp in April, 1945 just prior to its liberation by the British army.
  16. Theresienstadt was the so-called "luxury camp" or "model ghetto" in which Jews, mainly from Bohemia and Moravia, Germany and Austria were not actually exterminated but died from hunger, torture, disease and beatings. Some 88,000 Jews were deported from Theresienstadt to extermination camps in Poland, notably Auschwitz. Towards the end of April 1945, the Germans brought thousands of prisoners to Theresienstandt who had been evacuated from other concentration camps in danger of being overrun by Allied forces. Mr. Mizrarchi and his family could have been among these evacuees had they not been liberated from their deportation train.
  17. Typhus is an acute infectious disease which in its epidemic form is spread from person to person by the body louse. As tens of thousands of prisoners poured into Bergen Belsen from camps in the east, a typhus epidemic raged in the early months of 1945 which claimed many thousands of lives, among them Anne Frank and her sister Margot.
  18. Bergen Belsen was liberated on April 15, 1945.
  19. Spotted typhus is spread by mites and causes red spotting on the skin. With lice borne typhus, a characteristic rash appears over most of the body. It the latter variety of typhus, not "spotted typhus", with which Mr. Mizrachi and his parents were infected.
  20. Mr. Mizrachi was an only child who "remained alone" since both his parents died of typhus, and he was an orphan.
  21. The "machine" Mr. Mizrachi refers to was the train engine. According to testimony of American liberators of the train, the reason that the train was stopped and that the prisoners were able to capture some SS guards is that the train crew and other SS abandoned their posts as overwhelming American forces closed in.
  22. Farsleben is a village located just north of the city of Magdeburg in north central Germany in the state of Saxony-Anhalt. U.S. troops of the 743rd tank battalion and 119th regiment of the Ninth Army freed the more than 2,500 prisoners on the Mizrachi family's deportation train from Bergen Belsen on April 13th, 1945.
  23. This was the typical response on the part of German civilians. They expended a great deal of energy denying Nazi crimes and engaging in willful ignorance.
  24. The town of Hillersleben, also close to Magdeburg, was the site during the war of a large German air force (Luftwaffe) base. it was also the site of a large German weapons research center. It was most probably due to these reasons that there were hospitals in Hillersleben.
  25. The French word "parent" is the word for relative.
  26. The forlorn note on which the interview concludes is symbolic of the loneliness of so many survivors at the time who had lost so much of their previous lives and had to endure the large void which these losses created.
  • Contributors to this text:
  • Transcription : David Palmer
  • Footnotes : Elliot Lefkovitz