Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Rosa Strygler

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:15 - An overview of her life until her move the United States

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Partial Transcript: Uh, well, I was born in 1928. I was born in Krakow. And, uh, I was born to an extremely Hasidic family.

Segment Synopsis: Strygler discusses her Hasidic family background, noting that she is the only survivor of her family because she escaped while being transported by train from Auschwitz to another concentration camp. She describes her family's confinement in the ghetto in Krakow, Poland. During the ghetto's liquidation, which lasted from June 1942 to March 1943, they were taken to Auschwitz, where all in her family were killed except for her. She worked for a few weeks before she was put on the train from which she would escape. She describes the escape, her subsequent stay in an orphanage, her escape to Budapest to work as a housekeeper, her stay in a displaced persons camp in Romania after the end of the war, and her selection as an orphan survivor to be moved to the United States in 1947, where she eventually married.

[[Recording is interrupted at 2:55.]]

Keywords: Budapest (Hungary); Hasidic Jews; Housekeepers; Kraków Ghetto; Orphanages

Subjects: Auschwitz (Concentration camp); Ghettos, Jewish.; Hasidim; Kraków (Poland); Railroad trains.

GPS: Kraków (Poland)
Map Coordinates: 50.061, 19.938
00:09:21 - Life in the Krakow Ghetto

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Partial Transcript: Well, can you go in--let's see, what, what was, first of all, what was life like in, in the ghetto?

Segment Synopsis: Strygler describes the Krakow ghetto. Rather than performing forced labor (since it was a non-working ghetto), she says that she spent her days trying to find food. The inhabitants of the ghetto, she says, were all aware of the death camps.

Keywords: Auschwitz (Concentration camp); Kraków Ghetto; Treblinka (Concentration camp)

Subjects: Ghettos, Jewish.; Kraków (Poland)

00:14:36 - Hiding on a farm

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Partial Transcript: How, how did your father get the idea to go to this farm?

Segment Synopsis: Strygler describes her family's life hiding on a farm for about six months, before being taken to the Krakow Ghetto. Part of this time, she explains, they stayed in the house of a relative on her mother's side of the family.

Keywords: Hiding places; Rural life

Subjects: Farms.; Poland.; Villages.

00:20:06 - Escape from the train

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Partial Transcript: Can you destri--describe the--after you escaped from the train, -------?? when you went to Hungary, can you describe the journey from there to--

Segment Synopsis: Strygler explains that after she and several others escaped from the train that departed from Auschwitz, it was so cold that unless the fugitives kept moving, they would freeze to death. After noting that she was the youngest among those who escaped, she reflects on the ages of those who survived the Holocaust.

Keywords: Cold; Freezing; Holocaust trains; Hypothermia; Winter

Subjects: Age; Auschwitz (Concentration camp); Railroad trains.

00:28:21 - Her attitude about her parents

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Partial Transcript: After you saw parents and everybody, how did you want to go on?

Segment Synopsis: Strygler describes her last moments with her mother in the Krakow Ghetto, before she was taken away and never seen again. She reflects on the inevitable difference between each survivor's experience.

[[Audio is unintelligible after 31:58.]]

Keywords: Experiences; Kraków Ghetto; Survival

Subjects: Ghettos, Jewish.; Kraków (Poland); Mothers.

00:34:26 - Her stay in an orphanage / returning to religion

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Partial Transcript: What happened when you went to the children's in-------?? ?

Segment Synopsis: Strygler describes her stay in an orphanage, the only Jew among gentile Polish girls. One of them, she says, was very religious, unlike Strygler herself, who by this point had come to think of religion as foolish. She explains, however, that after her move the United States, she gradually became once again interested in Judaism.

Keywords: Christians; Gentiles; Girls; Polish

Subjects: Children.; Judaism.; Orphanages; Religion.; Schools.

00:40:03 - Working in Budapest

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Partial Transcript: I want to know more about, um, your time with the lady in Budapest.

Segment Synopsis: Strygler discusses the period during which she worked as a housekeeper for a wealthy woman in Budapest, Hungary. Strygler became close to this woman, so that she confessed her Jewish identity. Her employer then arranged for her transportation to Romania, where she stayed with a Jewish family. She reflects on the kindness of Jewish survivors toward each other after the war.

Keywords: Escapes; Escaping; Romania; Russians; Wealthy people

Subjects: Budapest (Hungary); Holocaust survivors.; Housekeepers; Jews.; Rich people.

GPS: Budapest (Hungary)
Map Coordinates: 47.493, 19.051
00:46:50 - Details on her escape to Budapest

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Partial Transcript: When you were in Auschwitz, didn't they--(coughs)--when you came in, didn't they shave your hair, and give you prison clothes--you know--this. So, how--when you escaped--

Segment Synopsis: Strygler describes in detail her escape from the railway to Hungary, which took about one month. She indicates that upon her arrival in Budapest, Hungary, she became involved in the Jewish underground movement.

[[Recording repeats several seconds at 51:01.]]

Keywords: Auscwitz (Concentration camp); Escapes; Escaping; Fleeing; Poland

Subjects: Budapest (Hungary); Farms.; Railroad trains.; Underground movements, War

00:51:46 - Her life in the United States

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Partial Transcript: What is, what is your husband -------??

Segment Synopsis: Strygler explains that she has rarely discussed the war with her husband, who is an American. After her move to the United States, she says, she tried to forget the past and sought only the "American Dream." She explains that all of the Holocaust survivors she knows are married. She indicates that for about ten years, Holocaust memorials and gatherings of survivors were neither known to her nor a part of her life. Although she lived happily without them, she says, she is glad to have become involved in groups of Holocaust survivors. She describes her occupation as an importer of precious stones. She discusses her confirmation, after the war, of the death of her family members during the war. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: "American Dream"; Americans; Husbands; Marriage

Subjects: Death camps; Emigration and immigration; Holocaust survivors