Unthinkable Journeys UNESCO 2014 Exhibit

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Unthinkable Journeys

Moshe Shamir

Language: English

Moshe Shamir (name at birth Schmucker) was born in an Orthodox Jewish family on April 17, 1922 in Cernauti, Romania (today Chernivtsi, Ukraine). His father,
Avraham, was a teacher in a Hebrew school. He died when Moshe was only five years old. Moshe’s mother, Rifka, raised him and his older brother, Menachem,
on her own. Moshe attended a four-grade Yiddish school, was a member of the Gordonia Zionist youth movement, and sang in the Jewish Choral Temple choir. He
started apprenticeship in a haberdashery store at the age of twelve.

Cernauti was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940. In July 1941, Romanian Army, allied with Nazi Germany, re-took the city as part of the Axis attack on the Soviet Union during World War II. Moshe was conscripted to forced labor re-building the main bridge over the Prut River, destroyed by the bombardment. Within a few weeks, all Jews of the city were ordered to move into a ghetto. Deportations began in fall 1941, and Moshe and his mother, along with other deportees, were marched across the Romanian-Soviet border to Transnistria—a territory located east of the Dniester River that was under the control of Romanian administration from August 1941 to March 1944. They arrived in the Ivashkovtsy ghetto in the Vinnitsa region of Ukraine. Moshe stayed in the ghetto until 1943, when he was deported to work on road and bridge construction in several labor camps in Odessa and Nikolaev regions under control of Organization Todt— a German state organization established by Nazi Party leader and engineer, Fritz Todt, for the purpose of constructing military facilities in Germany and throughout its occupied territories. Due to hand injury, Moshe was sent to a hospital located in the Mogilev-Podol’skii ghetto, in 1944. Soviet army approaching, he was released from the ghetto hospital and got reunited with his mother in Ivashkovtsy when the territory was liberated by the Red Army.

After liberation, Moshe and Rifka returned home to Cernauti, then under Soviet administration, and rejoined Moshe’s brother, Menachem. Unwilling to live under the communist regime, Moshe illegally crossed the border to Romania. He joined a local Zionist resettlement training program in Timisoara in preparation to immigrate to
Palestine. He was on board on Pan York approaching Palestine in December 1947 when the ship was seized by the British border patrol and all passengers were interned in Cyprus. He was released from the internment camp #61 on February 10, 1949 and arrived in Haifa. In Israel, Moshe worked in Mossad—the national intelligence agency. He married his wife in 1954, Judith, and had two sons, Avichai and David, and two grandchildren.

The interview was conducted on November 2, 1998 in Netanya, Israel; interviewer: Caroline Newman; videographer: Ilan Kedem.

  • Moshe Shamir

    Language: English

    Moshe Shamir (name at birth Schmucker) was born in an Orthodox Jewish family on April 17, 1922 in Cernauti, Romania (today Chernivtsi, Ukraine). His father,
    Avraham, was a teacher in a Hebrew school. He died when Moshe was only five years old. Moshe’s mother, Rifka, raised him and his older brother, Menachem,
    on her own. Moshe attended a four-grade Yiddish school, was a member of the Gordonia Zionist youth movement, and sang in the Jewish Choral Temple choir. He
    started apprenticeship in a haberdashery store at the age of twelve.

    Cernauti was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940. In July 1941, Romanian Army, allied with Nazi Germany, re-took the city as part of the Axis attack on the Soviet Union during World War II. Moshe was conscripted to forced labor re-building the main bridge over the Prut River, destroyed by the bombardment. Within a few weeks, all Jews of the city were ordered to move into a ghetto. Deportations began in fall 1941, and Moshe and his mother, along with other deportees, were marched across the Romanian-Soviet border to Transnistria—a territory located east of the Dniester River that was under the control of Romanian administration from August 1941 to March 1944. They arrived in the Ivashkovtsy ghetto in the Vinnitsa region of Ukraine. Moshe stayed in the ghetto until 1943, when he was deported to work on road and bridge construction in several labor camps in Odessa and Nikolaev regions under control of Organization Todt— a German state organization established by Nazi Party leader and engineer, Fritz Todt, for the purpose of constructing military facilities in Germany and throughout its occupied territories. Due to hand injury, Moshe was sent to a hospital located in the Mogilev-Podol’skii ghetto, in 1944. Soviet army approaching, he was released from the ghetto hospital and got reunited with his mother in Ivashkovtsy when the territory was liberated by the Red Army.

    After liberation, Moshe and Rifka returned home to Cernauti, then under Soviet administration, and rejoined Moshe’s brother, Menachem. Unwilling to live under the communist regime, Moshe illegally crossed the border to Romania. He joined a local Zionist resettlement training program in Timisoara in preparation to immigrate to
    Palestine. He was on board on Pan York approaching Palestine in December 1947 when the ship was seized by the British border patrol and all passengers were interned in Cyprus. He was released from the internment camp #61 on February 10, 1949 and arrived in Haifa. In Israel, Moshe worked in Mossad—the national intelligence agency. He married his wife in 1954, Judith, and had two sons, Avichai and David, and two grandchildren.

    The interview was conducted on November 2, 1998 in Netanya, Israel; interviewer: Caroline Newman; videographer: Ilan Kedem.

  • Simone Lagrange

    Language: French

    Simone Lagrange (nee Kadousche) was born on October 23, 1930 in Saint-Fons, France, near Lyon. Originally from Morocco, her parents Simon Kadousche and
    Rachel came to France in the 1920s.

    When the war began in France, Simon participated in the resistance, aiding refugees from the Occupied Zone and participating in the transport of arms. As a young
    adolescent, Simone also engaged in her first acts of resistance, disseminating resistance propaganda materials. Betrayed by a person they were sheltering, Simone’s family was arrested on June 6, 1944 and taken to Gestapo headquarters. Over the course of the following days, while Simone and her parents are taken to the Montluc prison, Simone was repeatedly beaten by Klaus Barbie, head of the Gestapo in the Lyon region. At the end of June 1944, Simone and her mother are deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp via Drancy. Simone’s mother perished there in the gas chambers in August 1944. After five months there, Simone was transferred to Auschwitz I, where she worked in a factory until January 18, 1945. During the course of the death march that followed her evacuation from the camp, Simone identified her father, also on a death march, and reunited with him at the behest of an SS soldier, who executed him in front of her eyes within minutes of the reunion. Her death march continued until the Ravensbrück concentration camp. During the camp’s evacuation in May 1945, she escaped the transport with a fellow prisoner. On May 8, the fugitives witnessed the arrival of the Red Army.

    After a long and circuitous route, Simone returned to France on May 27, 1945. Klaus Barbie was finally caught in the 1970s, and Simone was a key witness in the 1987 war crimes trial for his role in the Gestapo during the war. She told a story of her Holocaust experiences in the documentary As A Young Girl of 13 (2011) and was featured in the documentaries Hôtel Terminus (1988) and Autopsie d’un mensonge - Le négationnisme (2001). She continues today to transmit her story to students.

    The interview was conducted in Seyssinet on October 14, 1995. The interviewer was Gérard Darcueil and the cameraman Denis Cugnod.

  • Yaakov Handeli

    Language: English

    Yaakov Handeli was born in a middle-class Jewish family on July 23, 1927 in Salonika, Greece. He was the youngest of six children; he had two brothers and
    three sisters. His father, Shlomoh, co-owned a building material business. Ladino speaker at home, Yaakov attended a private, Ladino-language primary school and a
    Gymnasium, where he studied in Greek.

    After the German invasion of Salonika on April 8, 1941, Shlomoh and his two partners lost the business to the occupying authorities. During ghettoization in 1943, the Handeli family was forced into a ghetto established in the Baron Hirsch district of Salonika. A week later, they were deported to Auschwitz in Poland. The last time Yaakov saw his parents and two sisters was the night they arrived in the concentration camp: they were loaded on trucks and taken to the Auschwitz II-Birkenau crematoria. Yaakov, along with his brothers, wound up in the Auschwitz I section of the camp. He was then transferred to the Auschwitz III-Monowitz labor camp and from there to Gleiwitz, Mittelbau-Dora, and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps in Germany. Yaakov was liberated from Bergen-Belsen on April 15, 1945, by British military forces.

    Following post-liberation recovery in Bamberg, Germany, Yaakov received military training from Haganah, the main Jewish resistance organization in Palestine from 1920-1948, in Marseille, France. He arrived in Haifa, Israel, in 1948. In Israel, Yaakov served in the army and worked for the Jewish Agency and the United Jewish Appeal (UJA). At the time of his interview, he was married and had two children.

    The interview was conducted on June 12, 1996 in Jerusalem, Israel; interviewer: Na’aman Belkind; videographer: Arnon Kedem.

  • Régine Jacubert

    Language: French

    Régine Jacubert (née Skørka) was born January 24, 1920 in Zagórów, Poland. Her father, Yacob Skørka taught Hebrew and Yiddish in a Yeshiva. Her mother, Slatka
    Szejman was a milliner. She had three brothers. The family left for France in 1930, settling in Nancy.

    At the time of the German invasion in 1940, the family sought refuge in Bordeaux, but Régine returned alone to Nancy, where she worked. The rest of her family was
    arrested and interned. In Nancy, she escaped the large roundup in July 1942 and passed clandestinely into the Unoccupied Zone. She worked in Lyon and joined the resistance movement Combat in January 1943. In June 1944, she was arrested, taken to the Gestapo, and interrogated by Klaus Barbie. She was then deported to the
    Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp via Drancy in July 1944. After three months, she was transferred to the Kratzau women’s forced labor camp in Czechoslovakia, where she worked in an armament factory. She was liberated by the Soviet Armed Forces on May 9, 1945, and she returned to France the following month.

    At the end of the 1980s, she testified at the Klaus Barbie trial. She is fully invested in keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive and has told her story to school children in France. In 2009, she published her memoir, Fringale de vie contre usine à mort (Hunger for Life vs. Factory of Death).

    The interview was conducted on February 7, 1996 in Nancy, France ; interviewer: Georges Gandwerg; videographer: Daniel Cattan.