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Refugee Experiences from Around the World

Elsie Taft on life as refugee

Language: English

Armenian survivor Elise Taft remembers the Turkish soldiers telling the Armenian refugees that it was for their own safety to leave their homes. She was excited to ride on a train for the first time, but quickly realized how terrible the situation was.

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  • Kizito Kalima on the refugee camp shortly after the genocide

    Language: English

    June 20th is recognized by the United Nations as International Refugee Day to raise awareness of the plight of refugees around the world. Kizito Kalima, a survivor of the Rwandan Tutsi Genocide, remembers the makeshift refugee camp in the region shortly after the genocide.

  • Richard Ashton remembers the Near East Relief camp

    Language: English

    Armenian survivor Richard Ashton describes the difficult conditions he and his family endured as they made their way to a “Near East Relief” camp. They were relieved when they arrived, until they realized cholera had broken out and many people were dying.

  • Norma Dimitry on being a refugee

    Language: English

    Testimony clip of Norma Dimitry was subtitled into Czech, for a presentation in Czech Republic on teaching about the refugee crisis with testimony.

    clip of Norma Dimitry’s testimony. The clip is subtitled into Czech, just in case some of my fellow Czechs were interested in learning more about the last time our country provided at least a safe transit route if not a safe haven to a mass of people. - See more at: http://sfi.usc.edu/query?search_api_views_fulltext=Norma+Dimitry%2C+Holo...
  • Gerda Abraham on being a refugee

    Language: English

    Gerda Abraham describes being a refugee and living in a displaced persons camp in Algeria.

  • Izak Kiven on Being a Refugee in Prague

    Language: English

    Izak Kiven describes the train journey to Prague and the conditions in the city for refugees after World War II. The people were very friendly and eager to help him and other survivors.

  • Max Wald on Galician refugee experience in Bohemia

    Language: English

    Max Wald describes the Galician refugee experience in Bohemia during World War I. Max was born in Berehomet in Bukovina and grew up in Sokoliki in Galicia. In September of 1914 the family escaped from the frontline and was gradually evacuated to Chrast u Chrudimi in Bohemia.

  • Garabed Der Minasian on escaping violence

    Language: English

    Armenian survivor Garabed Der Minasian describes having to pack up and leave behind his home with his family when Turkish authorities had surrounded their town. With nowhere to go, Garabed and his family were forced to leave and survive on their own.

  • Liesl Loeb on the ship St. Louis

    Language: English

    Liesl Loeb was a passenger on the German ship St. Louis. She describes the immigration quotas in the United States that limited the number of Jewish refugees allowed into the country. The ship carrying Jewish refugees who were not permitted to disembark in Havana, Cuba, upon their arrival on May 27, 1939. Liesl's testimony is featured in the IWitness activity, Voyage of the St. Louis: From Hope to Despair.

  • Steffi Aghassi on displaced persons camp conditions

    Language: English

    The United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) assisted in the operation of displaced persons installations in Deggendorf, Germany, following World War II. Steffi Aghassi describes the conditions in the Deggendorf displaced persons camp and shares her incredible story as to what she personally did to change the status quo.

  • Elsie Taft on life as refugee

    Language: English

    Armenian survivor Elise Taft remembers the Turkish soldiers telling the Armenian refugees that it was for their own safety to leave their homes. She was excited to ride on a train for the first time, but quickly realized how terrible the situation was.

  • Vera Gissing on the Kindertransport

    Language: English

    Vera Gissing remembers her parents decision to send her and her sister Eva on the Kindertransport from Czechoslovakia to England in May 1939. She also describes their farewell at the train station in Prague and the journey to England. Vera’s testimony is featured in Testimony – The Legacy of Schindler’s List and the USC Shoah Foundation.

  • Peter Schattner on the Shanghai Ghetto

    Language: English

    Holocaust survivor Peter Schattner describes the living conditions of Jewish refugees in Shanghai.

  • Dave Lux on the Kindertransport

    Language: English

    Dave Lux survived the Holocaust as a child because of Nicholas Winton, who orchestrated the Czech Kindertransport, saving hundreds of Jewish children by transporting them to England. Lux remembers leaving his parents and thinking he’s going on a field trip.

  • Anita Lasker-Wallfisch on life as a displaced person

    Language: English

    Anita remembers the incredibly difficult period she spent as a displaced person after being liberated from the Bergen-Belsen camp. 

  • Live Wesige on life in a refugee camp

    Language: English

    Tutsi survivor Live Wesige describes how his life changed dramatically when living in a refugee camp in Goma. Coming from a privileged family, Wesige wasn’t prepared for the means of survival.

  • Alfred Broch on life as a refugee in England

    Language: English

    Jewish survivor Alfred Broch discusses the internment process that Jewish refugees underwent in England and the various categories of freedom they were given with levels A, B and C.

  • Rolf Allan on MS St. Louis

    Language: English

    Jewish survivor Rolf Allan and his family settled in England during the war, after attempting to travel to Cuba on the St. Louis ship. They had very little with them and found it difficult to settle in, as they were not welcomed initially in England because they were German. 

  • Louis Genjian on life as a refugee

    Language: English

    Armenian Survivor Louis Genjian talks about his difficult journey alongside other Armenian refugees after leaving behind their homes. At night, Turkish men would come and steal young girls and children, never to be seen again. The refugees hardly slept at night and had to keep walking every day or be left behind.

  • Walter Joelson on life in a refugee camp

    Language: English

    Jewish survivor Walter Joelson talks about his experience at Busserach, the refugee camp in Switzerland. He describes the difficult conditions he was forced to endure but says that he was simply happy to be free and not living in fear anymore. He also says that some of the Swiss people expressed kindness to him by supplying him with socks and other supplies.  

  • Susan Dregely on life in a displaced persons camp

    Language: English

    Jewish survivor Susan Dregely, talks about her experience as a child in a displaced persons camp. She and the other children were able to create their own world among the many people still suffering.

  • Fred Anstcherl on being rejected as a refugee

    Language: English

    Jewish survivor Fred Anstcherl talks about being boycotted by the Swiss Jews while living as refugees in Switzerland. The indigenous Jewish community believed the Austrian and German Jewish refugees would undermine their existence, and they did not want them in their country. The Quakers and other Christian groups were very kind to the refugees by contrast.

  • Ruth Bernard on life as a refugee

    Language: English

    Jewish survivor Ruth Bernard talks about being a Jewish refugee in Stotfold, England and the difficult physical conditions they endured to obtain basic things such as water, a kitchen, and school. She remembers the farmer that she stayed with couldn’t believe that she was Jewish because she looked so normal.

  • Ida Chait on life as a refugee

    Language: English

    Jewish survivor Ida Chait talks about her experience as a Jewish refugee in Komi, Russia and having to relocate to Samarkand in cattle cars on a journey that took over 30 days. She and her family had to live on the streets of Samarkand for 6 weeks, until her father was able to get a job as a tailor.

  • Fritz Schulmann on being a refugee in the Philippines

    Language: English

    Jewish survivor Fritz Schulmann fled to the Philippines from Nazi controlled Germany in 1939. Fritz remembers his life as a refugee in the coastal town Bacolod and reflects on the generosity of his German-Filipino landlord.

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