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Flory (Floritza) Jagoda


Then ’41, and the war started, and everything went down, just from one thing to.... Every day was a new day of new pain, and new fright, and new disappointment, and waiting for something terrible to happen, every day. The first thing that really killed me is, we went to school, the teacher gets up, and she says, “Pinto, Abuhari, Stein, Schiller, Cabeelio, leave and don’t come back.” That was, kick you out of school, so you couldn’t go back to school. Then the second day, you were all called to a place, and they put yellow badges on you, patches, too, with a “Z,” which is, “Zidov” means, means Jew. Then everybody had to bring their radios in. I mean, every day was something frightening. Then comes Wednesday, it was my music day--music--and that was to me a day I lived for, because I always had my lessons all ready for Edat. And I come to her door, and she opens the door, and there were two German soldiers in the back visiting with her. This was already ’41. The Germans have come and occupied Zagreb. She saw me, and she saw my “Z,” and she froze. She said, uh, “Floritza, I can’t teach you anymore. Don’t come back.” And that was tough, you know, uh, that was tough. And I just turned around, and me and my harmonica, my friend, just walked home brokenhearted, just brokenhearted.

Flory (Floritza) Jagoda
Born 1923, Sarajevo, Yugoslavia
[1995 interview]

Flory was born into a Sephardic Jewish family. When Flory was a young girl, her mother moved to Zagreb with Flory’s stepfather; Flory joined them after living with her grandmother for two years. In Zagreb, Flory took music lessons and learned how to play the accordion. Germany and its allies invaded Yugoslavia in April 1941, partitioning the country and establishing a fascist regime under the Ustase (pro-German Croatian nationalists) in Croatia. The Ustasa regime soon imposed anti-Jewish regulations in Zagreb; Flory was no longer allowed to attend school, and Jews were forced to wear a badge identifying them as Jews. Flory’s family fled Zagreb, finding refuge in Italian-occupied areas and later in the south of mainland Italy. The Allies invaded Italy in 1943. After the Italian cease-fire in September 1943, Flory got a job with American forces in Bari, in southeastern Italy. In June 1945, after the war, Flory married an American sergeant, Harry Jagoda. They settled in the United States.

Flory describes anti-Jewish measures following the occupation of Zagreb

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