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Eyewitness to History: Rachel (Rae) Mutterperl Goldfarb

Rachel (Rae) Mutterperl Goldfarb was born in Dokszyce, Poland, in 1930. During the German occupation, Rae and her family were forced to live in a ghetto. They escaped during a roundup and went into hiding with Gentiles. After her brother was denounced and killed, Rae and her mother fled to another ghetto and then joined a group of partisan fighters with whom they remained until liberation in 1944.


Welcome. Thank you for joining us for First Person conversations with Holocaust survivors.

My name is Bill Benson, I have hosted the Museum's First Person program since it began in 2000. Through these monthly conversations we bring you first-hand accounts of survival of the Holocaust. Each of our first-person guests serves as a volunteer at the Museum.

We are honored to have Holocaust Survivor Rae Goldfarb share her individual personal account of the Holocaust with us.

Rae, why don't we start with you telling us about your early life and in Poland, your early life as a child.

Rae: I grew up in a small town, my parents were both in commerce, in business, my mother had a fabric store she went to Vilna, Warsaw, large centers where she purchased bales of manufactured fabrics, she sold it wholesale and retail, we had a store that was in front of our house.

My father was also in business he basically bought up grain of mostly flax and flax seed and apples, pears and shipped them to the border between Poland and Germany.

Both of my parents were away quite a bit and the household had a lot of hired help and also my father's mother, my grandmother was in charge. I had a very happy childhood with much attention.

Bill: And Rae, you, you had a little brother and Shlomo, will you tell us about him.

Rae: Shlomo was three years younger than I and needless to say as a boy he was the apple of my mother's and my father's eye.

This is actually a picture of my mother, my brother and I at a resort place right before the war started for us.

My brother did not survive the Holocaust.

Bill: And Rae I know we'll know, we'll learn more about that a little bit later. This particular photograph apart from the fact that it's of you, your mother and your brother, is also an incredibly prized possession for you isn't it?

Rae: That is the only possession I have of my previous life, it's also the only photograph of my brother. It was found by a neighbor of ours in the trash, she retrieved it, straightened it and when my mother came back after we were liberated, she gave my mother the photograph and she was so heartbroken because she was not able to offer my mother even one night's lodging because she told my mother both she and my mother might not survive to the next day.

Bill: Rae thank you for sharing. I know that's so, so important to you.

Rae, your father died when you were very young. Do you remember much about him? Is there anything you can share with us about your father, apart from what he did for his business as you mentioned?

Rae: I remember my father as being quite tall, then again I was quite small.

I remember a portrait of my father hanging on the living room wall. Fortunately, my aunt, who emigrated to the United States had a picture that the portrait was made from and I have that in my possession. That's my only memory of my father other than a trip he took me on to examine some orchards which were right on the Polish-Russian border.

I sort of can still almost see a picture of what was happening on the Russian side. The farmers were celebrating, I don't know what but they played an accordion, danced and I still remember a few words of the song, rastsvetali iabloni i grushi. The apple and pear trees are in bloom.

Bill: That's amazing, that is amazing that, that has stayed with you all this time. With your father's death Rae, he had his own business and your mother had her business. What did your mom do once your father was gone?

Rae: My mother took over my father's business too, because people depended on employment. My father also supplied uh meat to uh the garrison.

Since we were so close to the border, we were only four kilometers from the Russian border.

There was a military garrison and um he had a contract with them to supply meat and because kosher has to be specially slaughtered, he managed to bribe and get kosher slaughter so he could also supply meat to the community.

My grandfather helped my mother at that point to run that part of the business, but uh...

Bill: The real story there Rae is that your mom took over both businesses and she must have been a remarkable businesswoman to be able to do that.

Rae: She was.

Bill: Yeah.

Rae, the Second World War began with Nazi Germany attacking Poland on September 1st, 1939. Since the Soviet Union had signed an agreement with the Nazis, they invaded Poland from the east on September 17th and occupied your town of Dokszyce.

What, what can you tell us about that occupation of your town by the Soviets. What did it mean to you and your family?

Rae: Well the first thing is my mother had to dismantle her business.

The Communist Regime does not believe in private businesses, everything is state controlled.

She quickly distributed uh the fabrics to some villagers that she was did business with and she trusted them, but not only that she had to distribute some of the household possessions too.

I remember she had a fur coat, a Persian coat that she hid with one of the farm families and they actually returned it to her after liberation. But, the store was closed.

Mother of course did not have any income at that point, um she had to depend on the bartering with with the farmers to supply us with some food, in addition to that, a family was evicted from their home, one of the large homes that they owned taken over by the Russian occupiers and were moved into our house. So we had to start sharing our house right away, with, with another big family. Our family was small because it was just my mother, my brother, and I and my paternal grandmother. But, but maternal, my fraternal grandmother died actually during the Russian occupation.

Bill: And, during that time Rae, one of the things you shared with me is that you, your mother had bags packed because she was expecting to at any moment to be deported if I understand that right.

Rae: Yes, the Russians had deported some families that they considered a threat, I guess to their country and they took over houses from those families. Mother expected that we might be deported too, however because she was a widow I guess, they had some pity and did not deport us. We did have to change our way of life and I had to change schools.

I was going to a private school of mostly Jewish, Hebrew-oriented and I had to switch over to a public school, which uh was a hardship, learning a new language and being thrown together with uh different kids.

Bill: Rae, under the code name Operation Barbarossa, Nazi Germany launched a surprise attack in June 1941 against the Soviet Union, who of course had been its ally in the war against Poland. The German Army entered your town and by the end of 1941 your family and the other Jews of Dokszyce were forced to live in a ghetto. What, what do you recall of how your lives changed once the Germans were in control?

Rae: When the Germans came in at first they, they were not viewed as or at least by us I think, I can't say by us, I didn't have much of an opinion, but uh it was viewed that they were more civilized, they were more um, they remember the Germans from the First World War, which which treated the population uh not badly at all.

My grandfather had housed some of the German military officers and actually saw one of the officers with the occupying army. The officer however did not want to speak to my grandfather and told him that to move away and eventually later came to visit him and brought an orange as a peace offering and told my grandfather this is not the same German army. And not to expect anything that he experienced during the first World War.

Bill: This was an older German officer who had served in the first World War telling your, your grandfather.

Rae: Yeah.

Bill: Rae, when did you, when do you first experience antisemitism or persecution because you were Jewish?

Rae: Well, they within a month we were told to wear, to identify ourselves by wearing a yellow six-pointed star, the, what we call the Star of David. We had to at first wear it on an armband, but then we had to have it sewn into our clothing because, so we couldn't take it off and quickly and um pass ourselves off as anything else. Within a couple of, well first of all we, walking on the sidewalk became an issue for them. If I walked on the sidewalk and some kids wanted to push me into the gutter or into the road they felt free to do it.

The roads were kind of dirty because most of the transportation was by horse and buggy and I remember getting my shoes rather dirty and coming home crying. Within a couple of months, they established a ghetto. They asked the people to pack their belongings, gave them a half hour to pack their belongings and come to a square, a market square and moved everybody into the ghetto. Our house happened to be have fallen into the ghetto perimeter.

The front of the house had a big gate and uh, all the houses in that particular section had big houses with front gates that closed off. The rest of the ghetto was fenced off with barbed wire and all the full population of about 3,000 Jews were moved into a small area. Our house was full of people, um a lot of family, my mother was one of six and they had families too and everybody moved in, practically everybody moved into our house.

During the night bedding was spread out on the floor and then the morning it was picked up.

Everybody of course ate from the same kitchen.

Bill: Do you remember Rae if food was scarce at that time?

Rae: Food was scarce but we were fortunate to have some of the farmers deliver some to the front gate.

The gate had a, a door. I mean the gate, it was a wide gate that was used to open up to bring in merchandise which was stored in a warehouse in the back and they would leave uh supplies for us, produce and dairy supplies in the front by the door there which was watched by someone from the family and taken in very quickly. It was mostly delivered at night and it was shared.

Bill: Rae, there you are in the in the ghetto in Dokszyce and the Germans began taking large groups of people out of the ghetto and killing them in mass shootings.

Do you recall what your mother and you heard about these mass killings and what was your mother able to do to protect you during that time?

Rae: The first mass killing occurred in the very early part of 1942. People were asked to come to the marketplace with their possessions so they could be resettled in a bigger ghetto. They selected some people, I don't know the number and took them away. It was learned that instead of taking them to a larger ghetto they were taken to a pit and summarily executed. There happened to be quite a disquieting time in the ghetto, uh at a time some people that went out to work. The Nazis required the Jews to work for them, uh to um help with building roads, uh taking care of the soldiers that were in the barracks and the garrison and some, they even allowed the population to require some Jews to come and to be their maids, clean and do whatever they were required of them. We had a hiding place uh that was used during the Pogroms, which were uh at times committed against the Jews where population would rise up and and try to do harm to Jews. Beat them up and sometimes even kill them and so when the house was built and and the warehouse was built on, there was a space between the wall of the house and the warehouse but it was covered with a continuous roof and that became a hiding place, accessible through the attic.

And when we heard of a new resettlement, uh went into hiding there.

Bill: You're saying really Rae by a new resettlement that was just a euphemism for taking people out and killing them in mass numbers.

Rae: That was a way of getting the Jews to come out so they could take them away easily.

However after the second resettlement nobody came out. Or everybody had some sort of idea about a hiding place. Some Jews tried to escape and a few men had absconded from a work detail uh that when the Nazis took the Jews to work detail everybody had to appear in a square that was within the ghetto and they would count how many people left and count when everybody came back. When they discovered that a few were missing, there were retributions. 10 for one of equal or approximate age of the ones that were missing.

The ghetto was ruled by a committee of men that they had appointed and the head of the committee was the one that they communicated with and issued orders to.

And when the committee offered themselves as replacement for those people, they had them select others from the ghetto, which meant that they were the executioners. Needless to say, people hesitated to put somebody else in danger, so very few people escaped.

Bill: Rae, of course at some point um you were going into hiding during these times and there was a terrible incident in which you lost your grandmother. Will you tell us about that?

Rae: The last resettlement quote, unquote. We went into the hiding place, anybody that could get in got in. The Jews did not follow orders to come to the square and so they were pulling people, they were looking for people in the houses. Unfortunately the population, some of the population went along with the Nazis to try to find the Jews and to take them out.

We were all in the hiding place, we could hear the looting, the arguments between people about who deserved to get what and we stayed in that hiding place for about eight days. During that time some people tried to get out at night and see what's happening trying to escape and they were caught.

By the end, food was scarce, we had no water and sanitation was very bad. We, after a week it got kind of quiet, I think the premises were emptied of everything they could find, we could hear them breaking up some things and taking them away. And finally only my mother, my brother and I and two other children and my maternal grandmother were left in the hiding place.

When it was quiet at night we attempted to get out.

We got out. My mother was the first one to take us kids out and my grandmother was the last one to take the rope ladder out, away and all of a sudden we heard noises in the house.

We had another hiding place in a pantry there was a root cellar, so my mother took us quickly into the root cellar, my grandmother was slower she was the last one in back she heard the voices very close by so she quickly covered up the root cellar and she acted like she was out of her mind. They took her away. We stayed there another day and at night ventured out.

Mother knew of course which way was the best way to go and we just followed. There was a river called the Berezina, which had its source very close to our town, just north of it.

And it was not very deep, we could cross it. The tide I guess, was, the flow was low. We crossed it to the other side, we were wet of course and we met up with two guards.

They were local citizens, they had rifles which were pointed at us. Mother asked them to please put their rifles on the shoulder, she'll give them all her valuables that she had with her.

To put out their hands and she gave it to them and she told them look you know me, please let us go.

Until they put away the valuables and got their rifles, we were gone.

The two kids that were with us ran in one direction, away, tried to save themselves.

And mother my brother and I of course went a different way.

We came to a village nearby, very good friends of ours we used to socialize with them and the farmer offered to hide my son, to keep my, my brother.

My brother was left with the farmer and the farmer suggested that to take me to his sister who would conceal me, she had a daughter about the same age.

And my mother was going to try to fend for herself somehow.

Bill: Rae how far apart were you from your brother when you were taken to these different, two different places?

Were you a long way away from each other?

Rae: No, we weren't. It was in the same village, just the sister was on a different road not very far away and uh while we were at the sister's house a message came from the farmer that was hiding my brother that somebody exposed my brother.

And the sister thought that since they figured out that my mother left my brother with her brother, with the farmer that that we were not safe to be at her house. She suggested that we hide for the day in the bathhouse. The farmers did not have a bathrooms in their houses and the bathhouse was used on Saturday to clean up for church on Sunday. The whole village used it and we hid, we went to that bathhouse to stay during the day. At night she came and told us that my mother was being searched out and that we better keep on going.

By night we walked, by day we hit in the corn fields. My mother figured to go to the house, the village that was not too far away from where we were and the woman that took care of my brother would possibly want to help see what happened to my brother.

Bill: Please yes tell us what happened to your brother.

Rae: The woman went to town and she tried, she told my mother that she tried to plead to let her see my brother, that she has no children and she would be happy to raise him as her own.

That she raised him from infancy. However they told her that my brother did not exist anymore, that he was shot. She came back with the news and she told my mother that she's afraid to keep her or keep us because it was known that my mother was possibly someplace around.

Bill: So Rae, your mother finds, you find out that um your brother was denounced at the place that he was in hiding and he was killed, now it's just you and your mom and you would end up and this is still 1942, you would end up in the ghetto in Glebokie and, and immediately while you were there your mother was determined from the beginning to escape from this ghetto as well because she wanted to join the Partisans in nearby forests who were fighting the Nazis.

Tell us about what it was like for you in Glebokie and what your mother did to plan to escape from that place.

Rae: A woman that my father had helped to keep her farm when her husband died, helped us by giving us transportation in a wagon to Glebokie during market day and we managed to get into the ghetto with the people that went out to work. My mother had managed to get documents that I was two years older and would be able to go out with the working force.

She was constantly plotting on how to get away, how to get out and she went out to work as a laundress for some Nazi families that, that were there for soldiers, I'm not sure quite what. But I remember I was taken to work in a spinning mill.

Bill: Spinning mill?

Rae: I did not spin. My job was to tie the threads that had broken so the spinners would not waste time and I could with small fingers tie the thread very quickly. I moved from spinner to spinner wherever I was cold and that allowed me to get a ration of food and also be able to exit the ghetto.

Bill: And Rae just so we're understand this,

because your mother got those identification papers they put your age at two years older than you actually were. You were 10 years old and this made you 12, which meant you were eligible to go do the work you just described. Is that right?

Rae: Yes at the age of 12 I qualified.

Bill: You qualified because you were supposedly 12 but you're doing well 10 years of age.

You're, so as you were telling us Rae your mom was plotting from the get-go on how she's going to leave Glebokie's ghetto. Tell us, tell us how she did that and how she was managed to get you out of there.

Rae: Well my mother and father had a lot of acquaintances with farmers because of their business and she was able to contact or manage to get in touch with a farmer who smuggled a gun to her. She knew, we knew about the partisans because many of the prisoners of war, Russian prisoners of war escaped from the Nazis. They mistreated them terribly and in mass they used to try to flee some of them were shot and some of them managed to get to the forest. We lived in an area that was forested with pine trees which were easy to hide in, under actually and also they were marshes and the Nazis did not like to dirty their boots.

One of the jobs was to, that they took the people from the ghetto to was to polish their boots.

That enabled my mother to have some some sort of means to sell herself as an able fighter to the partisans.

One day she found out exactly where the partisans would be.

The people from the ghetto were trying to find a way to escape, they even had dug a tunnel under the barbed wire fence, but were discovered and even though a couple managed to escape the rest didn't. There was no way to escape other than to just a walk away and one day on market day my mother met a farmer who had given her the basket with the guns secured under in some hay and straw with a few eggs on top which were broken so that it would not look suspicious that we couldn't sell it and I met her as we were going out to work and kept on going.

Bill: So you both pretended to be going to work and then that's when you took off?

Rae: That's when we took off.

Looking like we sold our our wear, sold our goods and we're going back to the village.

Bill: And so instead you would make your way into the forest to find these partisans. Tell us about finding them.

Rae: We got to the edge of the forest and were met by some of the fighters there. It was a reconnaissance group. What you see in the picture is just the ramshackle army. The partisans with some rifles, some Russian, some those that they were able to take away from the Germans and if you'll notice that one of them actually has a German cap on him, on him on the right. There are two women in there. There were very few women with the partisans.

The women that were there normally were somebody who could contribute to the fight.

Mother sold herself to the head of the resistance group that she would be their cook and I would be her helper. Also being young, I could go out with some of the village children to look around and see what was what was going on.

We stayed with the partisans until I became ill.

Bill: How did you find enough food to survive during that time?

Rae: Well when we were in with the partisans, uh the partisans would get some food from the farmers, not necessarily the farmers wanting to give it away. However the partisans were also a guard for them because the Nazis would take away their grain and their cattle for, for their soldiers, for their army. Food was scarce no matter what and so they shared some of it. We also, I also used to go to the forest and collect some mushrooms and berries. The mushrooms were used in the soup, potato soup was, was the usual food that we ate and my mother would um use the mushrooms to kind of season the soup with some onions and the berries of course we could eat.

The marshes produced a lot of cranberries, there were also blueberries and wild strawberries from what I remember and raspberries. So during the summer months it wasn't so bad, we could feed ourselves some berries. The winter months were strictly potato soup.

Bill: The um, as you started to tell us a few minutes ago Rae you became at some point very ill.

Tell us about that illness.

Rae: Typhus became very widely spread, it's a horrible disease.

The temperatures, fever went up to 105, many people did not survive it. My mother of course tried to save me, I think from my conversations with her later she said that life without both her children was not going to be feasible for her. So she set out to deeper in the forest where the main partisan group was because they had some sort of a makeshift hospital and when we got there we found that someone she really knew from Glebokie was the substitute, I will call it doctor because she was a nurse and midwife and she knew how to treat wounds and she knew how to sew up wounded partisans. She took me under her care and got me through the typhus.

Bill: In this makeshift field hospital.

Rae: Makeshift field hospital.

Bill: Once once you recovered, typhus is behind you, what happened then with you and your mother?

Rae: Unfortunately or fortunately the front lines started to move.

The Russians started to put up more of a defense, they were supplied by the Allies, started to be supplies by the Allies and the soldiers also were willing to fight harder. At first the Russian soldiers just laid down their arms. They, they were hungry, they were ill-equipped, and could not really fight the Nazis and so the prisoners of war that managed to escape and get back behind the front lines told their stories of escape and treatment and so the Nazi armies found themselves unable to fight in the cold and snow in deeper in Russia.

They started to retreat and they found themselves with an army in the front and an army in the back.

The partisans had managed to equip themselves by uh taking over some of the uh supplies that were being sent to the front lines by um dislodging the rails and um the trains would go off the track and they managed to loot some of the ammunition from those trains.

Bill: Right.

Rae: So we found ourselves caught. The partisans dispersed amongst the population, we were caught by the Nazis and of all places brought back to our hometown with the rest of the villagers. They took all the villagers and they were, they separated the men from the women, they were, their way of trying to diminish the fighting force.

Some of the partisans were able to fight, to pass themselves off as farmers and some of them had managed to escape I don't know what happened to them. But we were caught, we were with the women.

Bill: And so this, they're trying, the Nazis now are trying to find the partisans.

So they think you're part of the partisans potentially.

Rae: Um not the, they didn't think that women were part of the partisans but they had to clear the areas and so they took us out.

So they could hunt down the partisans and we were all in a warehouse in our hometown.

The men were separated and the women were all in the warehouse however, there were still some boys some young, young men I will call them, boys that were older but not quite grown men.

And so they started to separate the women from the males. I got put my, because I, I had no hair on my head, I was clean-shaven, bald and dressed as a boy and they decided that they have to decide, decide whether I'm a girl or a boy. And I heard them arguing in German which is similar to Yiddish, which I spoke well and I picked up some German, too that I'm a girl or a boy.

After a while they decided I was a boy and started to send me to the male part. Needless to say I knew I couldn't survive.

Not, not without my mother and I just uttered the one word mädchen they put me under the gallows, claiming I'm Jewish then and they were going to hang me. Word got to my mother she very quickly came out and started to argue that I'm her daughter, I'm a girl they can examine me, and that if they are going to hang me to hang her first because she doesn't want to see her child die.

Somehow she managed to convince them and they let us go.

Bill: And, and she convinced them that she you were in fact...

Rae: That I was her daughter and I was not a boy. She told them that she was a laundress for the Germans and she did a good job for them, they could put her to work again.

However they were not interested in that they were trying to retreat they just wanted to make sure that nobody was going to interfere.

Bill: And Rae after, after your mom did that, you know again she just seized the moment and saved your life and hers, you would then find your way back to the partisans.

Is that correct?

Rae: Well not right away. We found ourselves with the villagers, we had no village to return to. So my mother decided to name a village that was very far away and close to the front lines. So we kind of were taken in by villagers staying here and there and traveling on, not to stay too long in one place and be recognized because my mother had a very recognizable face.

Eventually one of the villagers learned that my mother was recognized.

She told my mother she knew who she was but she wasn't going to expose her.

But she warned her to make herself scarce because there is grumbling amongst the women there that she was Jewish and they should tell the Nazis about it.

Needless to say we went into flight again.

Eventually managed to connect with some of the partisans and learned that some of the areas have been liberated by the Russian Armies and we ended up back in Glebokie.

Bill: Following your liberation you and your mother made your way to Italy and I know it was a tremendous journey across much of Europe, that we could spend a lot of time just talking about. And while you were crossing the Alps on May 8, 1945 on foot going over the Alps, you learn the war, uh the war was over.

And then you and your mother would go on to um spend time in two displaced persons camps or dp camps. Tell us about um one realizing that the war was over and then just tell us about what life was like for you in the displaced persons camp.

Rae: We managed to get some help from organizations that were trying to help the Jews get out of Poland which was very still, still very belligerent toward the Jews and many were killed after the war. We traveled across Europe sometimes with, on some sort of transportation, sometimes on foot and we had to get out of the Russian zones. We came through the Pass the Alpine Pass into Italy from Austria and were met, we actually met the Hebrew Brigade that was fighting against the Nazis, Jewish soldiers that were fighting against the Nazis. We saw the blue and white flag with the Star of David on it and learned that the war had ended just the day before. It was a very joyous occasion.

We were transferred to a displaced, to two displaced persons camps. First to Modena and into quonset huts and then into a area in Southern Italy right on the heel called Santa Cesarea.

This is a picture in Santa Cesarea. It was a tropical area, it was mostly a resort place. We were housed in some villas that were vacant at the time and we stayed there. This was well organized, we even had a school.

Bill: And Rae this is you and your mother right?

Rae: That's my mother and I right before we left Santa Cesarea.

Bill: And, and tell us about this this amazing wonderful photograph.

Rae: The school was organized for us, books were supplied, all kinds of books not necessarily um school books, just reading material and the school was organized so that the older children or some young adults who had more education shared with us what, what knowledge they had.

We even had somebody from Yugoslavia that tried to teach us English. I won't tell you how it came out. We were there until we finally were able to contact my aunt and she was able to issue an invitation to come to the United States. She applied for a visa for us and then we were transferred to Bari.

Bill: And we have a postcard from Bari I think right?

Rae: Yep and this is the housing that we had in Bari. They were basically military barracks and we slept on cots. All I can say is in Santa Cesarea as well as in Bari, my bed was a cot, an army cot.

Bill: And what, what do you remember about those times in those two camps? What, what do you most recall feeling about that time?

Rae: The Italian people were very kind. I remember many things of kindness from the Italian population, uh there was even a woman that I got to know through her son because he liked to read and would join me in in one of the trees where I searched for shade. When we became friendly and invited me to Rome, she had a small hotel on Via Nazionale.

Not only did she invite me to Rome, but she also took me to an opera and she picked one that I would be familiar with, Samson and Delilah of store, a biblical story that I knew very well.

Bill: That was your first opera?

Rae: That was my first opera, but a wonderful experience in Italy.

It was totally different from what I experienced in my home area.

Bill: I was struck when you told me once you were in the displaced persons camps about your memories about just taking a book and going and sitting in an olive tree or a fig tree and just being able to escape and read at that time. Rae um did, did your mother or you, were you ever able to find a record of what happened to your brother Shlomo?

Rae: Never able to find anything. There are no records in Belarus about how many people perished. The Nazis kept names and numbers of the people that they had uh taken to camps.

Their records are very extensive, however there's no records of anybody that was killed in the areas where they just took people to some sort of a pit and shot them.

Bill: Rae you're, you're so exactly right about the lack of records. You know, we know that the Germans kept detailed records of many aspects of the Holocaust. For instance they kept deportation lists and records of those who died in concentration camps, but as you noted the Germans did not keep lists of those that were killed in the mass killings in Eastern Europe or the manner in which your brother was killed. They only reported numbers back to Germany. After the war survivors from Eastern Europe attempted to document the names of those murdered in these massacres.

We have, Rae, we have another photograph here which is what got you to the United States, help get you the United States. Tell us about this.

Rae: This is a passport issued to survivors who were not able to get any records from anywhere.

And we needed a passport to come to the United States, to obtain our visas and the stamps here are the different, you see a stamp from Napoli, uh this was from the consulate where my mother had pleaded to allow us to come on the Russian visa because the Polish visa was so crowded.

And she was born, where she was born it was Russia, when she was born in 1906 it was Russia.

Bill: One more question for you today. In the face of rising global antisemitism please tell us why you continue to share your first-hand account of what you experienced during the Holocaust.

Rae: Double reason. One is because I hope the experiences that I had will never be repeated.

That my grandchildren and their children will not know the hate that I had experienced.

History they say always can repeat itself. Please don't repeat that. I also feel that as a survivor, as probably at this point the only survivor from my area, from my town where three thousand people were killed, have no one to speak for them.

My experiences tell of their experiences and how they perished. Please don't allow anything like that to happen again. Hate is very destructive.

Bill: Rae thank you so much for sharing those thoughts but also for everything you've shared with us today as our first person. You've given us an incredible glimpse at your mother, what a remarkable, remarkable uh woman. Brave, resilient, strong, determined um and uh and, and she clearly raised a daughter who's very much like that from what I know of you. Rae thank you so much. I would also like to take a moment to thank our donors.

First Person is made possible through generous support from the Lewis Franklin Smith Foundation with additional funding from the Arlene and Daniel Fisher Foundation.

This conversation has been edited in length for educational and classroom use. View the full First Person: Conversations with Holocaust Survivors program here.