Jewish survivors of the Holocaust

Birkin, Edith, 1927- (6 of 17)

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  • Type

    sound

  • Duration

    00:30:37

  • Shelf mark

    C0410/030

  • Recording date

    1989-02-18 and 1989-07-01

  • Is part of (Collection)

    The Living Memory of the Jewish Community

  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home

  • Interviewees

    Birkin, Edith, 1927- (speaker, female)

  • Interviewers

    Thompson, Katherine (speaker, female)

  • Recordist

    Thompson, Katherine

  • Abstract

    Part 6: Arrival to a camp called Kristianstadt-Grassrosen. Description of camp routine life and work. First job of digging clay for brick factory. One day off from work - about relaxation and clothes. A different work latter clearing the forest and in winter she worked in ammunition factory - attempts of sabotage. Singing parodies while marching to work. Communication with other prisoners. Stealing of food and some knickers. Sudden epidemic of 'epileptic fits' and hospitalisation. Search for stolen goods - punishment. Group of 11 friends. January 1945, the Germans moved the prisoners and that was the beginning of the 'Death March'. Description of the march.

  • Description

    Interviewee's note: Describes early life; born in Prague. Family background, grandparents, family name was Hoffmann. Earliest memories, Jewish school, teaching methods. Arrival of Germans in Czechoslovakia; effect on schooling; father lost his job. Train to Lodz Ghetto. Life in the ghetto. Death of parents and the effect on her; she worked in a tailoring factory; memory of hearing gunfire of approaching Russians. Summer 1944, evacuation from the ghetto; taken by cattle truck to Auschwitz. Description of conditions and routines there. January 1945, the Germans moved prisoners out, beginning of the death march. Description of death march; birth of a baby, joy of hearing bombing outside Dresden. Arrival in Flossenburg camp in March 1945, 10 days there, then by coal truck to Belsen. Details of arrival in Belsen and conditions there; food, gypsies, typhus. Arrival and reactions of the British Army. The Germans forced to clear away the dead. The camp was burned, prisoners re-housed and cleaned. She was filmed for newsreel a few days after liberation. Edith had contracted typhus and was sent to the hospital. Entertainment in the hospital (Scottish dancing and a visit by Yehudi Menuhin). Journey back to Prague; Russian soldiers in Prague. Loneliness; loss of her family and belongings. Decided to go to UK in 1946; impressions. Went to Belfast by boat to visit her sister; attended high school in Londonderry. There was a Jewish community there. She did a teachers' training course in London. After that she worked in Hendon and Edgware. She married in 1962 to a non-Jewish man; they were unable to have children so they adopted two boys, and a girl. She dedicated herself to her family thereafter. She started painting based on the concentration camp experiences; it had a therapeutic effect on her. She exhibited and sold her work. Talks about her paintings, and about being lucky to have survived the holocaust.

  • Related transcripts

    Full transcript of the interview

  • Related links

    Voices of the Holocaust - link to learning materials based on the moving stories of Jewish Holocaust Survivors on the British Library Website

  • Metadata record:

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Birkin, Edith, 1927- (6 of 17)

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