Oral History Interview with Gabriela Truly

Gabriela Truly, née Braun, was born January 7, 1916 in Levoča, Czechoslovakia, where her family had lived since the first half of the 18th century. She and her five siblings were active in Zionist groups. In 1939, as Slovak nationalists allied with the Axis, restrictions were placed on Jews. Her father’s tinsmithing shop was taken over by the State in 1940. In 1942, Mrs. Truly was rounded up with 1000 single girls aged 14-40, from surrounding areas and sent in the first transport to Auschwitz. She describes the dehumanizing intake process and the difficult life in the camps. Later, when mothers were brought with small children to a separate block, her sister and her 4 ½ year old son were among the first to be gassed in Auschwitz. Mrs. Truly describes the drive of self-preservation, of caring only for yourself, although she narrates many incidents in which she aided others and others aided her. Later in 1942, she was moved to Birkenau, and became very ill with typhus, diarrhea and a badly infected foot. In February 1943 she was hospitalized back in Auschwitz. Mrs. Truly categorizes which jobs were easier to survive and which more difficult. Again, aided by a hairdresser named Monsi, she gets a job first knitting for commandant Hoess, then filing in the personnel building. She was told permits to go to Israel had mysteriously come to Auschwitz, but nothing happened. On January 18, 1944, she was taken on a three day death march, and then near Ravensbrück, where she saw her mother for the last time. Next, they were taken to Malchow where she later met up with the younger sister of her sister-in-law. Eventually, she came to Crivitz and witnessed rape by Russian soldiers. Three brothers and one sister with two children had also survived. At last she went to Prague, where in 1948 she left for New York to live with a brother. She married an American-born Jew and remained in New York.

Date: 05/27/1990
Interviewer: Edith Millman
Interviewee: Gabriela Truly
Language: English
Subject: Concentration camp inmates--Selection process.
Death march survivors.
Death marches.
Foot--Wounds and injuries--Poland.
Holocaust survivors.
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Personal narratives.
Jewish women in the Holocaust.
Jewish youth--Europe--Societies and clubs.
Soldiers--Soviet Union.
Typhus fever.
Women concentration camp inmates.
World War, 1939-1945--Deportations from Czechoslovakia.
Women--Personal narratives.
Location: Levoča, Slovakia
Auschwitz concentration camp
Auschwitz II-Birkenau concentration camp
Ravensbrück concentration camp
Malchow concentration camp
Krewitz, Germany
Prague, Czechia
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