Oral History Interview with Malvina Herzfeld

Malvina Herzfeld, born in Zurich, Switzerland in 1914, describes living in Tsobut, Danzig from 1924 to 1936; moving to Holland, where she married Martin Sternfeld, a German lawyer, in December 1937; the German invasion of Holland in May 1940; the establishment of Westerbork transit camp for German Jewish refugees; her husband’s arrest by the SS during a roundup of Jewish men in 1941 and deportation a camp in Holland and then to Mauthausen concentration camp; receiving her husband’s death certificate in September 1941; working for the Jewish Council; being arrested and released; being helped and hidden by a non-Jewish Dutch neighbor; agreeing to work with the Dutch underground, led by Walter Suskind; how her group saved Jewish children, who had been taken from their parents during the transports; working as a courier to the Hague and Westerbork and trying to rescue Jewish boys when she was arrested by the SS, put into solitary confinement, and tortured; not talking and being sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where she encountered Hans Totman, a Jewish war criminal who worked for the Germans; her arrival and the selection process; the living and working conditions in Birkenau; working as a secretary for the Oberscharfurer at Budy together with an other Jewish girl; how they narrowly escaped being sent to the crematorium for stealing food; the liquidation of Auschwitz in January 1945 and being sent on a death march to Bergen-Belsen, where she stayed until April 1945 during a typhoid epidemic; being liberated by British troops; the punishment of the guards, the hanging of the camp commanders, and the post-liberation conditions; how the British took survivors to a military camp until displaced persons camps were established; working for the British army as a translator and having a brief reunion with her brother, who served in the British Army; not getting permission to join her brother in England; being sent to Holland and quarantined; staying in Holland until 1947 and her attempts to find out what happened to her family and her husband; locating friends from the underground; how she located the Jewish girl from Budy after the war; and immigrating to the United States in 1947.

Date: 12/23/1982
Interviewer: Marian Salkin
Interviewee: Malvina Herzfeld
Language: English
Subject: Concentration camp inmates--Selection process.
Death march survivors.
Death marches.
Forced labor.
Guerrilla couriers.
Hiding places--Netherlands.
Holocaust survivors.
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Personal narratives.
Jewish children--Netherlands.
Jewish councils--Netherlands.
Jewish women in the Holocaust.
Typhoid fever.
Women concentration camp inmates.
World War, 1939-1945--Concentration camps--Liberation.
World War, 1939-1945--Conscript labor.
World War, 1939-1945--Deportations from Netherlands.
World War, 1939-1945--Jews--Rescue--Netherlands.
World War, 1939-1945--Underground movements--Netherlands.
World War, 1939-1945--Underground movements--Personal narratives.
World War, 1939-1945--War work--Netherlands.
Women--Personal narratives.
Location: Zurich, Switzerland
Gdansk, Poland
Holland, Netherlands
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Westerbork concentration camp
Auschwitz II-Birkenau concentration camp
Buchenwald concentration camp
Bergen-Belsen concentration camp
Permalink: https://hoha.digitalcollections.gratzcollege.edu/item/oral-history-interview-with-malvina-herzfeld/