Oral History Interview with Mina Kalter

Mina Kalter (née Basseches), born in 1921 in Przeworsk, Poland, describes being raised in a religious family; her father, who was a traveling merchant, and her mother, who worked in retail fabrics; how both her parents were active in Zionist organizations and charitable endeavors and on good terms with their Christian neighbors until 1939; the extensive work of the Kehillah in helping those in need; life after the German invasion of Poland in 1939; the bombing and desecration of the synagogue; forced labor and the confiscation of Jewish property; all Jews being forced into a ghetto; the lack of help from former Christian friends; conditions in the ghetto; smuggling her small brother to the home of a loyal former family housekeeper; escaping from a work detail in March 1941; crossing the River San to Soviet-controlled Poland, where she was helped by a Russian Jewish family prior to being resettled in a small town near Lvov (L’viv, Ukraine); life under Soviet rule in Poland; being exiled to Siberia because she refused to accept Soviet citizenship; the transport to the labor camp, where she lived for four years, until May 1945; her clandestine trip outside the Siberian camp to obtain potatoes for planting; receiving permission by mail to return to Poland in March 1945; working her way across Siberia toward Poland with her husband in June 1945, where she experienced antisemitism; receiving help from the Joint Distribution Committee in Szczecin, Poland that her two brothers were alive and joining them in a displaced persons camp in Berlin, Germany in August 1945; the living conditions with her new born baby; staying in another camp near Landsberg, Germany in 1948; immigrating with her family to the United States in 1950; her adjustment to life in the US; her children’s awareness of their parents’ background and their commitment to Judaism; and her hope that her testimony will remind future generations of the horrors of the Hitler years.

Date: 02/18/1986
Interviewer: Ellen Rofman
Interviewee: Mina Kalter
Language: English
Subject: Americanization.
Faith (Judaism)
Forced labor.
Hidden children (Holocaust)--Poland.
Holocaust survivors--United States.
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Poland--Personal narratives.
Jewish ghettos--Poland--Przeworsk.
Jewish property--Poland--Przeworsk.
Jewish refugees--Germany.
Jewish refugees--Ukraine.
Jewish women in the Holocaust.
Refugee camps--Germany--Berlin.
Refugee children--Care.
Synagogues--Destruction and pillage.
Women concentration camp inmates.
World War, 1939-1945--Concentration camps--Russia (Federation)--Siberia.
World War, 1939-1945--Conscript labor.
World War, 1939-1945--Deportations from Ukraine.
World War, 1939-1945--Destruction and pillage--Poland.
Women--Personal narratives.
Berlin (Germany)
L'viv (Ukraine)
Landsberg am Lech (Germany)
Poland--History--Occupation, 1939-1945.
Przeworsk (Poland)
San River (Poland and Ukraine)
Siberia (Russia)
Szczecin (Poland)
United States--Emigration and immigration.
World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--Poland.
Kalter, Mina, 1921-
Landsberg am Lech (Displaced persons camp)
Location: Przeworsk, Poland
Przeworsk Ghetto
Lviv, Ukraine
Siberia, Russia
Berlin displaced persons camp
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