The Malta Independent 21 March 2023, Tuesday
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Testimonies of Holocaust Survivors

Marie Benoît Tuesday, 31 January 2023, 11:39 Last update: about 3 months ago

Arie Shilansky was born in 1928 in the town of Siauliai, Lithuania, to a Zionist family, the youngest of four children. His father, Yosef Zvi Shilansky, died when he was born. In June 1941, the Germans invaded and occupied Lithuania. A few weeks later, a ghetto was established in Siauliai, and Arie and his family were imprisoned there. "In the ghetto, we lived a life of hunger and humiliation," Arie later recalled. "I remember the horror of the public hanging of Bezalel Mazowiecki, who tried to smuggle food and cigarettes."


Arie and Ruth have three children, six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Manya Bigunov was born in 1927 in the Ukrainian city of Teplyk, the youngest of Nahum and Frima's three children.

After the war, Manya worked tirelessly to preserve the memory of the Jews of Teplyk who were murdered in the Holocaust. She immediately began to write about the experiences of her Jewish community.

She was also active in a group that erected a monument to the Jews of Teplyk and held memorial ceremonies there. In 1992, Manya immigrated to Israel with her daughter and two granddaughters. Manya Bigunov has told her story to thousands of schoolchildren, students and teachers.

Rebecca-Branca Lissauer (later Elizur) was born in 1934 in Amsterdam, to Jack, a textile merchant, and Rosalie-Rachel. She had an older brother, Joop-Joshua.

 After liberation, the family returned to Amsterdam. Later, as part of her social work studies, Rebecca chose to specialize in Israel. In 1959, she immigrated to Israel and worked, among other things, supporting Dutch immigrants. Rebecca and Dov have two daughters, nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Sara Fishman (née Berkovich) was born in 1927 in Neresnice, in the Transcarpathia region of Czechoslovakia (today Neresnytsya, Ukraine), to a Hasidic family of ten.

In Czechoslovakia, Sara was trained to use weapons, and in early 1949 immigrated to Israel on an arms ship. She served in the IDF during the War of Independence. In Israel, Sara set up a successful knitting factory. Sara has been telling her story for years to thousands of people, both in person and through online meetings. Sara and Yoel have two children, five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Shaul Spielmann was born in 1931 in Vienna, Austria, the only son of Benno, an engineer at the Austrian Electric Company, and Jossefa, a pianist who ran the family-owned delicatessen.

 Shaul was liberated by the US Army in the Gunskirchen camp while suffering from typhus. After recovering, he immigrated to Eretz Israel (Mandatory Palestine) and volunteered for the Palmach. He fought and was wounded in the War of Independence. He fought in all the subsequent Israeli wars until the Yom Kippur War. He worked in Magen David Adom in the Negev area, saving many lives and training the younger generations. Shaul and Myriam have seven children, 18 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Zvi Glazer (later Gill) was born in 1928 in the city of Zduńska Wola, Poland, to Israel and Ester, wealthy ultra-Orthodox Jews. He had two younger brothers, Arieh-Leib and Shmuel.

 In 1945, shortly before boarding a ship sailing from Italy to Eretz Israel (Mandatory Palestine), he learned that his mother had survived. She joined him in 1947. Zvi fought in the War of Independence. He later became a writer, a senior journalist with the Israel Broadcasting Authority, and one of the founders of Israeli television. Zvi and Yehudith have three daughters, ten grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Shmuel Naar was born in 1924 in Thessaloniki, Greece, to a family of 11 people. His father Shlomo was a journalist for local Jewish newspapers. Shmuel attended the Jewish school in Thessaloniki.

 He was employed in forestry work by the Jewish National Fund. He then started a small business, where he worked with his wife until the age of 90. Shmuel and Miriam have three children, ten grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren.

Olga Kay (née Czik) was born in 1926 in the town of Ujfeherto, Hungary, the ninth of ten siblings. The family, which was observant, was supported by her father Eliyahu's shoe store. Her brothers studied in Heder, and on Sundays they learned Hebrew.

 At liberation, Eva was extremely sick, and died in Bergen-Belsen. Olga's sisters Adele and Bori survived in the Ravensbrück camp. After the war, Olga and Bella were taken to Sweden to recuperate. From there they immigrated to New York, where Olga met her husband and started a family. "When my daughter Evelyn was born, my first thought was: This is my victory over Hitler. We have returned from the ashes." In 1985, Olga and her family followed their daughter to live in Israel. Olga and Georgel have two daughters, five grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

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