Witnesses to History Keepers of Memory
Witnesses to History Keepers of Memory
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Leo Dortort

Franz and Anna

Leo Dortort has just a few photographs of his parents, Franz and Anna, including the following two taken in the early 1920s. Anna’s picture was taken in Graz (Austria) and Franz’s in Bratislava (Slovakia). After they married, Leo’s parents owned a haberdashery and a millinery shop. In 1941, at the end of a long period on the run, Franz was killed in Šabac (Serbia) and Anna at the Sajmište concentration camp (Serbia). Left an orphan, Leo was sent to Palestine where he was reunited with his sister.

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Let’s start with this one, this photo.
My mother before she was married. She left Budapest after World War I because her siblings
were already in Graz and her mother was in Graz. My father moved first to Bratislava. He worked there for a while, and then he came to Graz and they got married. His profession
was a printer, and he had a friend who had a print shop. So, when my mother moved to Graz, he moved
to Slovakia, to Bratislava, and then he came to Graz. My sister was born in 1924, and I was born in 1928.
How long did you stay there in Graz?
10 and a half years, since from the time I was born.
And then what happened?
Graz is 20 kilometers from Yugoslavia, the border. The oldest brother of my mother, he escaped earlier
already. He paid for the smugglers and my parents, my mother, and two of her brothers came with us.
Yugoslavia decided to let us stay in Yugoslavia officially. But we had no papers, nothing. The Jewish
community was supposed to take care of us, and then came a communiqué that there is an illegal
transport for Palestine, and they still had 150 places. We arrived in Belgrade and nobody
waited for us. The police came, detectives came. They took us overnight to Kladovo. We
stayed a few months, and then they moved the whole group into a bigger town called Šabac.
The Germans took about 5,000 Yugoslavs and with this group they took all the men from the transport
and they killed them. So, my father was shot over there.
The women were taken near Belgrade to another place, and they brought from Poland one of the gas
trucks. They killed them in the truck. But my mother is not on the list. When I was in Belgrade, I found
out that she is on the list of Brčko. Brčko was another village where 200
Austrian refugees were housed, and all her sisters and brothers were there. And in Brčko it was terrible
what they did. In December 1941 or 42, I don’t remember exactly offhand, they came one day and they
picked up all these 200 Austrians and 100 local Jews from Yugoslavia. Brčko is on the Sava, so the bridge
is over. They got them on the bridge, they closed it and they hammered them to death.

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Fajga and her children on a bench