A Thousand Days in the Life of a Deportee Who Was Lucky
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Holocaust survivors often say that the circumstances in which they defied death were a matter of sheer luck. They also mention the random, arbitrary nature of the Nazi concentration camp system. Theodore Woda puts luck at the heart of his story, showing that, although the Third Reich was intent on destroying all the Jews of Europe, gas chambers or a slow death by starvation and/or mistreatment did not always lie at the end of the road.
It cannot really be said that luck was on Theodore’s side when the Gestapo arrested him during a spot check for the sole crime of being Jewish and deported him from the Drancy camp on transport 33. His “luck”, then, was relative. It came into play when the train taking him to the Auschwitz extermination camp stopped at the railway station in Opole, where he and some fellow deportees were selected for slave labor. But during the 32 months he spent in three slave labor and two concentration camps in Silesia, Theodore’s “luck” did not keep him safe from hunger, beatings, unhygienic conditions and abuse. As he relates in plain, matter-of-fact words, he was “lucky” to work in workshops, know German and possess the resourcefulness to live by his wits. Under those circumstances, he managed not only to find food to supplement his insufficient diet, but to correspond with his family and even receive parcels sent to him under the names of men in the STO (the French acronym for Service de travail obligatoire, or Compulsory Labor Service).
In sum, he was “lucky” to return alive from the maelstrom that claimed the lives of his mother, two of his brothers, one of his sisters, his uncle and his aunt. His testimonial has been unpublished until now.



Publié par
Date de parution 30 mars 2016
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9782304045659
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 2 Mo

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Theodore Woda
A Thousand Days in the Life of a Deportee Who Was Lucky
Translation from French: Glenn Naumovitz

Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah

Editions du Manuscrit 2016

The illustrations are from the Woda archives except photographs of Drancy from the Mémorial de la Shoah, Paris.
“Eyewitness Accounts of the Shoah”
A series published for the Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah, Paris  (Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah) 

With its “Eyewitness Accounts of the Shoah” published in association with Editions Le Manuscrit using the latest communication technology, the Foundation seeks to preserve for a wide readership the memory of victims and witnesses of the dark years of anti-Semitic persecution from 1933 to 1945.
In addition to the many works already published elsewhere, the Foundation hopes in this way to present the stories of those men and women whose voices have remained unheard until now: reminiscences often buried deep inside individual or family memories, stories sometimes written down but never published, accounts that were published at the time of leaving the hell of the camps, only to remain for too long hidden away on library shelves.
If one person alone cannot describe the unspeakable, this multiplicity of accounts may at least get close.
At any rate, that is the aim this collection has set itself with the moral and historical support of the Foundation, thanks to its editorial board of scholars and eyewitnesses.
Confronted with the manner in which present-day conflicts may be exploited to obscure, distort and trivialize the reality of the Shoah, this collection will enable readers, rsearchers and students to gauge the specific nature of persecution in its most extreme form – a persecution in which some were actors, others accomplices, and to which some people remained indifferent while others were truly heroic.
It is our wish that these works may encourage a spirit of fraternity in moving readers to counter anti-Semitism and all other forms of exclusion. 
Visit the Internet site of the Foundation of the Memory of the Shoah: www.fondationshoah.org 
Editorial Board for the Collection


Serge Klarsfeld, president
Henri Borlant, deportation survivor
Isabelle Choko, deportation survivor
Olivier Coquard, historian
Katy Hazan (OSE), historian
Dominique Missika, historian
Denis Peschanski, historian
Paul Schaffer, deportation survivor
Annette Zaidman, hidden child
Philippe Weyl, head of the collection 

Photograph of the Woda family in Mordy, Poland, around 1890.
Left to right: Théodore’s aunt, Shprintze (born in 1899, died in Auschwitz in 1942), his grandmother, Pesa (born Finifter in 1874, died in 1940), his grandfather, Berko (born in 1869, died in 1940) and his father, Simon (born in 1882,  died Paris on January 30, 1941). 


Théodore Woda in 1916. 


Théodore Woda on May 29, 1919. (the cigarette is a rolled up piece of paper)


Théodore Woda on February 28, 1920.
Biography of Théodore Woda 


December18: Théodore Woda is born into a family of craftsmen in Warsaw, Poland. His father, Simon (born in Mordy, Poland 1892), married Raca Krutchik (born in Warsaw in 1896) the previous year.
August 28: his brother Jacques is born in Siedlce, Poland.
February 25: his brother Maurice is born in Siedlce.
March 2: his sister Jeannette is born in Siedlce.
The Woda family immigrates to Paris because of the economic crisis in Poland.
March 3: his sister Raymonde is born in Paris.
August 27: his brother Charles is born in Paris.
June: Théodore graduates from the vocational school on avenue Trudaine in the Ninth Arrondissement of Paris. He finds a job as an accountant at the Bernholc Company, a women’s garment manufacturer.
The Woda family’s naturalization applications — except for Raymonde’s and Charles’, who were born in Paris — is “temporarily” rejected after a three-year process.

​ Théodore’s parents open a fur store and workshop at 83 rue de Belleville (20th arrondissement) and sign a lease on an apartment nearby at 12 villa Ottoz, whose entrance is at 43 rue Piat.
 July 26: Théodore becomes a naturalized French citizen.
September 3: France and the United Kingdom declare war on Nazi Germany after its invasion of Poland. Théodore is mobilized but France is defeated before he can be sent to the front.
May: the German army invades France. Théodore flees to the home of his employer’s parents in Rocamadour (Lot).
September: Théodore clandestinely crosses the demarcation line, returns to Paris and finds a job as a bookkeeper. His parents make ready-to-wear rabbit-skin jackets for the German army.
He is affected by the discriminatory laws against Jews.
January30: Théodore’s father dies at the age of 49 after falling into a diabetic coma.
He and his mother make ready-to-wear jackets in the workshop, which has been moved into their villa Ottoz apartment.

July 16: the Vél’ d’Hiv’ roundup. Théodore’s mother, 17-year-old sister Jeannette and 11-year-old brother Charles, who was born in France and is not on the list, are arrested and held at the Vélodrome d’Hiver. The mother is separated from the children and transferred to the Beaune-la-Rolande camp (Loiret), where she meets her sister-in-law.
July 31: Jeannette is deported from the Pithiviers camp (Loiret) to Auschwitz on transport 13. Her official date of death is the following December 10, at the age of 17.
August 7: his mother is deported from Pithiviers to Auschwitz on transport 16. Her official date of death is October 20, 1942, at the age of 46.
August 17: his little brother Charles is deported from Drancy to Auschwitz on transport 20 and gassed immediately upon his arrival on August 22.
September 12: during a random ID check, the Gestapo arrests Théodore in Sevran (in present-day Seine-Saint-Denis) and he is interned in the Drancy camp (in the same department).
September 16: he is deported to the Auschwitz extermination camp on transport 33.
September 19: Théodore is selected on the platform of the Opole railway station in Silesia, Poland and put on a train that takes three days to reach a transit camp.
September 27: he is in a small transit camp.
October 6: Théodore arrives at the Mechtal forced labor camp (ZAL) in Upper Silesia, Poland. He works first as a laborer, then as an electrician.

Early November: his brother Maurice is arrested on the street and interned at the Drancy camp. He is deported on November 11 on transport 45. His official date of death is March 10, 1943 at the age of 20.
May 6: Théodore manages to smuggle a letter out to his family in Paris with the help of his boss, who is interested in the prospect of receiving tools.
September 2–3: the Mechtal ZAL is dissolved; Théodore is sent to the Klein Mangelsdorff camp for a week.
September 10: he is transferred to the Faulbruck ZAL (Upper Silesia, Poland) and joins a commando of electricians.
December 16: the ZAL is dissolved.
December 17: Théodore is sent to the Gross Maslevitz concentration camp (KL). He still works at the same factory (it is closer) as an electrician.
February17: he is transferred to the Langenbielau camp (Silesia, Poland) after spending a week in the town hall.
May 8: end of the Second World War. The guards leave. Théodore is free. He goes to the town of Langenbielau, where he sees Soviet soldiers passing by.

May 9: he goes to Reichenbach and stays with friends in a house. The Soviets occupy the area.
May 11: Théodore and his friends leave on bicycles for Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic). He reaches Prague by train three days later.
May 16: he arrives by train in Pilsen (now in the Czech Republic) and enters a camp set up by American troops. Although sick, the next day he manages to board an American truck bound for Wurzburg (Bavaria, Germany). From there he goes to France by train.
May 24: Théodore arrives in Metz (Moselle), where he receives medical care.
May 27: he takes a train to Paris. After being processed at the Hotel Lutetia, he moves in with his brother Jacques and his sister-in-law Christiane at 342 rue des Pyrénées in the 20th arrondissement.
September 11: Théodore marries Paulette Jabtko at the town hall of the 11th arrondissement.
Théodore and Paulette recover the family apartment at 12 villa Ottoz.
Théodore recovers his parents’ fur shop at 83 rue de Belleville.
Their daughter Agnès is born in Paris.
December 13: their granddaughter Sophie is born in Paris.

December 31: Théodore retires.

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