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Aron Tabrys

Vilna, Poland

 

Aron was the second of six children born to Jewish parents in Vilna, a city known as a center of Jewish cultural life. He was called Arke by his friends and family. Aron's father supported his large family on the meager income of a chimney sweep.

1933-39: As a child I attended a Jewish day school, and then went on to attend a public secondary school. When I was 14 my father had an accident which rendered him blind, and I had to start working full-time to support the family. I belonged to an underground communist group because I saw communism as a way of combatting the antisemitism in Poland. Our life in Vilna was disrupted in fall 1939 when the Soviets occupied the city.

 

 

 

1940-45: The Germans occupied Vilna in June 1941. On September 6 that year I was forced into the Vilna ghetto for two years. Two weeks before the ghetto was liquidated in 1943, I was deported to a labor camp in Estonia. Over the next year I was transferred to six labor camps, and then for 9 months to the Dautmergen concentration camp in Bavaria. We had 1,000 people in a barn-like barracks. In the middle of the room was a pot-bellied stove where we'd gather in the evening so that the lice which infested our bodies would die from the heat.

Aron survived life in the camps. He weighed 90 pounds when he was liberated in May 1945 on a transport from the Dachau concentration camp to the Alps. He emigrated to America in 1949.

 

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