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Dorianne Kurz

Vienna, Austria

Under the rule of Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss, who came to power in 1932, Jews in Austria enjoyed relative freedom and equality. For that reason, Doriane's Polish-born parents settled in Vienna, where her father ran a thriving branch of the family's multinational optical frames business.

1933-39: I was born in Vienna just two years before the Germans annexed Austria in 1938. Our family fled to the Netherlands soon after the annexation. Unlike many Austrian Jews, we went south to Maastricht on the Belgian border; Maastricht was the site of the Dutch branch of the Kurz Brothers' optical frames business. There, I attended nursery school.

1940-45: In 1940 we moved to Amsterdam, but the city soon fell under German occupation. With my father already in Auschwitz, my mother, brother Freddie and I ended up in Bergen-Belsen in 1944. Freddie and I would remain in the barracks when the adults were marched to work. We started the day by watching the carts, drawn by inmates, that came every morning to collect the dead bodies. The rest of the day we spent speaking about food, slicing our bread rations so they could last longer, and picking the lice out of our hair.

In June 1945 Doriane was one of many inmates evacuated from the camp on cattle trains and then freed by Soviet troops. A year later, she settled in the United States.

 

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