Youra, Albert

Youra, Albert

Dabrowa (Poland), Breslau, Auenrode, Tarnowskie Gory, Kittlitztreben, Buchenwald, Theresienstadt

Mr. Youra was born in 1922.  His parents were Yankel and Reisl and they owned a general store. Mrs. Youra also sold merchandise to factory workers.  Because of high taxes, the Youras had to close their business in the thirties.

Albert had four brothers and one sister, Rivka, who was the oldest in the family.  Albert went to cheder (Hebrew school) followed by public school for seven years.  Rivka married in 1938 and had a baby daughter.

The Youras lived in Dabrowa which was a factory town with steel mills and coal mines.  Albert belonged to many Zionist organizations and everyone observed the Sabbath.  On Friday evening, the men went to a shtiebel to pray and then went home to eat a big dinner consisting of fish, soup, matzah balls and chicken.  Although his mother wore a sheital, she was not as religious as her husband.

Albert remembers all of his grandparents and great grandparents.  They were a close and happy family before the war.

In September of 1939, war broke out and the family traveled thirty kilometers east to get away from the Germans, but after a while, went back home.  When they arrived, the Germans cut off Yankel’s beard and the oldest three brothers left for the Russian border.

Albert went to work, cleaning the streets and the snow in the winter months, leaving for Kattowice where he continued cleaning streets until October, 1940.  His father went into hiding.

Albert then went to Breslau where small camps were being built.  The men had to cut down trees by hand,

clean out the swamps and bring in sand for the purpose of building an autobahn.  There were six to seven hundred prisoners working.  Next they built a railroad.  Albert became an assistant machinist until June, 1941.

One day, his camp, Auenrode, was to be evacuated and they were all sent to the Eastern front going toward Stalingrad.

He was next in Tarnowskie Gory, where he loaded coal until the fall of 1943 when one hundred thirty prisoners were sent to Gross Pogel.  They ate and slept in a factory and Albert burried the dead prisoners.  When asked if he made any friends, Albert said “You made it your business not to get friendly with anybody.”

In 1943 until February, 1945, Albert was sent to Kittlitztreben to work in a weapons factory and also unload trains.   The Russians were now closing in and he left on the march to Buchenwald.  On the way, they marched barefoot and slept in barns. Before they reached Dresden, there was an air raid and the city was flattened in a matter of minutes.

Arriving in Buchenwald, Albert walked with a rabbi who never ate anything because it was Passover.  They arrived in Buchenwald on April 15th and stayed two days.  The Allies flew over the camp and dropped food.

Then they were marched to Vimach (?) and put on trains that were going back and forth while planes shot at them.  They arrived in Theresienstadt and Albert contracted thyphoid.  Russians liberated the camp, but he couldn’t leave because he couldn’t walk.

In June, 1945, he left for Frankfurt and worked as a chauffeur.  Two of Albert’s brothers returned to Germany but the youngest died in Gleiwice.  One brother now lives in Boston and one in Israel.

Albert married in 1948.  His wife June was also a survivor.  They came to the US in 1949, landed in New York and then moved on to Detroit.  He lived on Tyler Street until 1954, working at a cleaners on Dexter Avenue.  He made one dollar an hour until his wife became pregnant.  His next job was at Campeau Clothing until 1957 and Cancellation Shoes until 1962.  They have three sons: Steven, Gary and Harold.

Interview information:
Date: 9/15/88
Length: 1 hour
Interviewer: Rabbi Charles Rosenzveig
Format: Video recording