Show cover of Centropa Stories

Centropa Stories

Jewish Witness to a European Century


S11E3: Theodore Magder
Zhanna Litinskaya, from our Kyiv office, spent three weeks in Chisinau in 2004 interviewing elderly Holocaust survivors. Zhanna spent three afternoons with the head of the community, Theodor Magder, who spoke of surviving the war, working as a journalist during the Communist years, and how he joined the government once Moldova became independent. Read by Steve Furst in London.
11:10 23.04.24
S11E2: Polina Leibovich
Still teaching school at the age of 79, Polina Leibovich shares with us her story of a happy childhood and how she managed to survive hell in the camps of Transnistria.  Interviewed for Centrpa by Natalia Fomina in 2004, Polina also tells us about finding a husband, raising a family and devoting her life to teaching.  Read by Sara Kestelman in London.
13:06 23.04.24
S11E1: Moldova-Introduction
Narrated by Edward Serotta Moldova became an independent country when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Well more than 65,000 Jews were registered then and over the next two decades, the overwhelming majority emigrated to Israel. The community stands at less than 5,000 today but provides its members with kindergartens, youth clubs, sports teams and care for seniors. Centropa conducted two dozen interviews in Moldova and we have chosen two of those stories for this podcast season.
04:34 22.04.24
S10E2: Vedem: the secret boys’ magazine of Terezin
Episode 2: They were 13 and 14-year-old boys imprisoned in the Terezin (Theresienstadt) Ghetto and only a handful would survive the Holocaust. But these teenagers fought back with everything they had: determination, ethics, and moral courage. Every Friday night, they would take turns reading from their own secret magazine, Vedem (Czech for In The Lead) which was filled with poetry, essays, and humor. Petr Ginz (1928-1944) was Vedem’s driving force and in this documentary, you’ll hear six actors tell the story of Vedem, and how Petr and his friends have left us with a legacy of life.
19:02 20.03.24
S10E1: Vedem: the secret boys’ magazine of Terezin
Episode 1: They were 13 and 14-year-old boys imprisoned in the Terezin (Theresienstadt) Ghetto and only a handful would survive the Holocaust. But these teenagers fought back with everything they had: determination, ethics, and moral courage. Every Friday night, they would take turns reading from their own secret magazine, Vedem (Czech for In The Lead) which was filled with poetry, essays, and humor. Petr Ginz (1928-1944) was Vedem’s driving force and in this documentary, you’ll hear six actors tell the story of Vedem, and how Petr and his friends have left us with a legacy of life.
30:27 19.03.24
S9E5: Ludmila Rutarova
Ludmila Weinerova grew up in Prague and was deported to Terezin with her parents and brothers when she was 22 years old. Ludmila paints a vivid picture of what life was like in the ghetto: grim and frightening on the one hand, but on the other, she performed in operas and in choirs that the prisoners performed. Lubmila Rutarova was interviewed by Daniela Greslova in Prague in 2007.
12:46 10.01.24
S9E4: Alena Munkova
Born into a completely assimilated home in Prague, Alena Synkova didn’t understand what it meant to be Jewish until Germany’s invasion and occupation. Her mother died young, her father was sent off to his death, Alena was called up for a transport to Terezin and her brother fled to the resistance. Alena spent three years in Terezin and after the war became a well known poet, journalist and screenwriter. Alena Munkova was interviewed by Zuzana Strouhova in Prague in 2005 and 2006 narrated by Shelley Blond
12:35 10.01.24
S9E3: Antonie Militka
Antonie grew up in Brno, where her family lived on the grounds of the Jewish community’s sports club. When the deportations began, her 12 year old brother went into hiding, her father was taken into forced labor, and Antonie, 16 years old, looked after her mother in Terezin. A story of incredible bravery, heartbreak and commitment. Antonie Militka was interviewed by Barbara Pokreis in Brno in 2004 narrated by Jilly Bond
12:56 09.01.24
S9E2: Jan Fischer
Jan Fischer, who became one of Prague’s most creative postwar theatre directors and memoirists, fell in love with the stage while a prisoner in Terezin. He and his fellow cellmates performed dramas, musicals and comedies, until one by one, they were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. A compelling story of tragedy and resilience. Jan Fischer was interviewed by Silvia Singerova in Prague in 2003 narrated by Peter Moreton
15:22 09.01.24
S9E1: Terezin - Introduction
Edward Serotta's introduction to the Centropa Podcast Season about Terezin.
03:29 02.01.24
S8E4: Simon Glasberg in Radauti and Botosani
narrated by Henry Goodman Simon was less than three years old when the family was sent into the hell of Transnistria. They barely survived, and as he grew up in postwar Romania, Simon tells us of the unspeakable poverty and hunger he went through. Simon became an agricultural expert, married, had children. This lively, ironic storyteller is well worth listening to.
13:41 01.01.24
S8E3: Rifca Segal in Sulita and Botosani
narrated by Jeni Barnett Rifca grew up in a village that was nearly 75% Jewish, and she tells us life was good—until the war—when the family was forced to move to a bigger town. They were not deported further but lived in abject poverty and in constant anxiety. Rifca married, raised a family, and spent her last years teaching Hebrew to an ever-shrinking class of Jewish children.
09:43 01.01.24
S8E2: Simon Meer in Dorohoi
narrated by Steve Furst Simon paints a vivid picture of growing up with his brothers in a Romanian shtetl. The entire family was deported to Transnistria during the war. Not all of them returned. Simon married, raised a family, and in time, became president of his Jewish community.
11:58 01.01.24
S8E1: Welcome back to the shtetl
narrated by Edward Serotta In towns like Dorohoi, Suceava, Botosani, and Radauti, Jewish life carried on all during the post-Holocaust decades. They were rapidly shrinking, of course, as most younger Jews wanted to leave, and the majority of them emigrated to Israel. But these small communities still maintained their canteens, youth clubs, choirs, and seniors’ clubs and held regular synagogue services. As of the 2020s, however, most of these organizations were no longer functioning. That makes these three stories all the more compelling, as they take you back to a world now lost to us.
03:09 01.01.24
S7E6: Leo Luster. Austria.
When Nazi Germany occupied Austria, over 110,000 Jews managed to flee. The Luster family, Moses and Golda, and their 14 year old son Leo, could not find a way out. Leo would endure nearly seven years of hell—in Theresienstadt, in Auschwitz, and in work camps in Germany. His story is read to us by Henry Goodman in London.
13:17 13.11.23
S7E5: Josef Seweryn. Poland.
Jozef trained as a barber and as someone who could repair fountain pens. Those skills first saved his life and brought him into direct contact with Nazi officers in Auschwitz—and led him to testify against them in nearly a dozen postwar trials. His story is read to us by Steve Furst in London.
07:40 13.11.23
S7E4: Pavel Werner. Czechia.
In March 1939, Nazi Germany occupied the Czech regions of Bohemia and Moravia. Pavel’s family was called for a transport to Terezin in 1944. Two years later, they were told they would be sent to “the east.” That meant Auschwitz. Pavel Werner story is read to us by Elliot Levey in London.
11:26 13.11.23
S7E3: Katerina Loefflerova. Slovakia.
Katarina Vidor grew up comfortably middle class in Bratislava. She worked in an accounting office and spoke four languages. She loved playing tennis and water skiing with friends on the Adriatic. She had recently married and her parents lived nearby. Then the war came. Her story is read for us by Jan Goodman in London.
10:07 13.11.23
S7E2: Erzebet Barsony. Hungary.
She grew up in a well-to-do family in Budapest, married in 1928, and doted on her only child, Erwin while running three hat shops with her husband. Then the entire family descended into hell. Her story is read to us by Tina Gray.
12:36 13.11.23
S7E1: Introduction: Five eyewitnesses in hell. The Auschwitz stories.
Auschwitz-Birkenau. the ultimate symbol of the Holocaust, where more than a million Jews were murdered. Of the 1,230 elderly Jews we interviewed between 2000 and 2009, nearly 100 managed to survive this hell on Earth—some to be sent on to even worse places. We present excerpts from five of those interviews, one each from Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Czechia and Poland.
01:26 13.11.23
S6E4: Mirou-Mairy Angel
Mirou-Mairy Karasso was born in 1921, the oldest five children. She grew up wealthy and sheltered until she and her brother Albert, hiding with false papers, boarded a bus for Athens. The rest of the family fled to the mountains. A heartbreaking story of loss. Interviewed by Nina Hatzi in Athens in 2006 narrated by Jeni Barnet
18:47 09.10.23
S6E3: Lily Arouch
Lily Pardo and her three sisters lived on Tsimiski Street and their father’s store was just down the block. And when the Germans began deporting tens of thousands of Jews, their fathers’ friend would hide them in his flat—for 18 months. Interviewed by Annita Mordechai in Athens in 2006. Narrated by Jilly Bond.
15:33 09.10.23
S6E2: Alberto Beraha
narrated by Allan Corduner Alberto Beraha’s father was a currency trader, his mother taught French. The family escaped during the deportations, and Alberto tells of hiding in a mountain village, where he listened to BBC broadcasts on a hidden radio, and translated the news for the villagers protecting him and his father. Interviewed by Annita Mordechai in Athens in 2007.
16:32 09.10.23
S6E1: Introduction: Escaping from/hiding in Thessaloniki
narrated by Annita Mordechai I grew up Jewish and Greek, the granddaughter of a woman who survived the Holocaust hiding with her parents and sisters in a friend’s apartment. In 2005, I joined a team of Centropa interviewers led by the historian Rena Molho and our goal was to ask elderly Jews born in Thessaloniki to share with us their personal stories—from the 1920s until the early 2000s. We highlight three of those interviews in this podcast season and you can find links to the interviews, as well as book recommendations, in the shownotes. Thanks for listening
01:08 09.10.23
S5E1: Anna Lanota - A Jewish Partisan in Poland
A story of horror and resilience Anna Rottenberg, born in 1915 in Lodz, grew up in a wealthy orthodox family. She broke away to study child psychology in Warsaw and when war came, she escaped, but went into the Warsaw Ghetto to try and save her family. Anna describes scenes of unimaginable horror, and how she married resistance fighter Eduard Lanota. Together they fought  the Germans in the August, 1944 uprising. Eduard was killed. Eight months later, Anna delivered their baby. Anna went on to become one of Poland’s leading magazine editors and taught child psychology well into her 80s. Read for you by Sara Kestelman in London. Produced by Oleh Teteriatnyk. Interview with Anna Lanota by Alexandra Bankowska
22:42 30.05.23
S4E5: Götz and Meyer by David Albahari: Excerpt
Kirkus Review called Götz and Meyer “brilliantly disturbing” and The  Guardian called it “unimprovable.” In this short (168 page) stream of  consciousness work of fiction, a school teacher in Belgrade muses—and  practically hallucinates—as he wonders just what the two SS men who  drove the infamous gas van talked about all day. The fact that both  Breda and Matilda Kalef watched their father and grandmother being  loaded into this van makes it all the more harrowing. We have chosen an  excerpt from Götz and Meyer, which is read by Allan Corduner, an actor  with more than 140 screen credits, including Tar, Defiance, The Woman in  Gold, The Merchant of Venice and Operation Finale. narrated by: Allan Corduner
11:00 31.01.23
S4E4: Breda Kalef
She was born with the name Ruchel Kalef. During the war, Father Andrej  Tumpej gave her a name to hide behind: Breda. After the war, Ruchel  decided, “He gave me more than a name. He gave me a life.” Thanks to  Breda, Father Tumpej is now listed as a Righteous Among the Nations.  Breda became one of Yugoslavia’s best known mezzo-sopranos. Jane Bertish  has appeared on stage in London performing George Bernard Shaw and  Tennessee Williams. Her television credits include Rosemary’s Baby and  most recently, Ted Lasso. narrated by Jane Bertish
10:03 31.01.23
S4E3: Matilda Kalef
Rachel  Chanin interviewed Matilda Kalef-Cerge for us 2002, and we have  remained in touch Matilda, who recalls both an idyllic childhood in a  wealthy Sephardic family, and how she, her mother and sister managed to  survive during the Holocaust. Read by Sara Kestelman, whose screen and  stage credits include the works of Tolstoy, Shakespeare, Gorky and  Marlowe, not to mention Star Wars. Excerpt from Leigh White’s The Long Balkan Night read by Nate Kelderman of Carnegie Mellon University
12:20 31.01.23
S4E2: A walk through Jewish Belgrade
Few Jews live in Dorcol today but this quiet corner of Belgrade still  evokes its past, when Jewish shops stood cheek by jowl and families  scurried off on Friday evenings to synagogue. Ida Labudovic interviewed  Vera Amar and Avram Mosic for us in 2002, and both describe what Dorcol  was like in its last years. Jilly Bond, who reads Vera Amar, is a  regular performer on BBC’s The Archers and has read more than 40 audio  books.David Horovitch. With 100 screen credits to his name, David  Horovitch has performed Shakespeare on stage and in film, was recently  seen in Mike Leigh’s Mr Turner and is currently starring in the HBO Max  series House of the Dragons. Additional reading of Ernst Pavel’s memoir  by  Mikael Gemeda-Breka of Carnegie Mellon University. Special thanks  to Jaehee Cho of the Entertainment Technology Center of CMU and Tijana  Zherajikj of Centropa. narrated by David Horovitch Jilly Bond
16:10 31.01.23
S4E1: Welcome to Belgrade
We  begin our walking tour and podcast in Belgrade’s Kalemegdan, the  ancient fortress peering out over the confluence of the Sava and Danube  Rivers. In her book, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, published in 1941, Dame  Rebecca West provides us with a short history of Kalemegdan —from the  Romans to the Ottomans to the Serbs—and actor Melanie Preston reads an  excerpt for you. As we walk down into Dorcol, Stefan Sablic—cantor of  the Belgrade synagogue, Ladino singer and musician—will accompany us. narrated by Edward Serotta
09:40 31.01.23