Avraham Harshalom roz. Friedberg

* 1925

  • "(Me), Bolek and Dudek decided to jump our train to a coal train. The coal train arrived in Prague-Holešovice (Bubny), a sort of coal station. We got off and hid between mountains of coal. We waited until morning. I saw a boy with a lady in the morning. I couldn't speak Czech, so I told him in Polish that we needed some clothes. He brought clothes for the three of us half an hour later. So we changed. He took us home; that was the Sobotka family, and they lived at Argentinská 1. His mother Jiřina Sobotková prepared food for us, we were so hungry. She let us wash and we went sleep. Few days after Sobotka family feared that it will leak they are helping Jews who escaped from concentration camps. The Hrstka family, which owned an artificial flower shop that was closed at the end of teh war, decided to hide us in there. We were there in the shop for about two months. Neighbours would bring us food. About three days before the end of war, there was uprising in Prague with barricades. Hrstka was a Czechoslovak army officer in reserve, took us along; they gave us guns and we went to fight on barricades. It was the end of the War and we decided to stay in Czechoslovakia. (…)“

  • “We travelled to Auschwitz - it took about twelve to thirteen hours. The train made stops on the way. We arrived in Auschwitz in the morning, so they opened the wagons and made a selection. [Q: What’s that?] What’s that? They decided whether you were to go left or right. We didn’t know what it was, but we knew that the young ones, capable of work, went to one side, and the children and older people went to the other. So after the selection of all our family, just my brother and I were on the one side when we arrived at the camp. Our parents and Grandma went, they took them to the gas chambers.”

  • “I was in that commando for about a year. In July - of forty-four, I think - me and two others, one was a Russian soldier, the other was Polish, we escaped from Auschwitz. [Q: How did you do it?] The way things were normally, when we went to work, in the morning, when everyone left the camp, the camp guards were outside where the work was being done. In the evening, when we’d return to the camp, when everyone was inside, the outside guards went back in again. When someone was missing, the guards stayed outside for three days. What went on? Nothing unusual, when we escaped, we had some... we hid somewhere outside and stayed there. We simply waited for three days until the guards left, and after those three days we could go.”

  • “In forty-eight, around June, the training started. It lasted about five months. Then... The training was to continue for a lot longer, but the relations took a turn for the worse somehow, I guess the Russians pressured the Czechoslovak government to stop. So they stopped the training. We didn’t complete it. [Q: Where did it take place?] In Olomouc. There was an aviation school in Olomouc, and we were part of that school.”

  • "(Me), Bolek and Dudek decided to jump our train to a coal train. The coal train arrived in Prague-Holešovice (Bubny), a sort of coal station. We got off and hid between mountains of coal. We waited until morning. I saw a boy with a lady in the morning. I couldn't speak Czech, so I told him in Polish that we needed some clothes. He brought clothes for the three of us half an hour later. So we changed. He took us home; that was the Sobotka family, and they lived at Argentinská 1."

  • "I met a German there (Rolf Winter), who was a prisoner too, but as a German his position was better. I had dollars from home. They left us our shoes and I had the money in them. I told him: 'I have money from home, some 250 dollars, and I'll give it to you, just arrange for me to be in a better commando.'"

  • "The Americans were nearing, so they took us to Buchenwald. It was no longer well-organised there. During the registration, I didn't say I was Jewish; I said I was Adam Friderski (Polish). From Buchenwald, we went to a transport; Jews were taken to Terezín and non-Jews to Litoměřice."

  • "The Hrstka family, which owned an artificial flower shop that was closed at the end of teh war, decided to hide us in there. We were there in the shop for about two months. Neighbours would bring us food. About three days before the end of war, there was uprising in Prague with barricades. Hrstka was a Czechoslovak army officer in reserve, took us along; they gave us guns and we went to fight on barricades.

  • "Soviet army opened an office in Prague for people who wanted to go back to the Soviet Union. One day, I thought I could go there and see. I wrote everything, who I was, where I was from, then they told me to go to the right, but I saw there was a soldier standing there and nobody was allowed back. So I said: 'I have my suitcases outside', and I ran away. The never let those who came in go out again."

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Rišon le-Cijon, Izrael, 08.11.2012

    (audio)
    duration: 01:01:54
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Tel Aviv, Izrael, 22.11.2015

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    duration: 01:45:13
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There were good commandos and there were bad commandos.

Avraham Harshalom during his air force training
Avraham Harshalom during his air force training
photo: yad vashem

Avraham Harshalom was born as Adam (Abraham) Friedberg in Pruzhany in today’s Belarus in 1925. Yiddish was his mother tongue; he spoke Polish and Russian as well, and studied at a Hebrew secondary school. He was deported to Auschwitz along with his parents and brother in February 1943. Unlike his parents, he survived the selection process at Auschwitz and worked with various work divisions (commandos). He attempted to escape in June 1944 and was included in the penal work division. He was deported to the camps in Crawinkel, Ohrdruf and Buchenwald in October 1944. In the tumult of the final months of the war in Buchenwald, he claimed being Polish, and together with two other prisoners he escaped from a transport in Litoměřice in March 1945. They got to Prague on a freight train; the Sobotka family from Holešovice saved them. They spent two months hiding in a closed shop in Dělnická Street. He participated in the Prague Uprising in May 1945, obtained Czechoslovak nationality, and studied the Czech Technical University in Prague after the war. He enrolled in air force training for Israel in 1948. He has been living in Israel since 1949; he served in the army (air force) until 1950. Afterwards, he started his business - the successful Ariel holding (production of electronic components).