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Video Archives: Donia Presler

Donia Presler

Donia Presler

born in Tulchyn , 1929


Donia Presler was born in 1929 born in Tulchyn. Her father was a musician. Her mother worked as a glazier. She had two sisters, one of whom died in the Pechera camp. She finished four years of Yiddish school. During the war, she was imprisoned in the Pechera camp for four years.

Current Video: Inside the Camp

Donia Presler remembers how the Germans would conduct a selection, separating the healthy from the elderly and sick.

In total, about 15,000 Jews were deported from Transnistria into Reichskommissariat Ukraine between spring 1942 and early 1944, at least 4,800 of whom came from the Tulchyn district. In Bershad, the Gestapo, which had established a unit in the city in the spring of 1943, took about 1,200 residents into the Reichskommissariat for work, where most perished.

In the Reichskommissariat, the Germans worked the prisoners to death on starvation rations, or shot them when they became too sick to continue laboring. In a final statement, toward the end of the occupation as the Red Army approached, the retreating Germans murdered many of those Jews who had survived the labor brigades and remained relatively strong. About 2,500 prisoners from Pechera were seized for work in the Reichskommissariat.

In the following clip, Donia describes how the Romanian gendarmes guarding the camp sometimes sought to protect the inmates or at least the most vulnerable among them. Donia recalls how the Germans arrived in Pechera and started loading their trucks with prisoners

Source: Jeffrey Veidlinger, In the Shadow of the Shtetl: Small-Town Jewish Life in Soviet Ukraine (Indiana University Press, 2013)