Oral History

Hans Heimann describes internment in Italy

The Germans annexed Austria in March 1938. In 1939, Hans fled first to Hungary and then to Italy. He and his parents were interned in various towns. Hans's father became ill and died in 1940. In 1943, Hans and his mother were warned of German plans to deport Jews from Italy to Poland. They moved to smaller towns until liberation by the British in August 1943. Hans worked as an interpreter for the Allies until 1945, when he worked for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and helped resettle Jewish refugees.


We had, uh, what was called an adonata [ph], it was, uh, a gathering once a day--I'm sorry, twice a day, I should say--to, just to, for head count, but that was it. And, uh, later on there were too many people, they found out there were too many, uh, peoples in that internment village, and we, uh, we were split up. People from, with their last names from A to K were sent to, uh, a place called Tortoreto in, uh, on the Adriatic Sea. We stayed--it's a resort village--we stayed in a requisitioned hotel. I had a room with my dad. We overlooked from a terrace the ocean. We went, uh, swimming in the ocean, weather permitting. We got, uh, one policeman from the village, uh, was staying with us, the only one in the hotel. And, uh, we had, uh, just to be there at night. But we had free run of the town, we, uh, got, uh, permission to, uh, go to the movies if we wanted to, we received pocket money, and we received also, uh, money that we, that we pooled for, to have a kitchen. And, uh, some, uh, volunteers were cooks and, uh, we were ser...served three meals a day.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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