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Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives

MEMOIRIST:                       JANINA PRINZ KOZMA (1920-   )

INTERVIEWERS:                 SARA GHITIS

                                           RUTH EINSTEIN                             

DATE:                                  APRIL 26, 2002

LOCATION:                          ATLANTA, GEORGIA

ID#:                                      10413

NUMBER OF PAGES:           36

Transcript (PDF)

BIOGRAPHY

Janina Prinz was born in Delatyn, Poland in 1920. At three years old, she moved with her parents to Krakow, Poland, where she spent much of her childhood.  She later moved to Wieliczka, Poland and then to Gdynia, Poland, where she attended college and studied Maritime Law.  When the Germans attacked Poland on September 1, 1939, Janina and her mother fled Gdynia towards Krakow, settling in Wieliczka.  When Wieliczka was liquidated in 1942, Janina and her mother obtained forged identification papers and returned to Krakow, where they stayed temporarily with the family’s former maid and then moved to a convent.  In December 1944, a Polish maid betrayed the Jews hiding at the convent to the Gestapo.  Janina escaped arrest and fled to another Krakow convent, where she stayed until the Russians liberated Krakow on January 18, 1945.  Janina’s mother died in Gestapo custody. Her father, whom she had not seen since before the war, settled in a town near Krakow and survived the war.

After the war, Janina worked for Krakow’s Communist government until she met her husband, Isaac Kozma. “Ike” had been born in Krakow, Poland and was a survivor of Auschwitz-Birkenau and Buchenwald.  At five months pregnant, Janina and her husband escaped Poland.  They spent three months in a displaced persons camp in American-occupied Germany before moving to Paris, France, where Janina’s son was born in 1946. After 10 years in Paris, the family moved to Munich, Germany. After a year, the family moved again to the United States, arriving in New York City on the RMS Queen Mary in January of 1957. They moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where Ike’s sister and Janina’s extended family (also Holocaust survivors) had established themselves.  Janina and her husband owned and operated three different grocery stores over the next two decades. Since retiring, Janina has enjoyed traveling around the world. Her son lives in Florida. She has four grandchildren.

SCOPE OF INTERVIEW:

Janina discusses how she and her mother fled the Krakow ghetto by going to a small town called Wieliczka.   When the Germans decided to make Wieliczka ‘Judenrein’ (free of Jews) they fled back to Krakow where they hid in a convent until they obtained forged identification papers.  Janina recalls how she and her mother found work and how a month before the Russians liberated Krakow, her mother was arrested by the Gestapo and taken to Montelupich prison.

Janina describes fleeing Poland and the Communists after the war ended. At five months pregnant, she and her husband illegally crossed four borders to reach the American-occupied zone in Germany. After a brief stay in the Eggenfelden Displaced Persons camp near Munich, Germany, they moved to Paris, France, where her son was born. Janina describes the changing political climate in France during the early years of the Cold War, antisemitism, and the impact of economic policies on immigrants like herself.

After ten years of struggling to make a living in Paris, the Kozmas moved to Munich, Germany for a year.  Janina describes why she did not want to stay there, despite a marked improvement in their financial status. She recalls coming to America in 1957 with the help of her sister-in-law, who had already immigrated and settled in Atlanta, Georgia.

Janina mentions the impact a labor union and the language barrier had on her husband finding work in the United States.  Ultimately, they decided to open their own grocery store, two of which were in what Janina described as “rough” and “colored” sections of the city.  She witnessed how desegregation and urban transportation initiatives transformed Atlanta’s neighborhoods in the 1960’s and 1970’s. She describes losing many of the middle- and upper-class white customers that frequented her third grocery store when they all moved away from the city and into the suburbs.

Janina describes her interactions with Atlanta’s Jewish community. She discusses attending synagogue, her son becoming bar mitzvah, and taking classes at the Jewish Community Center. Janina’s son attended Emory University, became a doctor and had four children.  Janina reflects on the effect her experiences during the Holocaust had on how she raised her son. She admits to being very protective of him. She never shared her wartime experiences with him because she felt the experiences her husband shared about his time in the concentration camps was traumatic enough. She has spoken publically about her experiences once before and says this interview has prompted conversations about her experiences with her son and her grandchildren.

KEYWORDS

1991 Soviet coup d'état attempt

African-American

Albertine convent

Alliance Française

Ansley Park (Atlanta, Georgia)

Antisemitism

Architects

Atlanta, Georgia

Auschwitz-Birkenau (Death Camp: Poland)

Bar mitzvah

Belzec (Death Camp: Poland)

Border crossings—illegal

Buchenwald (Concentration Camp: Germany)

Catholic Church

Congregation Anshi S’fard—Atlanta, Georgia

Congregation Beth Jacob—Atlanta, Georgia

Chrzanów, Poland

Chrzanow, Poland

Colored

Communism, conditions under

Concentration camps: Germany

Convents

Crime—Armed holdups

Croatia

Czech Republic

Dairy industry and trade

Death camps: Poland

Delatyn, Poland

DeVry University—Atlanta, Georgia

Displaced Persons Camps: Germany

Dziewinska, Maria

Dziewinski, Felix

Dziewinski, Herman

Dziewinski, Karl

Eggenfelden (Displaced Persons Camp: Germany)

Feldafing (Displaced Persons Camp: Germany)

Flight and hiding

French language

Furriers

Gdansk, Poland

Gdynia, Poland

General Motors

Gestapo

Grocery industry and trade

Haberdashery industry and trade

Hat industry and trade

Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)

Holocaust survivors

Identification papers, forged

Immigration

Integration

Ira Street Market—Atlanta, Georgia

Israel

Jewish-Black Relations

Judaism—Customs and practices

Judaism, Orthodox

Judenrein

Katowice, Poland

Katz, Nathan (Rabbi)

Kazimierz, Poland

Kozma, Georges

Kozma, Isaac (“Ike”)

Kozma, Janina Prinz

Kraków, Poland

Krakow, Poland

Labor unions

Lake Lanier—Georgia

Lake Spivey—Georgia

Liberation

Lithuania

Lwów, Poland

Lvov, Poland

Lwow, Poland

Maritime Law

Martino, Erna Dziewinski

Mechanicsville, Georgia

Melbourne, Australia

Morningside Foods—Atlanta, Georgia

Montelupich prison—Krakow, Poland

Munich, Germany

Nancy, France

New York City, New York

Organisation Todt

Paris, France

Prinz, Irma

Prinz, Marc

Psychiatric hospitals

R.M.S. Queen Mary (ship)

Real estate

Russia

Saint Albert’s Order

Segregation

Soviet Union (USSR)

Strasbourg, France

Sudetenland

Ukraine

United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA)

Vienna, Austria

Wieliczka, Poland

World War, 1939-1945

Wurmannsquick, Germany

Yeshiva

Yiddish language

Yugoslavia

Zakopane, Poland

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