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Lolli Samosh

Lolli Samosh recalls how she and her family fled to Sweden, assisted by the Danish resistance.

Lolli Samosh (né Katzenstein) was born in 1924, in Hamburg, Germany. Lolli was the seventh of 14 children in the Samosh family, and Lolli’s father Jacob taught at a Jewish boy’s school in Hamburg. Jacob Katzenstein was a Danish citizen and Lolli’s mother was born in Hamburg.  As life for Jews in Nazi Germany gradually deteriorated and the violent Kristallnacht pogrom shattered societal norms, Lolli’s parents made arrangements to send their older children away. By 1941, Lolli and her mother joined the rest of the family in Denmark.

The family rented an apartment in Copenhagen and survived on the food rations. The Second World War meant that conditions in Denmark were difficult. The Danish Resistance deployed a variety of tactics to interfere with the Nazi’s operations. In Fall 1943, the Jewish community of Copenhagen was advised to go into hiding. Lolli’s family were dispersed to several non-Jewish families. Then in October 1943, the family members received word that they would be taken in little fishing boats across the sea to nearby Sweden. As Sweden was a neutral country, the Jewish community would be safe from Nazi persecution. On October 1, 1943, 7220 of Denmark’s 7,800 Jewish community members were saved in this remarkable rescue effort. Lolli and her entire family were among those who received sanctuary in Sweden.

In Sweden, Lolli learnt Swedish quickly and worked as a seamstress in an atelier. When the war was over, Lolli’s family returned to Denmark and remained there for another six years. In the aftermath of the Second World War, life was hard as the country and its people struggled to rebuild their lives.  Lolli married in Denmark, and in 1951 she and her husband immigrated to Toronto, Canada to build a new life.

Lolli Samosh’s full testimony is part of the Canadian Collection of Holocaust survivor testimonies. It is preserved in the USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive and accessible through the Ekstein Library.

Lolli Samosh

We went into the boat and one man was rowing. The boat was quiet, calm.