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Pomegranate Guild > Long Island Group Stitches Holocaust Stories

Fleeing Terror: The Story of Ivan Vranetic and Ella Schnitzer
by Ellyn Sheidlower
(Ellyn read the interview of Ivan Varanetic of Topusko, Bosnia (a rescuer) and Erna Montilio and her young daughter, Ella Schnitzer--survivors)

Ivan was born in 1927 and lived on the border of Bosnia. In the interview,he recalled how his village was occupied by the Germans at the beginning of the war. Because the village was only six kilometers from the German border, the Germans continued to search in the town for Jews and Communists. At the age of 15, in 1942, Ivan began hiding Jews. He helped them to find a place to stay and told them where to find food.

In his account, he said: "The German border was very near so they frequently came looking for Jews. Whenever I knew about it, I would warn the Jews I was hiding in farms and other villages, and they all went to hide in the forest for a few days. Sometimes they would have to stay for 2 weeks."

Ivan recalled the time he ran into the forest with a woman named Erna and her young daughter Ella. Ivan carried Ella on his shoulders It was the winter of 1943-44 and it was extremely cold. They ran through deep snow. As Ivan carried Ella, he would continually rub her toes because she did not have shoes; and he recounted how two of her toes froze. At the end of the war, Ivan returned to Sarajevo with Erna and Ella. He wanted to marry Erna, but her mothr would not permit it because he was not Jewish and he was much younger than Erna. Ella, however, always considered Ivan as her father and the grandfather of her four children.

Ivan was honored as a Righteous Gentile by Yad Vashem.


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Originally Posted: December 23, 2005
Last Updated: August 1, 2010

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