My testimony has been a tremendous source of encouragement to me, as it will doubtless be to others like me.

-Victoria Vincent

Victoria Vincent was born in June 1923 in Jerusalem. Her father was a successful businessman and decided to move the family to Brussels in 1930, and then to Egypt in 1936 and finally to Milan, Italy in 1937. Victoria lived in Milan with her two sisters Olga and Rachel, her father, and her stepmother. The rest of her siblings had grown up and moved away.

In June 1939 the racial laws against Jews in Italy had become increasingly prevalent and Victoria was forced to leave the Jewish school she attended when it closed. Her father’s business also came to a halt, and the family were thrust into financial suffering.

As the laws against Jews in Italy became more restrictive, Victoria took it upon herself to write a letter to the fascist leader of Italy, Benito Mussolini. On the 3rd of May 1940 Victoria received a summons to the police headquarters in Milan. The police told her that Mussolini had received her letter, but there was nothing he could do.

Unable to go to school Victoria had a succession of jobs and in 1941 started work in a bookshop. Victoria was given sealed letters to deliver by the owner of the bookshop, Miss. Fogagnolo, some of which were full of money. Eventually, Victoria found out that she was delivering messages for the Italian Resistance. Miss. Fogagnolo and her fiancé had been helping Jews in Milan. Victoria, being 18 years old, proved to be a useful messenger, as her youthful look evaded suspicion. Learning this, Victoria decided to continue working for Miss. Fogagnolo, even with the knowledge of what would happen if she were caught.

At this time, Victoria’s home life had become dire, and the family were now desperately poor. So much so, that her stepmother had to resort to collecting vegetables that had been thrown away at the market.

On the 9th of November 1943, Victoria was working at the bookshop when two German civilians came in looking for the owner. The two German men were members of the Gestapo and arrested both Victoria and Miss. Fogagnolo. Victoria was imprisoned in San Vittore Prison. Victoria’s father, stepmother and sister, Rachel went into hiding shortly afterwards.

After being interrogated, on the 15th of May 1944 Victoria was deported from San Vittore to Fossoli transit camp, along with 575 other Jewish prisoners. The next day they all boarded cattle wagons, the destination, unknown to them, was Auschwitz Birkenau. They arrived in Auschwitz 6 days after they boarded the trucks, and of the 575 men, women and children that left Fossoli transit camp, only 57 survived the initial selection process. It was while she was in Auschwitz Birkenau that Victoria found her sister, Olga, who had also been deported there.

On the 29th of September 1944 Victoria and her sister were moved to Auschwitz main camp, and on the 18th of January 1945, when the camp was emptied due to Russian advance, the two began their journey on the death march. Four days later on the 21st January, having had no food or water and marching non-stop in the bitter cold, the prisoners were put onto open coal trucks. The next day the prisoners were ordered off the trucks to continue marching.

Victoria arrived in Ravensbrück concentration camp on the 23rd of January, and was moved to Malchow, northeast of Ravensbrück on the 11th of February 1945. From there, on the 2nd of April 1945, she was transferred to Leipzig camp. Eleven days later her second death march began. They were given only a handful of raw rice to sustain them for nine nights and eight days of marching.

On the 22nd of April 1945, Victoria, her sister, and her remaining friends decided to escape in the night and managed to take cover with some Italian soldiers. After this, the group wandered from village to village for twelve days before reaching Cottbus on the 5th of May 1945, a camp run by the Russians for Italian military ex-internees. They stayed in a few more camps before Victoria and her sister Olga finally managed to get back to Milan on the 12th of September 1945 and were reunited with the rest of their family.

In 1946 Victoria met a British soldier, Alfred Vincent. They married in 1947 and moved to the UK with their son.

Victoria was a dear friend and supporter of the National Holocaust Centre and Museum and shared her testimony as long as she was able. Victoria was one of the first survivors that the Museum worked with and her testimony, along with the objects she donated, provides crucial evidence of the Holocaust, resistance and life inside Nazi concentration camps. The centre continues to protect and maintain her legacy to educate people about the Holocaust.

The Collection

The The museum houses documents, objects, and photographs donated by Victoria Vincent. It is our privilege to care for these artefacts and ensure they are available for future generations. The museum's collection provides vital, tangible, evidence of the Holocaust. We are committed to ensuring we have everything we need to continue to tell our speaker's stories into the future. Please find a selection of objects below from the Victoria Vincent collection. You can also search our collections for further objects and information.