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Leon J. Holocaust testimony (HVT-2579) interviewed by Naomi Rappaport,

Oral History | Fortunoff Collection ID: HVT-2579

Videotape testimony of Leon J., who was born in Częstochowa, Russia (presently Poland) in 1916, one of seven children. He recalls attending public school; antisemitic harassment; living with his mother in Gdańsk for business reasons for eighteen months; his bar mitzvah there; participating in Maccabi; draft into the Polish military in 1938; German invasion in September 1939; being taken as a prisoner of war by the Germans; his release, traveling to Warsaw, then home; ghettoization; one brother who did not “look Jewish” smuggling merchandise for the family butcher shop; forced labor in a munitions factory; his mother's death; deportation of his father and two brothers in fall 1942; the killing of three brothers when the ghetto was liquidated; transition of the factory to a concentration camp; solidarity among prisoners; sabotage and smuggling; assistance from a German supervisor; deportation in January 1945 to Buchenwald, then Dora; assisting a cousin on a death march; abandonment by the guards; observing cannibalism; liberation by United States troops on May 2, 1945; placement in a displaced persons camp; visiting Hamburg; volunteering for transfer to Sweden; becoming "human" again while living on a kibbutz; illegal emigration by ship to Palestine in 1947; British interdiction; incarceration on Cyprus; arrival in Israel in 1948; military service; marriage; and the births of two children. Mr. J. notes the importance of luck to his survival, and his reluctance to share his experiences with his children. He shows photographs.

J., Leon, 1916-
New York, N.Y. : A Living Memorial to the Holocaust-Museum of Jewish Heritage, 1993
Interview Date
May 6, 1993.
Częstochowa (Poland)
Warsaw (Poland)
Gdańsk (Poland)
Hamburg (Germany)
3 copies: 3/4 in. dub; Betacam SP restoration master; and 1/2 in. VHS with time coding.
Cite As
Leon J. Holocaust Testimony (HVT-2579). Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University Library.