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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.

Author/Creator
J., Leon, 1916-
Published
New York, N.Y. : A Living Memorial to the Holocaust-Museum of Jewish Heritage, 1993
Interview Date
May 6, 1993.
Language
English
Copies
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.