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Paul S. Holocaust testimony (HVT-3229) interviewed by Josette Zarka

Oral History | Fortunoff Collection ID: HVT-3229

Videotape testimony of Paul S., who was born in Berlin, Germany in 1926. Mr. S. recounts his father's early prominence as a Russian Bolshevik; losing favor; his emigration to Germany; his mother's death during his birth; his family's emigration to Juan-les-Pins in 1933; a secular childhood (he was not circumcised); moving to Paris; completing high school; arrest in 1943; transfer to Drancy; forming close friendships; an intense social life in Drancy; deportation to Auschwitz two weeks later, then to Monowitz; the head kapo favoring him due to his fluent German (he saved his life six times); losing contact with his friends; slave labor for I. G. Farben; exhaustion, cold, and humiliation; hospitalization for hepatitis (from the tattooing); his best friend's death; continuing ailments; assistance from a prisoner nurse and doctor; placement in a convalescent room; close relations with other French men in that room; discussions of music and poetry; passing a test for assignment to the chemists' unit; a beating for speaking to English POWs; his privileged status; a death march to Gleiwitz in January 1945; train transport in open cars to Buchenwald; Czechs throwing them food from overpasses; briefly losing hope; assistance from German political prisoners; removing his identification as a Jew to avoid further transports; liberation by United States troops; traveling to Longuyon, then Paris; and processing at Hotel Lutetia.
Mr. S. discusses prisoners killing a kapo from Monowitz in Buchenwald; scars and illnesses resulting from the camps; nightmares when he was ill; surviving due to many “miracles”; the camps as a parallel universe with its own logic; the importance of adapting quickly, which was easier for younger people; the breakdown of human relationships when survival becomes paramount; the persistence of hope despite the certainty of death; adjusting to normal life after the war; non-survivors' disinclination to hear about the camps; reluctance to share his experiences, even with his children; current media attention on the Holocaust; writing about his experiences; and their permanent psychological effects.

Author/Creator
S., Paul, 1926-
Published
Paris, France : Témoignages pour mémoire, 1995
Interview Date
March 9, 1995.
Language
French
Copies
2 copies: 3/4 in. dub; and 1/2 in. VHS with time coding.
Cite As
Paul S. Holocaust Testimony (HVT-3229). Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University Library.
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View in Yale University Library Catalog: http://hdl.handle.net/10079/bibid/4291059
Record last modified: 2011-05-05 11:38:00
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/hvt4291059