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Jan W. Holocaust testimony (HVT-3405) interviewed by Andrés José Nader and Vera Stutz-Bischitzky

Oral History | Fortunoff Collection ID: HVT-3405

Videotape testimony of Jan W., who was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1920. He recounts attending school; his parents' divorce; his father's remarriage; moving to Prague with his mother; attending gymnasium; volunteering for the army; German occupation; anti-Jewish restrictions; his grandmother bribing officials so he could join his father in Yugoslavia; futile attempts to obtain emigration visas in Zagreb; his father and stepmother committing suicide in front of him rather than living under German occupation; fleeing to Italian-occupied Ljubljana, then Trieste; assistance from a Slovak baker; traveling underneath a train to Genoa; arrest and imprisonment for nine months; transfer to a prisoner of war camp; forced labor felling trees and cleaning the Kommandant's office; friendship with a Polish prisoner of war; the chaplain providing money and military uniforms to them; their escape; riding a freight train to Florence; arrest, interrogation, and torture by the police; transfer to Palermo, then Ustica; escaping with his friend; a farmer providing shelter and food; liberation by British troops; joining the Czech army in Algeria, then training with the Royal Air Force; serving in the Czech army in Scotland; receiving British and Czech medals; returning to Prague from London after the war; taking revenge on a collaborator; incarceration in labor camp because of his service with the British; release five years later; marriage; the births of two children; divorce; visiting his aunt in the United States in 1960, when he met with her friend, Eleanor Roosevelt; remarriage; emigration to the United States; and frequent visits to Prague. Mr. W. discusses painful memories of parting from his mother and his father's suicide.

W., Jan, 1920-
Potsdam, Germany : Moses Mendelssohn Zentrum für europäisch-jüdische Studien, Universität Potsdam, 1995
Interview Date
May 15, 1995.
2 copies: Betacam SP dub; and 1/2 in. VHS with time coding.
Cite As
Jan W. Holocaust Testimony (HVT-3403). Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University Library.
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Record last modified: 2014-07-25 14:04:00
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