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Maurice P. Holocaust testimony (HVT-3464) interviewed by Michel Rosenfeldt and Yannis Thanassekos

Oral History | Fortunoff Collection ID: HVT-3464

Videotape testimony of Maurice P., who was born in Brussels, Belgium to Polish immigrants in 1923, the oldest of five children. He recalls a happy childhood despite his family's poverty; the sacredness of Friday nights despite their general secularism; cordial relations with non-Jews; membership in Zionist and socialist organizations; leaving school to begin work at age twelve; non-Jewish friends attending his bar mitzvah; German invasion; traveling to Gravelines intending to enlist; returning after encountering German troops; obtaining authentic papers as a non-Jew; distributing Resistance flyers; arrest of his cell members in 1942, then moving to Linz using his non-Jewish ID fearing his own arrest; his arrest in September; transfer to St. Leonard then St. Gilles prisons via several cities in Germany; his former school director, a non-Jew, sending him money so he could purchase extra food; revealing he was Jewish to avoid execution as another Resistance member; deportation to Auschwitz in June 1943; being compelled to beat another prisoner to save himself; meaningless slave labor; learning of the gas chambers and crematoria in Birkenau; nightmares about his family's extermination, which continue to the present; transfer to Jawischowitz; privileged slave labor as an electrician and in the kitchen; forming close friendships; the trauma of friends being selected for death; transfer to Buna/Monowitz in January 1944; a public hanging; working with British POWs who provided them with extra food; his privileged position as a kapo's assistant; prisoners staging a Yiddish comedy; surgery by an Austrian physician; a death march in January 1945 to Gleiwitz; train transport to Buchenwald, Holzminden, then Dachau; liberation by United States troops; recovering from typhus; profound sadness knowing that no family members had survived; repatriation by the Red Cross; living in Marcinelle; returning to Brussels; indifference of both Jews and non-Jews to his experiences despite his urge to share them; and organizing a camp survivors' group in 1956. Mr. P. discusses the importance to his survival of luck and prisoner solidarity; sharing his experiences with his son beginning when he was twelve; frequent trips to Auschwitz with students; and his belief that he learned nothing from his extreme suffering.

Author/Creator
P., Maurice, 1923-
Published
Brussels, Belgium : Fondation Auschwitz, 1995
Interview Date
April 5, 1995.
Language
French
Copies
2 copies: 3/4 in. dub; and 1/2 in. VHS with time coding.
Cite As
Maurice P. Holocaust Testimony (HVT-3464). 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/4291792
Record last modified: 2011-05-05 11:39:00
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/hvt4291792