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Walter R. Holocaust testimony (HVT-3466) interviewed by Elisabeth Inchusta and Massimo Ianetta

Oral History | Fortunoff Collection ID: HVT-3466

Videotape testimony of Walter R., a non-Jew, who was born in Hamburg, Germany to Belgian parents in 1924. He recounts their move to Antwerp when he was three; his father's death; his mother's remarriage; housing German refugees; German invasion; mobilization; biking to Bordeaux with other conscripts; returning home; leaving for England with his friend Paul; traveling to Perpignan via Nantes, Bordeaux, and Narbonne; arrest by Germans while attempting to illegally cross the Spanish border; incarceration in Perpignan; transfer to Compiègne; slave labor in Paris uncovering unexploded bombs; transfer to Neuengamme as a political prisoner; separation from Paul upon transfer to Watenstedt; slave labor in a munitions factory; Paul's arrival; receiving Red Cross packages; hospitalization; remaining as a secretary and interpreter; public executions; working as the kommandant's secretary and interpreter; sharing extra food with Paul; transfer to Ravensbrück; receiving Red Cross packages; a death march two weeks later; assuming Paul was killed when he “disappeared”; liberation by United States troops; returning to Belgium; and reunion with his family and Paul, who had survived. Mr. R. discusses the prisoner hierarchy and national/ethnic divisions; the importance to his survival of being young and not losing hope; sharing some of his experiences with his children; nightmares of the camps, particularly since retirement; visiting Neuengamme; and membership in a survivor organization. He shows a spoon and notebook from the camps, and a Soviet newspaper from VE Day.

Author/Creator
R., Walter, 1924-
Published
Brussels, Belgium : Fondation Auschwitz, 1995
Interview Date
February 13, 1995.
Language
French
Copies
2 copies: 3/4 in. dub; and 1/2 in. VHS with time coding.
Cite As
Walter R. Holocaust Testimony (HVT-3466). Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University Library.