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Walter S. Holocaust testimony (HVT-333) interviewed by Sidney Elsner

Oral History | Fortunoff Collection ID: HVT-333

Videotape testimony of Werner S., who was born in Gelsenkirchen, Germany in approximately 1918. He recalls his family's affluence; his father's service in World War I; close relations with non-Jews; expulsion from gymnasium after Hitler's ascent; working in the building trades; his sister's emigration to Kenya; his father's strong German identity; assistance from non-Jews, including a nun; gradual anti-Jewish restrictions; Kristallnacht (he and his father were among the few males not arrested); deportation with his parents to the Rīga ghetto in January 1942; a privileged position as a bricklayer; surviving through smuggling; transfer with his parents to Stutthof; separation from his mother; increasing physical debilitation and frequent beatings; escaping with a friend from a death march; identifying themselves as German soldiers when they were caught (they were both blond); imprisonment; transfer to the non-Jewish section of Stutthof; escaping with his friend from another death march; hiding on a farm; liberation by Soviet troops; living in Bydgoszcz; returning to Latvia, searching for his parents; learning they had perished; living in Berlin; emigration to join an uncle in the United States in 1949; and marriage to an American in 1951. Mr. S. notes anger at Hollywood representations of the Holocaust; attributing his survival to luck, looking German, and knowing the language; his strong belief in God, although not in organized religion; and fighting prejudice as a memorial to those killed in the Holocaust.

Author/Creator
S., Walter, 1918?-
Published
Cleveland, Ohio : National Council of Jewish Women, Holocaust Archive Project, 1984
Interview Date
July 9, 1984.
Language
English
Copies
2 copies: 3/4 in. dub; and 1/2 in. VHS with time coding.
Cite As
Walter S. Holocaust Testimony (HVT-333). Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University Library.