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Baruch S. Holocaust testimony (HVT-3521)

Oral History | Fortunoff Collection ID: HVT-3521

Videotape testimony of Baruch S., who was born in Vilna, Poland (presently Vilnius, Lithuania) in 1924, one of four children. He recalls his family's roots in Vilna; attending cheder and a Lubavitch synagogue, where his father was cantor; attending a Jewish gymnasium; preparing for his bar mitzvah for a year (he gave several readings and talks due to his father's position); transfer to a Polish gymnasium; attending summer camp where Abba Kovner lectured; Soviet occupation, then Lithuanian control in 1939; return to Soviet control in 1940; enrolling in a technical school; German invasion; his father's job cleaning German headquarters; his job in a German car repair shop; his father's arrest; his mother bribing officials to obtain his release; burying valuables and giving some to their Polish servant; ghettoization; thinking a friend crazy when he related a mass killing at Ponary from which he escaped; a round-up on Yom Kippur, 1941; his parents sending him and his sister to Radashkovichy, hoping they would survive; repairing German military vehicles with Soviet prisoners of war in an Organization Todt garage; escaping to the garage during a mass killing in March 1942; a Soviet POW hiding him; ghettoization with the few remaining Jews; his mother arranging his return to Vilna; purchasing a gun; leaving his family during a round-up to join the partisans; and participating in an attack on Germans. Mr. S. notes visiting Vilnius two years ago, as well as the mass grave in Radashkovichy where his sister is buried.

Mr. S. recalls Abba Kovner explaining why they should abstain from armed resistance in the ghetto; escaping with others to partisans in the Rudniki forest; joining a partisan group of non-Jewish Lithuanians and Russians; arrival of Kovner's group; learning of the liquidation of the ghetto from them; moving many times; obtaining supplies from local farmers, cutting utility poles, blowing up trains, burning wooden bridges, and obtaining weapons in raids; assignment to a new unit of Ukrainians; obtaining supplies and weapons by parachute from the Soviet military; burning a village that collaborated with the Germans as a warning to others; Armia Krajowa units attacking them; joining the Soviet military; liberating Vilna; his futile search for his family; visiting the woman to whom his mother had entrusted possessions; her claim she had none; not being able to find the gold his father had buried; wanting revenge against all non-Jews; his assignment repairing vehicles in Kaunas; a man to whom he had entrusted valuables claiming not to have them; taking most of the man's possessions as revenge; assignment to the front in Warsaw; deserting in Białystok, intending to go to Palestine; traveling to Lublin; connecting with Beriḥah; visiting Majdanek; being sent with a group to Alba Iulia, then to Tarvisio; assistance from the Jewish Brigade; moving to a kibbutz in Mestre, then to Bari; illegal emigration to Palestine in October 1945; joining the Haganah; refusing to separate himself, as a partisan, from camp survivors for whom Israelis showed negative attitudes; and marriage to a survivor. Mr. S. discusses not participating in revenge groups due to his priority to go to Palestine, but respecting those who did, despite thinking they accomplished little; many details of partisan life and Beriḥah operations; and only sharing his experiences with his sons when they asked.

S., Baruch, 1924-
Tel Aviv, Israel : Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, 1992-1993
Interview Date
November 15, 1992, February 28, March 28, April 7, May 13, September 10, and November 5, 1993.
Soviet Union
Vilnius (Lithuania)
Radashkovichy (Belarus)
Kaunas (Lithuania)
Białystok (Poland)
Lublin (Poland)
Alba Iulia (Romania)
Tarvisio (Italy)
Mestre (Italy)
Bari (Italy)
2 copies: 3/4 in. dub; and 1/2 in. VHS with time coding.
Cite As
Baruch S. Holocaust Testimony (HVT-3521). Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University Library.
View in Yale University Library Catalog:
Record last modified: 2018-06-04 13:32:00
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