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Shmuel H. Holocaust testimony (HVT-3537)

Oral History | Fortunoff Collection ID: HVT-3537

Videotape testimony of Shmuel H., who was born in Amsterdam, Netherlands in 1926, the sixth of seven children. He describes his large, extended family, half of which were assimilated, half orthodox; his family's focus on music and humor; wonderful Sabbath dinners; his father's death in 1934; resulting pressures on his immediate family, particularly financial; his mother taking in boarders and Jewish refugees; assistance from some uncles; participating in Mizrachi; his bar mitzvah in 1939; one brother's emigration to Palestine; believing they were safe despite the war; German invasion in May 1940; anti-Jewish restrictions, including expulsion from school; forced relocation to a smaller apartment; he and two friends shutting out reality through their music; writing poetry; forging documents to prevent his deportation; deportation with his mother and some siblings to Westerbork; weekly deportation trains; agricultural training for emigration to Palestine; his brother Itzhak informing him that his mother and sisters had been deported; the disjunction of cultural events and deportations in Westerbork; transfer with Itzhak and his wife to Bergen-Belsen with the group that had papers for Palestine; his depression due to starvation and slave labor; hospitalization for tuberculosis; return to the barracks; a friend giving him shoes, which saved his life; a Ukrainian guard giving him extra food; re-hospitalization; Itzhak's visits; and a former teacher giving him part of his rations.

Mr. H. recounts assignment to a train with Itzhak, his wife, and mother-in-law for those with Palestine papers on April 10, 1945; Itzhak's death on April 14; liberation by Soviet troops two weeks later in Bad Liebenwerda; 200 of the 2,000 on the train surviving; the Soviets placing them in houses in Tröbitz; his aunt's death and burial there; transfer with the sick to Riesa; returning to Amsterdam; reunion with a few relatives; sleeping most of the time; reunion with his brother; wanting to share his experience but others not wanting to listen; nightmares; his sense of lacking identity; antisemitism; inability to focus in school; deciding to emigrate to Palestine; his brother arranging for him to be with the Jewish Brigade in Belgium; trips to Brussels with his brother; emigration to Palestine via Marseille; living with cousins; depression resulting from lack of interest and no empathy from native Israelis; joining a kibbutz in 1947 where he was comfortable seeking a new beginning; focusing on his music; hauling supplies and watch duty during the Israeli-Arab War; continuing his music education in Israel, then in Holland from 1955 to 1957; and marriage to an Israeli. Mr. H. discusses the camp hierarchies in Westerbork and Bergen-Belsen; his book; the murder of seventy-four relatives in the Holocaust; and Dutch collaboration. He shows photographs and drawings.

H., Shmuel, 1926-
Tel Aviv, Israel : Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, 1993
Interview Date
March 5, March 12, March 18, April 1, April 22, April 23, and April 29, 1993.
Amsterdam (Netherlands)
Bad Liebenwerda (Germany : Landkreis)
Tröbitz (Germany)
Riesa (Germany)
Brussels (Belgium)
Marseille (France)
2 copies: 3/4 in. dub; and 1/2 in. VHS with time coding.
Cite As
Shmuel H. Holocaust Testimony (HVT-3537). Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University Library.
View in Yale University Library Catalog:
Record last modified: 2018-06-04 13:29:00
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