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Josef B. Holocaust testimony (HVT-3544)

Oral History | Fortunoff Collection ID: HVT-3544

Videotape testimony of Josef B., who was born in 1919 in Wadowice, Poland, one of ten children. He recounts his family's successful jewelry business; their adherence to hasidism; attending public school (his classmate was the future Pope John Paul II), cheder, then a yeshiva; his bar mitzvah; rebelling against hasidism; being sent to live with an uncle in Piešt̕any in 1934; expulsion as a non-Slovak in 1937; returning home; moving to Bielsko; participating in Mizrahi; working in a textile factory; his father preventing his sister and her husband from emigrating to Palestine on orders from his rebbe; German invasion; Germans beating him to discover hidden valuables and compelling him to shave his brother's beard; deportation to Ottmuth with a brother; slave labor felling trees, then as a repairman; meeting his future wife; obtaining extra food for her; a German communist who assisted him; making a wedding ring that he kept throughout the war; his brother's selection and transfer; his transfer to Birkenau, then Blechhammer; slave labor in a factory; a privileged position repairing watches; a close relationship with Karl Demerer, the head prisoner; contact with Allied POWs; public executions; joining the camp underground (they killed spies and the man who had beaten his brother to death); a death march and train transfer to Gross-Rosen; his assignment gathering corpses; a death march and train transfer to Buchenwald; observing cannibalism; transfer to Dora; slave labor in a factory; sabotaging his work; transfer to Sachsenhausen/Oranienburg; liberation by United States troops, who offered him a gun to kill guards; being too weak to lift the gun; living in Schwerin, Lübeck, then the Bergen-Belsen displaced persons camp; reunion with his future wife; their marriage; illegal emigration to Palestine via Marseille; interdiction by the British; brief incarceration; living on a kibbutz; and his daughter's birth. Mr. B. notes only one sister survived and speaking in schools about his experiences.

B., Josef, 1919-
Tel Aviv, Israel : Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, 1993
Interview Date
May 13, 1993.
Wadowice (Poland)
Piešt̕any (Slovakia)
Bielsko-Biała (Poland)
Schwerin (Germany)
Lübeck (Germany)
Marseille (France)
2 copies: 3/4 in. dub; and 1/2 in. VHS with time coding.
Cite As
Josef B. Holocaust Testimony (HVT-3544). Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University Library.