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Samuel W. Holocaust testimony (HVT-3705)

Oral History | Fortunoff Collection ID: HVT-3705

Videotape testimony of Samuel W., who was born in Częstochowa, Poland in 1923, one of three children, to a Russian mother and a Jewish father. He recounts his mother's conversion to Judaism; attending a Hebrew school; his family's move to Warsaw; attending school; moving to Radość; German invasion; enlisting in the Polish military; moving with his battalion, ending in Chełm; being injured in a train bombing; hospitalization in Lublin; returning to Radość; traveling with his mother to join his father in Opatów in January 1941; his mother obtaining papers as a non-Jew; ghettoization; sneaking out to trade his father's paintings for food; hiding with non-Jews during round-ups; traveling with friends to work in a factory in Starachowice; returning to Opatów; his father obtaining false papers for the family; his father's move to Warsaw; his return to Częstochowa with his mother and sisters; his sisters' round-up; his mother sending him back to Opatów; deportation to Treblinka in October 1942; a friend who had arrived earlier advising him to say he was a construction worker; meeting a former teacher; assignment to a warehouse sorting possessions of the murdered Jews; finding his sisters' clothing; the pervasive odor of burning bodies; observing mass shootings and pits filled with burning corpses; assignment to a kommando building fences; forming a close group with his friend, his teacher, and a converted Jew who was a Protestant minister; assisting his friend when he had typhus; a severe beating; his friend treating his infected wounds; and observing the murder of his former teacher.
Mr. W. tells of the prisoner uprising; being wounded while escaping into the forest; assistance from villagers in Wólka; traveling to Radość, Siedlce, then Rembertów; assistance from local Poles; purchasing false papers; traveling to Częstochowa to find his parents; reunion with them in Warsaw; not informing his parents he had found his sisters' clothing (his mother later learned from his book); earning a great deal selling his father's paintings; joining Armia Krajowa (AK) as a non-Jew; participating in the 1944 uprising; escaping a murder attempt by AK colleagues after they learned he was Jewish; joining a leftist group; other Jews being robbed and killed by AK; escaping to Pruszków, Kopytów, then Milanówek, where he saw his mother; liberation by Soviet troops; traveling to Warsaw, then Łódź; finding his father; draft into the Polish military; officer training; discharge; providing military training to Zionists in Kraków and elsewhere; working with Ichud to move Jews through Czechoslovakia and Vienna; marriage; living in an UNRRA camp in Cinecittà; learning his father had died; retrieving his mother from Poland; retrieving Jewish children living with Christians in Radomsko and Koniecpol; and emigration with his mother, wife, and in-laws to Israel in 1950. Mr. W. discusses prisoner organization in Treblinka; pervasive fear and certainty he would not survive; annual meetings with Treblinka survivors; frequently visiting Poland; and increasing difficulty speaking about Treblinka.

W., Samuel, 1923-2016.
Tel Aviv, Israel : Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, 1994
Interview Date
May 6, June 2, and June 17, 1994.
2 copies: 3/4 in. dub; and 1/2 in. VHS with time coding.
Cite As
Samuel W. Holocaust Testimony (HVT-3705). Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University Library.
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Record last modified: 2016-02-24 14:09:00
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