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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 17, 1994.
Opatów (Tarnobrzeg)
Częstochowa (Poland)
Warsaw (Poland)
Radość (Warsaw, Poland)
Lublin (Poland)
Chełm (Lublin, Poland)
Opatów (Województwo Świętokrzyskie, Poland)
Starachowice (Poland)
Wólka (Poland)
Siedlce (Poland)
Rembertów (Warsaw, Poland)
Łódź (Poland)
Vienna (Austria)
Kraków (Poland)
Pruszków (Województwo Mazowieckie, Poland)
Milanówek (Poland)
Kopytów (Poland)
Radomsko (Poland)
Koniecpol (Województwo Śląskie, Poland)
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.
View in Yale University Library Catalog:
Record last modified: 2018-05-29 11:42:00
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