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Ya'akov B. Holocaust testimony (HVT-3709)

Oral History | Fortunoff Collection ID: HVT-3709

Videotape testimony of Ya'akov B., who was born in 1926 in Rotterdam, Holland, the oldest of three brothers. He recounts his mother's death in 1937; living with his grandparents; attending a Jewish school; living in an orphanage until his father remarried; fleeing with his family to the Hague during German bombing of Rotterdam; attending school in Amsterdam; anti-Jewish restrictions; joining the underground; being assigned to smuggle microfilm to Paris and Antwerp disguised as a Hitler Youth; arrest in Paris in 1942 when his false papers were exposed; deportation to Westerbork, then Auschwitz/Birkenau as a political prisoner; slave labor building barracks; meeting two uncles and observing their suicides on the electrified fence; a kapo arranging his transfer to Canada Kommando; a beating for taking food; burying valuables so the Germans would not have them; losing faith in God; Germans sadistically killing infants; contracting typhus; a friend obtaining medicine for him; working at the home of Höss, camp Kommandant; transfer to Oranienburg, Sachsenhausen, then Ohrdruf in 1944; slave labor laying railroad tracks; Allied bombings; transfer to Buchenwald; a transport in open boxcars; observing cannibalism; liberation by Soviet troops; executing SS guards at the invitation of Soviet soldiers; and convincing them to spare the life of a German guard who had helped him.

Mr. B. recounts recuperating in Terezín; working as an Allied translator, then with refugee repatriation in Prague; returning home; reunion with a few surviving aunts, uncles, and cousins; working for the Joint; locating hidden Jewish children and bringing them to Marseille; illegal emigration to Palestine in 1946; his career as a high military officer; and the births of four children. Mr. B. discusses psychologically "removing" himself from the camps as his survival strategy; testifying to the Red Cross about a transport of Dutch mentally ill; camp hierarchies and differences between ethnic and national groups; and not sharing his experiences with his children. He shows photographs.

B., Ya'akov, 1926-
Tel Aviv, Israel : Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, 1994
Interview Date
June 17, June 30, and November 11, 1994.
Rotterdam (Netherlands)
Amsterdam (Netherlands)
Hague (Netherlands)
Paris (France)
Antwerp (Belgium)
Terezín (Ústecký kraj, Czech Republic)
Prague (Czech Republic)
Marseille (France)
2 copies: 3/4 in. master; and 1/2 in. VHS with time coding.
Cite As
Ya'akov B. Holocaust Testimony (HVT-3709). Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University Library.
View in Yale University Library Catalog:
Record last modified: 2018-05-30 11:40:00
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