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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.
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.
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Record last modified: 2012-10-30 10:16:00
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