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Śimḥah R. Holocaust testimony (HVT-3439)

Oral History | Fortunoff Collection ID: HVT-3439

Videotape testimony of Simcha R., who was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1924, one of four children. He recounts his family's orthodoxy; attending Jewish schools; fights with Polish children; participating in Hashomer Hatzair and Akiba through which he met Mordechai Anielewicz in 1939; German invasion in September; a bomb killing his grandparents, brother, aunt, and wounding him; anti-Jewish restrictions; removing the star to travel to Radom for food; ghettoization; trading with Poles for food; joining relatives in Klwów; working for six months as a cowherd for a non-Jew; returning to the Warsaw ghetto; joining his parents in a kibbutz in Czerniaków; joining the Zionist underground; returning to the ghetto with his family; participating in the Jewish fighting organization, Z.O.B.; his family hiding with his mother's Polish friend in Sierierki; returning to participate in the Dror division of Z.O.B; meeting Yitzhak Zuckerman; serving under Hanoch Gutman and Marek Edelman; buying guns from Poles with funds he collected from wealthy Jews; preparing to fight rather than being rounded-up in April 1943; throwing grenades and Molotov cocktails at German troops entering the ghetto; retreating to bunkers; finding the body of Michał Klepfisz who had been in charge of grenades; observing the utter destruction when they left the bunker; being sent out of the ghetto with Zalman Friedrich to meet Zuckerman; he and Tovia Szajngut recruiting Polish sewer workers to organize an escape of a surviving ghetto fighters through the sewers, among them Pnina G. and Zivia Lubetkin; having to leave over a dozen behind; and reaching the forest.

Mr. R. recalls leaving with Zuckerman, Edelman, Lubetkin and others to organize in Warsaw; learning one sister had been killed in the uprising; recruiting his former neighbor, a Polish policeman to help Jews escape; utilizing funds from the Joint and Armia Krajowa to hide and feed Jews in Warsaw; incidents of near exposure, during one of which Helena B., a Pole, assisted; liaising with the forest partisans; visiting his parents and sister; joining Armia Krajowa as a non-Jew; fighting in the Polish Warsaw uprising; he and Jewish fighters joining Armia Ludowa; evacuation with Poles to Pruszków, then Suchedniów; obtaining false papers; traveling to Kraków; meetings with partisan leaders; hiding Jewish partisans in Grodzisk Mazowiecki; traveling to Lublin to meet with Władysław Gomulka, head of Armia Ludowa; Soviet liberation; returning to Warsaw; reunion with his parents and sister; traveling to Bucharest with a group for illegal emigration to Palestine; meeting Abba and Vitka Kovner; helping organize illegal emigration to Palestine; accompanying a group, including his parents and sister to Budapest; joining Kovner in Pontebba; planning revenge actions with Kovner and others; traveling to Munich; a failed mission to poison S.S. prisoners in Dachau; illegal emigration to Palestine via Paris and Marseille; and serving in the Israeli army. Mr. R. discusses many details of partisan activities and names many participants; his belief that Israelis thought survivors had done something wrong, so hiding he was a survivor until after the 1967 war; and not sharing his entire story with his children.

R., Śimḥah, 1924-2018
Tel Aviv, Israel : Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, 1990, 1991, and 1994
Interview Date
December 18, 1990, April 1 and 9, 1991, March 24, 1994.
Warsaw (Poland)
Radom (Województwo Mazowieckie, Poland)
Klwów (Poland)
Czerniaków (Warsaw, Poland)
Siekierki (Mazowieckie, Poland)
Pruszków (Województwo Mazowieckie, Poland)
Suchedniów (Poland)
Kraków (Poland)
Grodzisk Mazowiecki (Poland)
Lublin (Poland)
Bucharest (Romania)
Budapest (Hungary)
Pontebba (Italy)
Munich (Germany)
Paris (France)
Marseille (France)
2 copies: 3/4 in. master; and 1/2 in. VHS with time coding.
Cite As
Śimḥah R. Holocaust Testimony (HVT-3439). Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University Library.
View in Yale University Library Catalog:
Record last modified: 2019-01-02 10:15:00
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