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Dov H. Holocaust testimony (HVT-3828)

Oral History | Fortunoff Collection ID: HVT-3828

Videotape testimony of Dov H., who was born in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in 1913, one of six children in an orthodox family. He recounts attending cheder, yeshivas in Khust and Galanta, then a Jewish gymnasium in Brno; night work in a factory to support himself; attending an agricultural school in Tábor to prepare for emigration to Palestine; participating in Hechalutz; graduation in 1932; military draft; continuing contact with Hechalutz; discharge in 1936; returning home briefly; working in Prague; training at a kibbutz in Plzeň; military recall in 1938; his posting in Košice; his unit disbanding; returning to Prague; German invasion; moving to a Hechalutz training center; being ordered to report to the Germans in Prague; release after two weeks; helping to organize illegal emigration to Palestine and Zionist agricultural centers; working with Jacob Edelstein, a Zionist leader; arranging with him to move his Hechalutz groups to Theresienstadt; being housed together; seeking labor assignments to gain knowledge to benefit the group; their Sabbath and holiday observations; marriage in 1943; the arrival and departure of 1,200 children from Białystok; meetings with Edelstein, now head of the Aeltestenrat in Theresienstadt, and Fredy Hirsch; sham improvements for a Red Cross visit and propaganda film; deportation with his group by passenger train to Auschwitz/Birkenau; their decision to protect each other; a German shooting his seat mate; slave labor digging a trench; brutal killing prisoners; his group rescuing children who had hidden in latrines; encountering his brother who gave him food and clothing, and advised him to take any transport out; and the Sonderkommando uprising.
Mr. H. recalls transfer by freight train to Kaufering; deaths en route; encountering two sisters who gave him extra food; slave labor in a cement factory with French and Soviet POWs, then in a nearby village; locals giving them food; sharing it with sick prisoners; being caught; evading punishment by switching shirts with a dead prisoner; hospitalization for typhus; friends retrieving him from a pile of corpses, then hiding him; a death march to Dachau, then another march; abandonment by the guards; liberation by United States troops; hospitalization in Bad Tölz, then Munich; traveling to České Budějovice, then Prague; reunion with his wife; organizing Hechalutz; returning home for a reunion with two brothers and two sisters; returning with them to Prague; and emigration to Palestine in 1946. Mr. H. discusses prisoner hierarchies and organizations in Theresienstadt; his drive to survive even when friends committed suicide; creating a memorial in 1949 in the Theresienstadt cemetery with a tree he had planted as a prisoner; pervasive painful memories; not discussing them due to Israelis' skepticism, even with his wife and children; and the pain of reliving his experiences when he began to share them. He shows photographs and documents.

H., Dov, 1913-
Tel Aviv, Israel : Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, 1996
Interview Date
February 22, March 7, and March 14, 1996.
2 copies: 3/4 in. master; and 1/2 in. VHS with time coding.
Cite As
Dov H. Holocaust Testimony (HVT-3828). Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University Library.
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Record last modified: 2015-10-26 13:04:00
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