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Yaakov B. Holocaust testimony (HVT-3829)

Oral History | Fortunoff Collection ID: HVT-3829

Videotape testimony of Yaakov B., who was born in Hrubieszów, Poland in 1926, the youngest of three children. He recounts his brother's death from pneumonia; attending a Jewish school; compulsory transfer to a public school; antisemitic harassment; working in his father's business from age fourteen; German, then brief Soviet occupation; traveling with his father to an uncle in Volodymyret︠s︡ʹ; their return home; German occupation; ghettoization; forced labor; deportation with his family to Sobibór in spring 1942; separation from his mother and sister; slave labor with his father cutting trees and cleaning box cars; trying to protect his father when he had typhus; German officials killing his father; killings as reprisals for escape attempts and for “sport”; public hangings; slave labor constructing barracks; a planned uprising and escape headed by Alexander Pechersky, a former Soviet soldier; escaping during the uprising in October 1943; living in the forest for four months; encountering other escapees in Iwanki; assistance from local villagers; Jewish partisans refusing to accept them; working for a Polish farmer; joining a Soviet partisan unit; raiding villages and blowing up railroads; battles with Germans; encountering a partisan group that included Ukrainians who had been guards in Sobibór; and discharge from the partisans.
Mr. B. recounts returning home; attemping to recover family property; arrest and release; traveling to Lublin; enlisting in the Polish military in Trawniki; combat in Warsaw; assisting Jews who had been hiding; clearing mines in Staszów, Pińczów, and Pacanów; leaving the unit due to antisemitic harassment; arrest for desertion; imprisonment in Busko-Zdrój; Armia Krajowa freeing some prisoners, though not him; transfer to Pawiak prison; a death sentence for desertion, then its commutation; orders to rejoin his unit; disobeying; joining Betar in Lublin; being smuggled to Austria; living on a Betar kibbutz; attacking police officers in Graz who had harassed Jews; moving to Föhrenwald displaced persons camp; assistance from UNRRA; illegal emigration to Palestine by ship from Italy; British interdiction; incarceration on Cyprus; conflicts among Zionist groups; marriage; arrival in Israel in 1949; and the births of four children. Mr. B. discusses testifying in war crimes trials in Germany and the Eichmann trial; a meeting of Sobibór survivors; and sharing his experiences with his children. He shows photographs and sings.

B., Yaakov, 1926-
Tel Aviv, Israel : Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, 1992
Interview Date
March 5, March 13, and March 20, 1992.
2 copies: 3/4 in. master; and 1/2 in. VHS with time coding.
Cite As
Yaakov B. Holocaust Testimony (HVT-3829). 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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