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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.
Hrubieszów (Poland)
Volodymyret︠s︡ʹ (Ukraine)
Iwanki (Poland)
Trawniki (Lublin, Poland)
Pińczów (Województwo Świętokrzyskie, Poland)
Pacanów (Poland)
Busko-Zdrój (Poland)
Warsaw (Poland)
Staszów (Województwo Świętokrzyskie, Poland)
Lublin (Poland)
Graz (Austria)
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.
View in Yale University Library Catalog:
Record last modified: 2018-05-29 11:42:00
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