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Salomon R. Holocaust testimony (HVT-4055) interviewed by Yannis Thanassekos and Michel Rosenfeldt,

Oral History | Digitized | Fortunoff Collection ID: HVT-4055

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    Videotape testimony of Salomon R., who was born in Antwerp, Belgium in 1925, one of three children of Polish émigrés. He recounts his father's death in 1933; attending public school and weekly Yiddish lessons; participating in Hashomer Hatzair; increasing antisemitism by right-wing extremists; housing German-Jewish refugees; German invasion in May 1940; registering as Jews when required to do so; recruitment by his brother-in-law to the Resistance at age fifteen; obtaining false papers; assignments delivering underground newspapers and smuggling people to northern France via Kortrijk (Coutrai); arrest and imprisonment as a Resistant in Coutrai in December 1941; encountering his older sister and mother after their arrests (his younger sister, Freida R., had escaped to France); their release; transfer to Bruges four months later; solitary confinement for seven months; transfer to St. Gilles; encountering his mother, sister, and others from his network; their deportation to Essen; separation from his mother and sister the next day when transfered to Bochum; slave labor in a munitions factory; transfer to Esterwegen in spring 1943; solidarity among the French and Belgian prisoners; Flemish prisoners praying nightly; organizing evening lectures; hospitalization; a Belgian prisoner-doctor saving his life; transfer to Auschwitz/Birkenau a year later via several prisons, including Hamm; assignment to Monowitz; encountering a cousin from Antwerp, who had a privileged position and helped him; hospitalization by a German prisoner-nurse which saved his life; a privileged position in the garden due to his status as a long-time prisoner; and sharing food with others.

    Mr. R. recalls punishment for taking food, a beating, and assignment to cleaning latrines; persecution by Polish non-Jewish prisoners; observing Jews praying; public executions; brief transfer to Birkenau; a death march, then train transport to Gross-Rosen, then days later to Sachsenhausen; hitting back a prisoner-official who was beating him; transfer two weeks later to Mauthausen, Amstetten, then back to Mauthausen; assignment to the tent camp; slave labor in the quarry; protecting a French boy who was next to him; transfer to Gunskirchen two weeks later; liberation by United States troops in May 1945; transfer with French prisoners to Merville; a three-week hospitalization; repatriation to Menen in June; assistance from the Red Cross; returning to Antwerp; finding his home occupied and no relatives; leaving due to his sense of loss and continuing antisemitism; recuperating in Rixensart at a home for former Resistants; reunion with his sister, who had been in Ravensbrück; and vainly seeking their mother and older sister. Mr. R. discusses details of camp life, prisoner hierarchies, and group relations; attributing his survival to luck, his hate for the Germans, and solidarity with other prisoners, as well as his hope for reunion with his family; difficulty reactivating emotions he had “shut down” in order to survive; continuing nightmares; not sharing his experiences, except with other survivors, due to limitations of language to describe them and thinking no one would believe them; visiting Mauthausen with his wife; and difficulty believing he had survived such conditions.
    R., Salomon, 1925-
    Brussels, Belgium : Fondation Auschwitz, 1996
    Interview Date
    February 19 and 26, 1996.
    Antwerp (Belgium)
    Kortrijk (Belgium)
    Merville-Franceville-Plage (France)
    Menen (Belgium)
    Rixensart (Belgium)
    Cite As
    Salomon R. Holocaust Testimony (HVT-4055). Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University Library.
    Other Authors/Editors
    Thanassekos, Yannis, interviewer.
    Rosenfeldt, Michel, interviewer.
    This testimony is in French.
    Related material: Frieda R. Holocaust testimony [sister](HVT-4033), Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University Library.

    Physical Details

    2 copies: Betacam SP dub; and 1/2 in. VHS with time coding.
    Physical Description
    2 videorecording (5 hr., 2 min. and 4 hr., 36 min.) : col

    Keywords & Subjects

    Subjects (Local Yale)
    Child survivors.
    False papers.
    Hospitals in concentration camps.
    Mutual aid.
    Aid by non-Jews.
    Postwar experiences.
    Postwar effects.
    Antisemitism Postwar,
    Holocaust survivors. Video tapes. Men. Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Personal narratives. World War, 1939-1945--Personal narratives, Jewish. World War, 1939-1945--Children. Jewish children in the Holocaust. World War, 1939-1945--Underground movements--Belgium. Mothers and sons. Brothers and sisters. Forced labor. World War, 1939-1945--Prisoners and prisons, German. Concentration camps--Sociological aspects. Concentration camps--Psychological aspects. Concentration camp inmates--Religious life. Concentration camp inmates--Family relationships. World War, 1939-1945--Atrocities. Nightmares. Death marches. Quarries and quarrying. Belgium. Antwerp (Belgium) Kortrijk (Belgium) Merville-Franceville-Plage (France) Menen (Belgium) Rixensart (Belgium) Oral histories (document genres) R., Salomon,--1925- World Hashomer Hatzair. International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Esterwegen (Concentration camp) Auschwitz (Concentration camp) Birkenau (Concentration camp) Monowitz (Concentration camp) Gross-Rosen (Concentration camp) Sachsenhausen (Concentration camp) Mauthausen (Concentration camp) Gunskirchen (Concentration camp)

    Administrative Notes

    Link to Yale University Library Catalog:
    Record last modified:
    2018-05-29 11:53:00
    This page:

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