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

Oral History | Fortunoff Collection ID: HVT-4055

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.

Author/Creator
R., Salomon, 1925-
Published
Brussels, Belgium : Fondation Auschwitz, 1996
Interview Date
February 19 and 26, 1996.
Locale
Belgium
Antwerp (Belgium)
Kortrijk (Belgium)
Merville-Franceville-Plage (France)
Menen (Belgium)
Rixensart (Belgium)
Language
French
Copies
2 copies: Betacam SP dub; and 1/2 in. VHS with time coding.
Cite As
Salomon R. Holocaust Testimony (HVT-4055). Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University Library.
 
View in Yale University Library Catalog: http://hdl.handle.net/10079/bibid/4676791
Record last modified: 2018-05-29 11:53:00
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/hvt4676791