Salomon R. Holocaust testimony (HVT-4055) interviewed by Yannis Thanassekos and Michel Rosenfeldt
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.
- Brussels, Belgium : Fondation Auschwitz, 1996
- Interview Date
- February 19 and 26, 1996.
- 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.