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Benjamin S. Holocaust testimony (HVT-4056) interviewed by Yannis Thanassekos, Michel Rosenfeldt, and Massimo Ianetta,

Oral History | Fortunoff Collection ID: HVT-4056

Videotape testimony of Benjamin S., who was born in Longwy, France in 1924 to Polish immigrants. He recounts their move to Charleroi when he was six months old; his brother's birth; his father's socialist activities causing them to move frequently; living in Gilly; attending secular school and a weekly Jewish religious school; participating in socialist youth movements; his father's participation in the Spanish Civil War; their move to Brussels in 1939; German invasion; fleeing with his family to France; his father's enlistment in the Polish military; assistance from the Red Cross; incarceration with his mother and brother in Récébédou; returning alone with a family friend to Brussels; learning all their possessions had been stolen; rejoining his mother and brother in Rivesaltes, then his father in Caylus; working with him in Berbiguières; his mother and brother joining them; arrest three weeks later in August 1942; transfer with his father and brother to Saint-Pardoux-la-Rivière, then to Drancy; their deportation to Auschwitz/Birkenau on September 4; slave labor doing construction; volunteering for transfer, thinking it could not be worse elsewhere; slave labor building a factory in Laurahütte; his privileged position providing extra food; sharing it with his father and brother; hospitalization; and a prisoner-doctor allowing him to remain for a week's rest.

Mr. S. recalls their transfer in October 1944 to Blechhammer; slave labor in the Hydrierwerke factory; public hangings; a death march to Gross-Rosen in January 1945; separation from their father en route when he was too weak to continue; transfer days later to Buchenwald; he and his brother being injured en route in an Allied bombing; a doctor treating them for gangrene; separation from his brother (he never saw him again); liberation by prisoners; arrival of United States troops; hospitalization in Erfurt; repatriation to Paris; being processed at Hotel Lutetia; hospitalization and surgeries; contact with his mother through the Red Cross; reuniting with her in Saint Cyprien; their return to Belgium; becoming a tailor; marriage in 1948; and the births of his children. Mr. S. discusses many details of camp life, emphasizing starvation, brutality, and dehumanization; prisoner hierarchies and group relations; physical and psychological problems resulting from his experiences; not sharing his story until recently even with his mother, wife, and children; antisemitic harassment after the war; his profound sense of loss of his brother; continuing nightmares; and obtaining Belgian citizenship in the 1960s.

S., Benjamin, 1924-
Brussels, Belgium : Fondation Auschwitz, 1996
Interview Date
December 11, 1995, March 6, and December 2, 1996.
Longwy (France)
Charleroi (Belgium)
Brussels (Belgium)
Gilly (Belgium)
Caylus (France)
Berbiguières (France)
Saint-Pardoux-la-Rivière (France)
Erfurt (Germany)
Paris (France)
Saint-Cyprien (Pyrénées-Orientales, France)
2 copies: Betacam SP dub; and 1/2 in. VHS with time coding.
Cite As
Benjamin S. Holocaust Testimony (HVT-4056). Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University Library.
View in Yale University Library Catalog:
Record last modified: 2018-05-30 11:51:00
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