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

Oral History | Digitized | Fortunoff Collection ID: HVT-4056

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    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)
    Cite As
    Benjamin S. Holocaust Testimony (HVT-4056). Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University Library.
    Other Authors/Editors
    Ianetta, Massimo, interviewer.
    Thanassekos, Yannis, interviewer.
    Rosenfeldt, Michel, interviewer.
    This testimony is in French.

    Physical Details

    2 copies: Betacam SP dub; and 1/2 in. VHS with time coding.
    Physical Description
    3 videorecordings (5 hr., 12 min.; 5 hr., 3 min.; 3 hr., 19 min) : col

    Keywords & Subjects

    Subjects (Local Yale)
    Mutual aid.
    Hospitals in concentration camps.
    Postwar experiences.
    Postwar effects.
    Survivor-child relations.
    Antisemitism Postwar.
    Holocaust survivors. Video tapes. Men. Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Personal narratives. World War, 1939-1945--Personal narratives, Jewish. Forced labor. Fathers and sons. Mothers and sons. Brothers. Concentration camp inmates--Family relationships. Concentration camps--Sociological aspects. Concentration camps--Psychological aspects. Death marches. World War, 1939-1945--Atrocities. Nightmares. France. 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) Oral histories (document genres) S., Benjamin,--1924- International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Récébédou (Concentration camp) Rivesaltes (Concentration camp) Drancy (Concentration camp) Auschwitz (Concentration camp) Birkenau (Concentration camp) Laurahütte (Concentration camp) Blechhammer E/3 (Concentration camp) Gross-Rosen (Concentration camp) Buchenwald (Concentration camp) Hotel Lutetia (Paris, France)

    Administrative Notes

    Link to Yale University Library Catalog:
    Record last modified:
    2018-05-30 11:51:00
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