Benjamin S. Holocaust testimony (HVT-4056) interviewed by Yannis Thanassekos, Michel Rosenfeldt, and Massimo Ianetta,
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.
- Brussels, Belgium : Fondation Auschwitz, 1996
- Interview Date
- December 11, 1995, March 6, and December 2, 1996.
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.