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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 Longvoy, France in 1924, but grew up in Charleroi, Belgium, the older of two brothers. He recounts his father's participation in the Spartacus revolt in Germany; living in Gilly; attending a Belgian school, and a Jewish school on Sundays; participating in Jewish and socialist youth movements; his father's participation in the Spanish Civil War; the family's move to Brussels in 1939; encountering antisemitic harassment for the first time; German invasion; fleeing to France; his father enlisting in the Polish military; assistance from the Red Cross; incarceration in Recebedou; returning with a family friend to Brussels; finding their apartment had been emptied; locating his mother and brother in Rivesaltes; learning his father was imprisoned in Caylus; joining him there; forced labor in the kitchen; transfer to work in a mine in Dordogne; arranging to have his brother and mother brought to the camp; transfer with his father and brother to St. Pardoux la Riviere in 1942; transfer to Drancy (a French soldier sending a postcard for him while en route); deportation in sealed cattle cars to Auschwitz/Birkenau; sadistic German guards; slave labor in construction; volunteering for work in Laurahütte; building a factory and in a workshop; obtaining work that provided him with extra food, which he shared with his brother and father; and hospitalization for a hernia.
Mr. S recounts his transfer in October 1944 to Blechhammer; working in Hydrierwerke's synthetic fuel factory; public executions of prisoners; being punished for taking a newspaper; German guards being killed by allied bombings; and prisoners putting on a play. a death march in January 1945; his father remaining in a barn (he was killed with others); arrival in Gross-Rosen; narrowly escaping execution; transfer in open cattle cars; tossing corpses from the train; being injured in an allied bombing at the Weimar train station; train transfer to Buchenwald; a doctor treating his and his brother's injuries; suffering from gangrene in his feet; a doctor taking him to another block (he never saw his brother again); liberation; armed prisoners taking control of the camp; the arrival of US troops; evacuation to a hospital in Erfurt; flying to Paris; staying in Hotel Lutetia; undergoing surgery for his foot; contact with his mother through the Red Cross; traveling to St. Cyprien; reunion with his mother; returning to Belgium; becoming a tailor; identifying a kapo in Charleroi; marriage in 1948; the birth of a son in 1950; his mother's death; and his daughter participating in a protest by Serge Klasrfeld. Mr. S. discusses being reduced to the level of an animal, and general lack of solidarity in camps; Belgians' initial lack of interest in survivor stories; antisemitic harassment from his neighbors after the war; speaking publicly about his experiences; his feeling guilt for having survived; and suffering from nightmares.

S., Benjamin, 1924-
Brussels, Belgium : Fondation Auschwitz, 1996
Interview Date
December 2, December 11 and March 6, 1996.
2 copies: Betacam SP master; 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.
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Record last modified: 2016-11-08 13:25:00
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