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Franz B. Holocaust testimony (HVT-4299) interviewed by Yannis Thanassekos and Jean-Marie De Becker,

Oral History | Fortunoff Collection ID: HVT-4299

Videotape testimony of Franz B., a non-Jew, who was born in Péruwelz, Belgium in 1924. He recalls moving to Congo in 1932, where his father was a gold miner; his mother's death nine days after giving birth to his younger sister; returning to Belgium with his sister in 1935; living with his maternal aunt; attending school in Mons; German invasion in May 1940; military draft; transport to Toulouse; working on a farm for three months; repatriation in August; returning to school; joining the Resistance in October 1941; distributing flyers at night; working as an engineer in a chemical company beginning in fall 1942; organizing a Resistance unit among his co-workers; registering at the train station to leave for mandatory forced labor in Germany in March 1943, then going into hiding (the authorities thought he was in Germany); obtaining false papers; hiding with a women who also hid a Jewish boy, whom he involved in the Resistance; hiding with other resistants in Ghlin; finding another hiding place for the Jewish boy; moving to Borinage; hiding in Dinant, then returning to Borinage; arrest on August 1, 1943; imprisonment at Avenue Louise with other Resistants; violent interrogations; transfer to St. Gilles; a head wound from a beating resulting in two days of unconsciousness; solitary confinement for ten days; receiving a Red Cross package; and transfer to Essen in November, then to Esterwegen as a "Nacht und Nebel" political prisoner.
Mr. B. tells of hospitalization for his infected head wound; the abscess bursting on January 1, 1944, his twentieth birthday; prisoners organizing discussions to distract themselves from extreme hunger; Catholics and Protestants holding religious services; Freemason meetings; receiving outside news from a clandestine radio; entertaining each other with songs and jokes; transfer to Börgermoor in February 1945; improved conditions; transfer to Ichtershausen in April; solitary confinement for three months; a whipping; imagining postwar life in order not to lose hope during his constant anguish; work being brought to his cell; moving to a group setting; hearing of the Allied landing and Belgian liberation; reestablishing the camaraderie the camp prisoners had had in Esterwegen; Allied bombings; a forced march toward Czechoslovakia; escaping with four others; a local farmer hiding and feeding them and other escapees; liberation by United States troops; some deaths resulting from food the Americans provided; repatriation to Belgium in May; a Red Cross interview; reunion with his family; hostile interrogations by Belgian authorities; unjust exclusion from postwar Resistance groups due to political and intergroup conflicts; marriage in 1946; the births of two children; his career as an academic; retirement in 1989; and researching his experiences. Mr. B. notes not sharing his experiences for forty years, even with his family and children, and recurring nightmares of Ichtershausen.

Author/Creator
B., Franz, 1924-
Published
Brussels, Belgium : Fondation Auschwitz, 2002
Interview Date
February 2, February 26 and March 5, 2002.
Locale
Belgium
Péruwelz (Belgium)
Congo (Democratic Republic)
Mons (Belgium)
Toulouse (France)
Ghlin (Belgium)
Borinage (Belgium)
Dinant (Belgium)
Language
French
Copies
2 copies: Betacam SP master; and 1/2 in. VHS with time coding.
Cite As
Franz B. Holocaust Testimony (HVT-4299). Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University Library.
 
View in Yale University Library Catalog: http://hdl.handle.net/10079/bibid/6709328
Record last modified: 2018-06-04 13:26:00
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/hvt6709328