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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.
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.
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View in Yale University Library Catalog: http://hdl.handle.net/10079/bibid/6709328
Record last modified: 2015-11-12 12:07:00
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/hvt6709328