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Bessie and Jacob K. Holocaust testimony (HVT-206) interviewed by Laurel Vlock

Oral History | Fortunoff Collection ID: HVT-206

Videotape testimony of Bessie K. and Jacob K. Mr. K. was born in Zwoleń, Poland in 1923. Mr. K. describes his childhood in a close-knit, observant family; celebration of Jewish holidays; social closeness of the community; attending a Polish school; anti-Semitic incidents; the beginning of the war; and the destruction caused by bombing, including his home. He recounts increasing tension; anti-Jewish legislation; forced labor; extreme hunger and hardship; atrocities committed against the Jews; the final deportation from Zwoleń (which he and his brothers avoided); their work in Zwoleń cleaning up the Jewish sector; deportation to Skarżysko-Kamienna; the murder of one brother; deportation to Buchenwald where his other brother remained; his transfer to Schleiben; evacuation to another camp; and the death march from which he was liberated on May 8, 1945 in Sudetenland. He recalls seeking family; anti-Semitic incidents; living in refugee camps in Feldafing and Landsberg; meeting his wife; the reunion with his brother; living in Stuttgart; and emigration to the United States in 1949. Mr. K. reflects upon the personal scars caused by these experiences; the satisfaction of having raised two children and having lived a creative life in a free country; and the moral and ethical implications of the Holocaust.
Mrs. K. was born in Vilna, Poland in 1924. She recalls a culturally rich childhood; harmonious relations with non-Jews; changes under Soviet occupation; moving to Kovno to live with her aunt until conditions improved; German occupation and ghettoization; her father's unsuccessful attempts to smuggle her back to Vilna; forced labor; and mass killings. She remembers her marriage in 1942; the birth of a son; separation from her infant in a selection; deportation by train to a camp in Estonia; her feeling of complete numbness and isolation; contracting typhus; surviving a selection with her aunt's and friend's help; liquidation of the camp; transfer by ship to Stutthof in Danzig; and surviving a final selection by posing as a non-Jew. She relates her experiences with the non-Jewish prisoners who protected her even though they knew she was Jewish; liberation by the Russians; and her feeling that she was the only Jewish woman left alive. Mrs. K. discusses her dismay that people knew what was happening and did not help; her reluctance to tell anyone about the loss of her child; psychological problems and the helpfulness of therapy; and her concerns for her children's futures.

Author/Creator
K., Bessie, 1924-2004.
Published
New Haven, Conn. : Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies , 1983
Interview Date
May 20, 1983.
Language
English
Copies
3 copies: 3/4 in. master; 3/4 in. dub; and 1/2 in. VHS with time coding.
Cite As
Bessie and Jacob K. Holocaust Testimony (HVT-206). 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/963047
Record last modified: 2015-08-19 08:52:00
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/hvt963047