Bessie and Jacob K. Holocaust testimony (HVT-206) interviewed by Laurel Vlock
- New Haven, Conn. : Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies , 1983
- Interview Date
- May 20, 1983.
- 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.
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.