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Oral history interview with Benjamin Murmelstein

Oral History | Accession Number: 2014.537.5 | RG Number: RG-50.862.0004

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.

Benjamin Murmelstein (Mrs. Murmelstein and their son Wolf Murmelstein also contribute to the conversation) discusses Robert Prochnik, who worked for him; the decision Murmelstein had to make in 1938 whether to do good or bad and he believes he chose to do the former; the postwar period and how authorities did not know what to do with him; being formally placed under arrest in the Dresdner barracks (Dresdner Kaserne in Theresienstadt) but was allowed to go in and out as he pleased; the other people detained along with him; his interactions with Prochnik after the war; Rudolf Slansky (originally Salzmann) and how he was helpful to Murmelstein by preventing organized protests by the Communist party against Murmelstein; the orchestrated protest against him by survivors; his views on Prochnik’s witness statement about him at his trial; the Czech nationalists in Theresienstad and the difficult choices he had to make during the war; "Postvollmacht" which were mail certificates by which someone gave someone else the right to receive their mail after they died or were no longer able to receive it; the bartering of stolen food with local peasants in exchange for cigarettes which, in turn, would be sold to Theresienstadt inmates in exchange for food; his interactions with the Nazi commandant Karl Rahm and the Red Cross visit to the camp, which he states was his idea; Eichmann’s visits to Theresienstadt; how the inmates at Theresienstadt learned about the realities in Auschwitz; his thoughts on Nazi commandant Anton Burger and Council of Elders member Paul Eppstein; the murder of children by gas; his thoughts on Otto Zucker (a Jewish leader of Czechoslovakia during the Nazi occupation who was interned at Theresienstadt and deported at the end of 1944); Heinrich Himmler and the destruction of the gas chambers in Auschwitz; Robert Stricker, who was a member of the Council of Elders in Theresienstadt; being able to take Stricker and Desider Friedmann out of multiple deportation transports; the conflicts he felt about who to deport; his relations with Friedmann; how Frantisek Weidmann was appointed head of the Jewish Community Prague; using orphaned children as placeholders on deportation transports; his thoughts on and interactions with Dr. Leo Janowitz; his thoughts on Dr. Emil Tuchmann and his position as the 'Vertrauensarzt der Geheimen Staatspolizei'; Josef Löwenherz's relationship to Alois Brunner and Eichmann; Tuchmann’s regime of terror in the hospital in Vienna; his thoughts on Mrs. Feldsberg (possibly Zerline Feldsberg, the wife of Ernst Feldsberg), who was poisoned due to work she had to do for a Mr. Süss; Wolf Murmelstein’s thoughts on the psychological pressure they experienced in Theresienstadt; the power of the Council of Elders; Mrs. Murmelstein’s thoughts about Löwenherz and that there were expectations that he write an authentic history; H. G. Adler's book about Theresienstadt; his thoughts on Karl Löwenstein; getting back some of his documents after his trial; meeting with Eichmann and discussing the Heydrich assassination and the bombing attack; his view of the German non-Jewish population and their views on the plight of the Jews; his interactions with Eichmann in Theresienstadt; and the class system in Theresienstadt.

Interviewee
Dr. Benjamin Murmelstein
Interviewer
Dr. Edith Ehrlich
Dr. Leonard H. Ehrlich
Language
English
Extent
6 sound cassettes : analog..
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Carl S. Ehrlich
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Record last modified: 2018-04-12 13:00:12
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn114055