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Oral history interview with Benjamin Murmelstein

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

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    Oral history interview with Benjamin Murmelstein

    Overview

    Interview Summary
    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
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Carl S. Ehrlich

    Physical Details

    Language
    English
    Extent
    6 sound cassettes : analog..

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    Dr. Carl S. Ehrlich donated his parents Leonard and Edith Ehrlich's collection of oral history interviews and research files compiled for their book "Choices Under Duress of the Holocaust" to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in December 2012.
    Record last modified:
    2023-11-16 09:34:24
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn114055

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