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Oral history interview with Machislav Gurvich

Oral History | Accession Number: 1995.A.1272.311 | RG Number: RG-50.120.0311

Michesław (Machislav) Gurvich, born in 1923 in Kraków, Poland, discusses being one of two children; his father's business transporting coal; their poverty; his sister's birth in 1930; assisting in his father's business; antisemitic harassment by Poles; German invasion; a futile attempt to flee east; working with his father delivering flour for the Germans; ghettoization; he and his father smuggling goods while making deliveries; both being interrogated and beaten but not confessing; their release; passing as a non-Jew outside the ghetto (he spoke perfect Polish and was blond); round-ups and deportations; being assigned to take corpses from a mass killing at the hospital to Płaszów; negotiating to prevent his mother's deportation; frequent encounters with his father; an unsuccessful attempt to hide friends from deportation; deportation with his family to Płaszów; separation from his mother and sister; mass killings; slave labor in a warehouse, then the SS kitchen, which provided him with extra food; smuggling food; narrowly escaping being shot by Kommandant Amon Göth; public hangings; deportation of his mother and sister (he never saw them again); deportation to Auschwitz in January 1945; a death march two days later to Oranienburg; transfer to Flossenbürg; a former guard from Płaszów giving him a loaf of bread; transfer to Dresden, Leitmeritz, then Theresienstadt; liberation by Soviet troops; hospitalization in Litoměřice; joining his father in Feldafing; assistance from UNRRA; searching in vain for his mother for months; returning to Feldafing via Berlin; writing a letter on behalf of a guard who had helped him; not sharing his story, even with his wife and children, due to pervasive painful memories and nightmares; the impossibility of trying to “expel his memories from his brain”; and testifying at a war crime trial in Hamburg.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Machislav Gurvich
interview:  1996 November 28
6 videocassettes (U-Matic) : sound, color ; 3/4 in..
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, courtesy of the Jeff and Toby Herr Foundation
Record last modified: 2020-08-03 11:26:24
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