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Oral history interview with Ze'ev Galperin

Oral History | Accession Number: 1995.A.1272.324 | RG Number: RG-50.120.0324

Ze’ev Galperin, born in Kaunus, Lithuania in 1927, describes being one of five children; his very close family; attending Jewish schools; his bar mitzvah; the Soviet occupation; transfer to a public school; German invasion; briefly fleeing east with his parents and brothers (one sister fled to Russia, another to Vilnius); finding their home occupied upon their return; moving to his grandfather's home (his grandfather had been killed); a non-Jewish neighbor bringing them food; moving to the ghetto in Slobodka; his sister's return from Vilnius; his father's privileged position as a painter; working with his father; receiving assistance from German soldiers; an “action” and how people were taken to Fort Nine; songs and jokes from the ghetto; sabotaging the machinery in the factory where he worked; transferring to Šanciai with his family (Kauen-Schanzen concentration camp); being deported to Stutthof one year later; separation from his mother and sister; being transferred to Dachau; his youngest brother's selection with a group of 130 children and deciding to join him; the refusal of the children to be gassed and the German relenting and returning them to a barrack; teaching the children to line up for roll call; being transferred with the children to Auschwitz/Birkenau; his illness and the outbreak of scarlet fever; separation from the children; his transfer to Lieberose, then Sachsenhausen; a German prisoner convincing the officers that Ze'ev was not Jewish; calling himself Vitas Chemalsky so that people would not think he was a Jew; his assignment working with prisoners of war; transfer to a steel mill; Allied bombings destroying the facility, thus saving him from discovery as a Jew; returning to Sachsenhausen; a death march towards Hamburg, Germany; being rescued by the Red Army in a forest near Schwerin, Germany (Skwierzyna, Poland); receiving assistance from the Red Cross; returning home; learning his family was in Vilnius and joining them; learning his youngest brother was in Israel (he thought he was dead); becoming an engineer despite anti-Jewish restrictions; his marriage in 1955; the births of his two children; immigrating to Israel to join the rest of his family (his brother remained in Vilnius); and having reunions with the surviving children he was with in Auschwitz/Birkenau. He also sings ghetto songs and shows photographs.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Ze'ev Galperin
interview:  1997 February 07
4 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: 2021-03-30 11:03:04
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