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Oral history interview with Ben Stern

Oral History | Accession Number: 1995.A.1263.33 | RG Number: RG-50.166.0033

Ben Stern, born in 1924 in Kielce, Poland, describes being the youngest of four children; his family’s move to Łódź, Poland in 1930; his father’s work producing uniforms; life in Łódź and attending public school; experiencing antisemitism; how an Austrian refugee family moved in with his family in 1938; being in school the day the war began; the group Endecja (Narodowa Demokracja) promoting hate and antisemitism; the bombing of Łódź; being taken during a roundup and made to clean the school yard with other Jewish youths; having to wear the yellow star; moving with his family back to Kielce in December 1939; how life was a little easier in Kielce; the creation of a ghetto in 1940 and living there until 1943; life in the ghetto and the lack of food; sneaking out of the ghetto to get food; the policing of the ghetto by Jews; being caught by a Jewish policeman and an SS guard while smuggling potatoes into the ghetto; being beaten and threatened; being taken to work in a local forced labor camp (Henryków), making wagons for the German forces; the deportation of his family in 1943; having to clean the ghetto with other forced laborers; receiving food from a Polish girl who worked in the factory; the heat during the summer of 1943; being sent to Auschwitz and his arrival there; being constantly worried about the crematorium and the smell from it; the roll calls; being made to bring bodies to the crematorium; work details in Birkenau; being transferred to Sachsenhausen; losing his faith while in the camps; being moved to other camps, including Dachau; contracting scarlet fever; being left behind as the other prisoners were marched to Allach; being liberated by American troops; meeting his wife in 1945; living in Karlsfeld with a German family after sneaking out of a displaced persons camp; his children and grandchildren; going to the United States in June 1949; being proud to be an American; his early years in the US and living in Columbia, SC; working as a carpenter and as a foreman for a building supply company; and his belief that all racism and prejudice is wrong and all people can learn from the Holocaust.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Ben Stern
Richard Irwin
interview:  1991 August 15
2 videotape reels (1" Type C) : sound, color ; 1 in..
Record last modified: 2020-03-26 09:30:44
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