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Oral history interview with George 'Gecel' Steinic

Oral History | Digitized | Accession Number: 1996.A.0586.65 | RG Number: RG-50.407.0065

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    Oral history interview with George 'Gecel' Steinic


    Interview Summary
    George Steinic, born on September 30, 1926 in Bedzin, Poland, discusses his parents; his three sisters; his Orthodox family life and education; the town population of about 30,000 Jews and 20,000 Christians; the town’s economy being mostly prosperous based on manufacturing; his father’s awareness of developments in Western Europe and disinclination to leave Poland when others did so; the German invasion in September 1939; the hanging of two bakers for raising bread prices; random killing and bribing of Jews by a Polish policeman; wearing the yellow star; the beatings and harassment of Jews; the burning of the synagogue; burning to death of some 200 Jews in their houses, and a few who were saved in a church; the gradual deterioration of conditions and resettling of some Jews; the deportation of some Jews to Auschwitz and the failure of Jews to believe reports or rumors of atrocities there; being taken with about a thousand Jews on 7 April 1942 to a series of labor camps; living in barracks and the conditions there; the presence in the camps of British POWs; being taken to build work camps; the attitudes of Poles being worse than the Germans; working on munitions for Krupp; hearing of the death of his family with the liquidation of the Bedzin Ghetto; being sent to a new camp where he worked as a carpenter; being aware of the progress of the war; friendships made almost entirely on the basis of mutual support; never believing he would survive the war but wanting to survive to bear witness to events; the approach of Russian forces in 1945, liquidation of the camps, and forced marches during which those who could not walk were shot; arrival at Gross-Rosen; the consolidation of prisoners from several camps; the brutal treatment; washing and maintaining personal hygiene as a key to survival; managing to maintain his health by obtaining food; importance to survival of doing one’s work well; being sent to Buchenwald but then on to Flossenbürg due to lack of room; some Jews voluntarily cooperating to survive; several people being killed by Germans and also by Americans; being liberated by U.S. Army troops on 23 April 1945 and receiving crucial help from an American captain; staying in Weiden, Germany, where he married; moving to Brussels, Belgium in December 1945; returning briefly to his home in Bedzin, and finding it occupied by Poles who said they now owned it and turned him away; briefly recounting the story of a Jew who was soon after killed by Poles in similar circumstances; immigrating to Israel (near Petah Tikvah), but then returning to Brussels for one year; ending up in Melbourne, Australia, where he and his wife raised a son and daughter; not telling his children much about his wartime experiences; and advising future generations of Jews to fight, but not believing he can advise them on religion.
    George Steinic
    Phillip Maisel
    interview:  1996 July 16

    Physical Details

    1 videocassette (VHS) : sound, color ; 1/2 in..

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    There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
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    Keywords & Subjects

    Personal Name
    Steinic, George, 1926-

    Administrative Notes

    Jewish Holocaust Museum and Research Centre conducted the interview on July 16, 1996, in Melbourne, Australia. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum acquired the tape of the interview in July 1996.
    Record last modified:
    2023-11-16 08:29:24
    This page:

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