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Oral history interview with Joseph Elman

Oral History | Accession Number: 1998.A.0113 | RG Number: RG-50.030.0390

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.

Joseph Elman, born on February 2, 1922 in Pruzana, Poland, describes growing up in a religious Jewish family and in a large, active Jewish community; his recollections of antisemitism before the war; becoming involved with the Betar Zionist youth movement after listening to radio reports about Hitler and the Nazi rise to power; the Russian takeover of Pruzana on September 1, 1939 and the Nazi takeover on June 23, 1941; the establishment of a ghetto in Pruzana in September 1941 and moving in there with his family in mid-1942; working for the ghetto’s food department; the influx of people into the ghetto from other towns and hearing their stories of villages being wiped out by the Germans; joining a partisan resistance group with his brother and smuggling weapons into the ghetto; the four-day liquidation of the Pruzana ghetto beginning on January 27, 1943; escaping into the forest with his partisan group and living there for the next year and a half; joining a larger group of Soviet partisans (Panteleimon Ponomarenko’s partisan group) in September 1943 and then having to register and form organized groups for the Soviet government; his assignment to the Kirov Brigade, where he handled the group’s anti-tank gun and helped to destroy Nazi supply trains, cut telephone and telegraph wires, and divert the German military’s attention from the Soviet army; his liberation by the Soviet Army in July 1944 and learning that his mother, father, and sisters had died; traveling through Białystok, Lódz, Vienna, Bratislava, and Graz until arriving in a displaced persons camp outside of Munich, Germany; and immigrating to and arriving in New York on June 7, 1947.

Interviewee
Joseph Elman
Interviewer
Katie Davis
Date
1998 May 19  (interview)
Language
English
Genre/Form
Oral histories.
Extent
6 videocasettes (Betacam SP) : sound, color ; 1/2 in..