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Oral history interview with Benjamin Lewin

Oral History | Accession Number: 1996.A.0586.1 | RG Number: RG-50.407.0001
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Benjamin Lewin, born in 1926 in Karlsbad (Karlovy Vary), Czech Republic, describes his father, who was a traveling salesman for a shoe manufacturer; his mother, who ran a kosher "Pensionat" (i.e. a small hotel), accommodating 50 guests; the increase in Nazism in 1936; his family moving to Aussig (Ústí nad Labem), Czech Republic; the German takeover of the Sudeten in 1938; his family moving to Prague, Czech Republic; the living conditions in Prague after the German invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1939 and being fraught with fear; his family manufacturing of electric kettles for export to Germany in conjunction with a workshop, which was formerly owned by his uncle and transferred to non-Jewish management; the Jewish life in Prague and his bar mitzvah; their manufacturing job lasting until May 1941 when they ran out of production materials; being provided food by Czech farmers; how the Czech police hated the Germans and behaved "decently"; the deportation of Prague Jews to Theresienstadt beginning in May-June 1941; the lists of the Jewish population that were drawn up by the Jewish administration and how call-ups for "resettlement" took place in alphabetical order; his family being sent to Theresienstadt in September 1941; working as an electrician in the camp; his mother being assigned to the kitchen, which helped him get extra rations; the poor conditions in the camp; he and his father being in a barracks with German Jews and his belief that they received preferential treatment; the well documented visit of the Swiss Red Cross officials and the sham perpetrated by the Germans; being taken with his father to Auschwitz during the summer of 1944; he and his father surviving the selection; being protected by a Kapo along with two other youths; being taken to Czechowice (Tschechowitz), where his father died; being marched to Obitz and then transported in open cattle cars to Buchenwald; how only 1,000 of the 7,000 people on the train survived; being liberated by the Russians; returning to Prague in August 1945; finding his mother and sister who were liberated in Theresienstadt; being called up for military service in the Czech Army; going to Belgium where he briefly attend school; his adjustment to life in Australia; and how he attributes his survival to youth.

Interviewee
Benjamin Lewin
Date
1995 December 12  (interview)
Language
English
Extent
1 videocassette (VHS) : sound, color ; 1/2 in..
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Record last modified: 2018-01-22 10:37:14
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn507199