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Oral history interview with Walter Thalheimer

Oral History | Accession Number: 1989.346.73 | RG Number: RG-50.031.0073

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

Walter Thalheimer, born in 1925 in a small German town in the state of Württemberg, describes his father, who served during WWI; his sister; living a comfortable life; how life changed after 1933; the roundups of Jewish men; how the children in the Hitler Youth would gang up on Jewish children; his father and uncles deciding to move the family to Stuttgart, Germany in 1936; attending an all Jewish school; the events on Kristallnacht, including the burning of the synagogue and deportation of Jewish men to concentration camps; his father and uncle receiving help from a childhood friend who held some power in the Nazi Party; breaking his arm and how there was only one doctor to see all the Jews; receiving affidavits from a cousin in the United States; getting a visa to the US in April 1940; waiting in Cologne, Germany until May 9, 1940 when they were allowed to enter Holland; being kept in a refugee camp in Rotterdam; the German invasion of the Netherlands; receiving help from a rabbi; being forced to leave Rotterdam; having to wear the Jewish star; being sent to Westerbork transit camp; saving his family from deportation because of his job; being deported to Theresienstadt soon after his parents; work in the camp; the propaganda film made of the camp; being transferred with his father in October 1944 to Auschwitz; being separated from his father, who was immediately killed in the gas chamber; how Kapos took their belongings; daily life in Birkenau; being selected for a transfer to Meuselwitz, Germany in November 1944; working in an ammunition camp with a German Gentile who was a communist and smuggled him shoes and food; how some people sabotaged their work; getting shingles; an air raid and the destruction of several buildings; having to disarm unexploded bombs; being transferred in open cattle cars in early 1945 to Czechoslovakia; escaping with a friend into the forest and caught by an SS man after five days; being marched 30 miles to the SS Headquarters and escaping again; being helped by two women; finding an American soldier and being sent to live with other escapees; receiving clothing and food; returning to the Netherlands; and his mother’s survival.

Interviewee
Walter Thalheimer
Date
1986 December 12  (interview)
Language
English
Extent
1 videocassette (VHS) : sound, color ; 1/2 in..
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Record last modified: 2018-01-22 10:55:43
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn507503