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Oral history interview with Samuel Wachtel

Oral History | Accession Number: 1995.A.1280.20 | RG Number: RG-50.225.0020

Samuel Wachtel, born in 1913 in Kraków, Poland, discusses his early life; attending a Polish school; having cordial relations with non-Jews; the picketing of Jewish stores; the German invasion; being arrested with Poles and Jews in early September 1939; being detained at Gestapo headquarters, then Montelupich prison; the release of the non-Jewish prisoners; being transferred to Troppau (Opava, Czech Republic); encountering Gustaw Morcinek, a prominent Polish writer; being transferred to Sachsenhausen some two years later; the separation of Jews; a sadistic barrack commander; the loss of his toes due to severe cold; the relations between prisoner groups; slave labor in a quarry; being transferred to Gross-Rosen; the frequent deaths and beatings; being transferred to Auschwitz in 1942; working in Buna/Monowitz; the selections; being tattooed; meeting and helping two friends from Kraków; becoming head of a Kommando; a severe beating; being transferred to Janina (Janinagrube) as punishment for smuggling food; returning to Auschwitz; the death march in January 1945; escaping and receiving help from a farmer; liberation by Soviet troops; returning to Kraków; unsuccessfully seeking his relatives; receiving help from Polish friends; getting married; details of camp life and his state of mind; sharing his experiences with his children; his reluctance to be videotaped; his participation in ceremonies at Auschwitz; and his membership in the Association of the Former Political Prisoners.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Samuel Wachtel
Michal Sobelman
interview:  1995 May 12
2 videocassettes (U-Matic) : sound, color ; 3/4 in..
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, courtesy of the Jeff and Toby Herr Foundation
Record last modified: 2020-03-26 09:32:15
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