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Oral history interview with Samuel Gottesman

Oral History | Accession Number: 1990.8.10 | RG Number: RG-50.063.0010

Samuel Gottesman, born in Irsava, Czechoslovakia (Irshava, Ukraine) on October 20, 1923, describes his town in the Carpathian Mountains; his family; the languages he spoke; his Orthodox father; having only Jewish friends; the peaceful co-existence of Jews and non-Jews; having to learn to speak Hungarian; how his father had to shave his beard and do forced labor; how the Arrow Cross Hungarian Nazis, were not as bad as in the larger towns; being forced to subscribe to a German-leaning newspaper published in Budapest, Hungary; how Hungarians were brought in and took over Jewish businesses; how the Jewish Hungarians had to prove they had lived in that area for three generations or face deportation to Poland; the deportation of his sister; how about 10 percent of people in Irsava were deported to Galicia, Ukraine and shot; the black market; how the Jews in Irsava were told to report to the synagogue; hiding their jewelry in their shed; how one third of the town was designated as a ghetto; being sent after a week to Mukacheve, Ukraine; the brutality of the German SS guards towards the elderly Jews; how Eichmann came to Mukacheve for an inspection; being transported to Auschwitz; his first impressions of the camp; being shaved and dunked in disinfectant; being put on a train three days later with his father and sent to Wolfsburg, Germany; performing forced labor, digging ditches and putting in foundations for buildings; being transferred to a camp in Silesia and contemplating suicide; some bombings and an air raid one night; convincing the German guards not to send him the Auschwitz because of his young age; how having his father with him kept him going; how they were sent to Gross-Rosen, where they could take showers and had access to potatoes and bread; being evacuated; going to Hannover, Germany; returning to Czechoslovakia; returning to Irsava; contacting a cousin, who was in the U.S. Army, and going to live in a home he appropriated in Augsburg, Germany, where lived with his father, sister, uncle, and three cousins; registering in a displaced persons camp near Ulm, Germany; the death of his father in 1961 and the impact it had on him; getting married and having children; and how his wife is unable to talk about her experiences at Auschwitz.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Samuel Gottesman
interview:  1989 August 22
1 videocassette (VHS) : sound, color ; 1/2 in..
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, acquired from Holocaust Center of the United Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh
Record last modified: 2020-03-26 09:32:29
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