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Oral history interview with Albert Lewin and Fritz Othenheimer

Oral History | Accession Number: 1990.8.19 | RG Number: RG-50.063.0019

Fritz Othenheimer describes his long lineage of German ancestors; living in Constance (Konstanz), Germany; how his parents owned a small menswear store; the rise of Hitler; the anti-Jewish laws passed; how father had to sell his store; how his parents took in a Jewish family from Austria in 1938 and helped them cross the border into Switzerland; how his family helped more families and he and his siblings took the people across the border because as children they would be less suspicious; his father’s friendship with a lieutenant of the criminal department and how this man helped get more Jews across the border; how on Kristallnacht all the synagogues were blown up and the Jewish men were taken to concentration camps; how his father was arrested and taken to Dachau and released a month later; immigrating to the United States in May 1939; how his family did not cross the border into Switzerland because they were scared of being sent to work camps there; and how he did not find out about the gas chambers used by Nazis until he was in the U.S. Army and going through Germany after the liberation.
Albert Lewin, born in Berlin, Germany in 1925, describes how when he was 16 years old his private school was closed and he was sent to a forced labor camp in Berlin; being sent to Auschwitz when he was 18 years old; going through the selection process; working as a mechanic in the tailor shop that repaired German uniforms; getting a number and a triangle tattooed on his arm; finding out later that 26 of his relatives were killed in 1943, including his grandparents, parents, and brothers; being transferred to Warsaw, Poland in 1943, where he was a runner for the German government headquarters; having to pull the gold teeth from dead prisoners in the morning and managing to steal a few, which he later traded for food; helping a man escape so he could tell the Russians to stop bombarding the camp; how the Germans found out about his role in the escape and tortured him by hanging him from his ears to make him talk; how he did not give up any information and managed to stay alive; being transported to Dachau and being sent on a death march for three days; being sent to Mühldorf; escaping from a transport train that was bombed in May 1945 and staying in a farmer’s house for a few days; his memories of the captain from Columbus, Ohio who liberated him; spending time in a hospital; immigrating to the United States in 1947; not speaking about his experiences until recently; and a note he wrote about Kristallnacht.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Fritz Othenheimer
Albert Lewin
1 videocassette (VHS) : sound, color ; 1/2 in..
Record last modified: 2020-03-26 09:32:30
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