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Oral history interview with Gunter Siemeister

Oral History | Accession Number: 1999.A.0310.12 | RG Number: RG-50.486.0012

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

Gunter Siemeister, born in 1921 in Neuwied, Germany, describes his family and childhood, including his membership to the Jungvolk beginning in 1933 and his education; how two of his Jewish classmates did not return to school one year, and his assumption that they had emigrated; his friendly relations with a Jewish family who owned an animal feed store; how the family’s furniture was thrown out of windows on Kristallnacht; joining the military in 1939; his appointment to lieutenant in 1941; his encounter with Jewish slave laborers in Minsk, Belarus who were assigned to renovate a block of housing for his army unit in 1942; the soldiers’ treatment of the laborers; receiving orders to participate in the defense of the surrounding area of Auschwitz; his encounter with a group of Jews in Auschwitz after officers abandoned the camp; being present in Auschwitz during the camp’s liberation by the Russian Army; his view that aspects of Auschwitz had been constructed to discredit Germany; his belief that people from Poland, Russia, and the Ukraine came to work in Germany voluntarily; his argument that a documentary about Buchenwald was created to make Germans look like criminals; his time as a Soviet prisoner of war from 1945 to 1949; and his life after the war.

Frau Siemeister, born in Germany, describes seeing Hitler during his visit to Weimar; her father who took a tour of Buchenwald and claimed that the camp was clean and well run and that there were no prisoners from Weimar there; her understanding that only political prisoners were sent to Buchenwald; a Jewish family who lived in her town and managed to immigrate to Argentina; her father’s assistance to an elderly Jewish couple; the internment of her parents after the war; and her anger about a brochure about her hometown which describes the persecution of Jewish there during World War II.

Interviewee
Gunter Siemeister
Date
1999 April 27  (interview)
Language
German
Extent
5 sound cassettes (60 min.).
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, courtesy of the Jeff and Toby Herr Foundation
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Record last modified: 2018-01-22 10:42:52
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn508506