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Oral history interview with Ernst L. Presseisen

Oral History | Accession Number: 1997.A.0441.46 | RG Number: RG-50.462.0046

Ernst Presseisen, born July 13, 1928 in Rotterdam, Netherlands, describes his father, who was a businessman; the German invasion of Holland and the bombing of Rotterdam in May 1940; the gradually tightening restrictions imposed by the Germans to isolate the Dutch-Jewish citizens; the roundups of Jewish men beginning in July 1942; his father receiving help from Christian friends who had contact with the underground; his mother's arrest by Dutch police canceling the family’s escape plan; the entire family, including his mother, being deported to Westerbork in August 1942 and staying there until February 1944; life in Westerbork in detail, including his own development of survival skills; how his family managed to remain there instead of being deported to Poland; Geneker, the commander of Westerbork; being deported in February 1944 to Bergen-Belsen with his family; his experiences there, including slave labor assignments and general deterioration of the inmates health; Jewish prisoners organizing a theatre group called "Cabaret Westerbork"; contracting typhus and his oldest brother dying of typhus in the fall of 1944; Greek Kapos; the evacuation of the camp in April 1945 as British troops approached; being liberated by the Russians and ordered to requisition housing in Trebitsch, Germany (Trebic, Czech Republic); survival in Trebitsch; his parents’ deaths from typhus; being repatriated to the Netherlands by the Red Cross in June 1945; life in post-war Holland; immigrating to the United States in October 1946; settling in California with relatives; and teaching German history at the university level after getting his degree.

Interviewee
Ernst L. Presseisen
Date
1985 April 22  (interview)
Language
English
Extent
2 sound cassettes (60 min.).
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, gift of the Holocaust Oral History Archive of Gratz College
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Record last modified: 2018-01-22 10:51:11
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn508666