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Oral history interview with Michael Finkelstein

Oral History | Digitized | Accession Number: 1997.A.0441.78 | RG Number: RG-50.462.0078

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    Oral history interview with Michael Finkelstein


    Interview Summary
    Michael Finkelstein, born in Radom, Poland in 1928, describes being educated in both cheder and public schools; the anti-Jewish measures and restrictions after the German invasion of Poland in 1939; the several instances of German-Polish cooperation in persecuting Jews; moving with his family into the ghetto in 1940; supporting themselves by smuggling; witnessing the selections and mass deportations while in the ghetto; working as a slave laborer in various factories; working as a slave laborer in Pionki from 1942 to 1943; being deported with his family to Auschwitz in 1943; the struggle to survive; how he managed to obtain food by working as a cook; how people could become block foremen; seeing Dr. Mengele making selections; seeing the flames from the ovens and smelling burning flesh of victims; getting on a transport with his father in 1943 to work in a coal mine in Upper Silesia, Poland; what gave him the strength to survive; being on a death march from the coal mine to Mauthausen in the winter of 1944; the cruel treatment of prisoners during the death march; being transported with his father to Ebensee death camp in Austria; the several attempts at resistance and why resistance was difficult; he and his father getting sick and his father’s death; the hospital in the camp; events before, during, and after the liberation by American tank units in May 1945; the revenge by some of the non-Jewish prisoners; the condition of the survivors, which the Americans were not prepared to deal with; being treated in an American Field hospital; joining a group of child survivors the Jewish Brigade of the British Army smuggled to Palestine via Italy; getting to Italy but no further; how after four years in a displaced persons camp in Italy, which was supported by UNRRA; going to the United States in 1949; and life in America and his reunion with his sister who also survived.
    Michael Finkelstein
    interview:  1985 April 21
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Gratz College Holocaust Oral History Archive

    Physical Details

    1 sound cassette (60 min.).

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    There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
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    Administrative Notes

    The Gratz College Holocaust Oral History Archive conducted the interview with Michael Finkelstein in Philadelphia, Pa., on April 21, 1985. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum received the tapes of the interview from Gratz College on October 17, 2000.
    Record last modified:
    2023-11-16 08:36:23
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