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Oral history interview with Michael Finkelstein

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

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.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Finkelstein, Michael
interview:  1985 April 21
1 sound cassette (60 min.).
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Gratz College Holocaust Oral History Archive
Record last modified: 2022-07-28 20:10:41
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