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Oral history interview with Hermine Schmidt

Oral History | Accession Number: 1992.A.0124.87 | RG Number: RG-50.028.0087

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

Hermine Schmidt, born in 1925 in the free city of Danzig (now Gdańsk, Poland), discusses her parents; her sisters; growing up in Danzig; her mother’s Bible studies; her parents’ first contact with Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1919 and converting in 1920; Danzig after Hitler’s rise to power; her parents instructing her and her sisters to not say “Heil Hitler” or salute; her difficulties at school and the other children’s treatment; hearing about arrests of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Danzig and in Germany; her parents emphasizing Bible study and keeping faith; fearing the Gestapo; she and her family experiencing persecution; her parents’ occasional work as couriers for distributing Jehovah’s Witnesses publications; meeting her future husband, also a Jehovah’s Witness; her and her parents’ arrest by the Gestapo in 1943; her imprisonment in a small cell at Gestapo headquarters for a week; being interrogated and pressed for names of other Jehovah’s Witnesses; the beatings her husband endured during interrogations; being transported to Stutthof; forming close relationships with some of the other Jehovah’s Witnesses prisoners; being assigned to heavy work details because of her young age; Soviet soldiers’ arrival at Stutthof after she had left via transport; the different types of prisoners and the conditions in Stutthof; gay prisoners in the men’s section of the camp; the writer Hermann Hesse; her parents’ wartime experiences; being transported by boat to Germany near the war’s end, but arriving in Klintholm Havn, Denmark in May 1945; being released into the care of the Red Cross; the teachings of the Bible; having to wear a purple triangle badge in Stutthof; being offered the chance to leave Stutthof if she signed a document renouncing her faith, but refusing to do so; the behavior of guards in Stutthof; poetry she wrote after the war; and her husband’s wartime experiences. (Family photographs and descriptions follow the interview.)

Interviewee
Hermine Schmidt
Interviewer
Robert Buckley
Date
1995 July 25  (interview)
Language
German
Extent
1 videocassette (VHS) : sound, color ; 1/2 in..
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Record last modified: 2018-11-15 14:43:11
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn508827