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Oral history interview with Rudolf Vrba

Oral History | RG Number: RG-50.148.0013

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

Rudolf Vrba, born in Trnava, Slovakia, describes growing up in Bratislava, Slovakia; identifying as a Slovak; being allowed to attend only eight grades of school because he was Jewish (he was 14 years old when he was no longer allowed to attend school in 1939); anti-Jewish laws that were passed; Jews having to wear a yellow star; the Jewish council, which was in charge of dealing with government agencies; the Zionists; being sent to a transit camp in 1942; the terrible conditions in the train cars on the journey there and the death of some of the passengers; his experiences at Majdanek, where he saw children killed, women clubbed, and bones broken; spending 14 days in the camp then volunteering in June 1942 with 400 other men to go to Auschwitz; the selection process in the camp; his friends who had been in the Sonderkommando before him and were killed; how each day was a fight for the possibility to live another day; the separation of the Sonderkommando from the general prisoners; the attitudes of the Sonderkommandos while they were working; hearing in January 1944 that a large extermination action was being planned and making plans to escape; escaping with his friend Vecla Margovich; being questioned by the Jewish Council in Bratislava, who did not believe at first what he said about Auschwitz; receiving help from the Communist group in Trnava; his return to Bratislava; living with the partisans for about two months (possibly in the fall of 1944); and his thoughts on the war crime trials for Auschwitz guards.

Interviewee
Rudolf Vrba
Date
1972  (interview)
Language
English
Extent
1 sound cassette : analog.
Credit Line
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, purchased from the Imperial War Museum
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Record last modified: 2018-01-22 10:43:10
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn510183