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Oral history interview with Jan Bokus

Oral History | Accession Number: 1998.A.0300.117 | RG Number: RG-50.488.0117

Jan Bokus, born on February 4, 1921 in Warsaw, Poland, discusses the beginning of the war in 1939; attending a vocational school and learned to be a carpenter and electrician during the first two years of the war; his work as an electrician in Dęblin in a German airplane hangar in 1941; an accidental fire at the hangar that resulted in his arrest by the Germans; being released from prison and moving to Wąsosz in hope of crossing the nearby border to Upper Silesia, there he hoped to avoid further German prosecution; the Jewish population from the town of Wąsosz, where his sister and her husband lived; his limited interactions with the Wąsosz Jews and explains that his sister and her husband were sheltering Jews in their attic; leaving the General Government and cross the border to Upper Silesia; being apprehended by the Germans and transported to the Auschwitz concentration camp; the inhumane transport to the camp and the trauma of arriving at the camp; working in the camp as a laborer and then as an electrician; the worse hygiene and living conditions in the women’s camp in Birkenau; seeing female prisoners who were subjected to gynecological experiments; the frequent transports to Auschwitz in 1943 and the construction of new crematoria and burning pits; his memories of the Sonderkommandos, which were responsible for servicing the crematoria; his work installing electricity in crematorium number two; his thoughts on individuals who do not believe that Jews were gassed in Auschwitz; being relocated in 1944 through Sachsenhausen to Buchenwald, where he helped to manufacture airplane parts; the evacuation of the Buchenwald camp and his march to Theresienstadt; suffering from typhoid shortly before liberation; his journey back to Wąsosz; and his work as the president of Polski Związek Byłych Więźniów Obozów Koncentracyjnych (the Association of Former Prisoners of Concentration Camps).

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Jan Bokus
interview:  1999 October 08
4 videocasettes (Betacam SP) : sound, color ; 1/2 in..
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, courtesy of the Jeff and Toby Herr Foundation
Record last modified: 2021-02-16 15:52:41
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