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Oral history interview with Henry Freier

Oral History | Accession Number: 1992.A.0126.14 | RG Number: RG-50.156.0014

Henry Freier, born Tzvi Hersch on July 22, 1914 in Łódź, Poland, discusses his father David, who was born in Kutno; his mother Rachel, who was born in Sgersh, Poland; his mother’s death in 1917; his eight siblings; being raised observant Jews; attending services on Fridays; attending cheder and two years of Yeshiva; experiencing antisemitism as a child; leaving Poland at age 17 and traveling around Europe for two years with four friends; staying with grand rabbi Professor Liebig in Prague, Czechoslovakia (Czech Republic); going to Germany and hearing Hitler speak in Munich; going to Austria and Italy; being arrested and imprisoned in Trieste for seven days; going to Paris, France; returning to Poland in 1934; competing as a boxer along with Mushka Lieberman; the beginning of the war; Jews being forced to live in a ghetto, including his family except for one brother; the deportation of his family to Majdanek, where they all perished; being in the ghetto until 1944 with his wife Ann and their child; his work digging ditches and preparing potatoes for winter storage; Chaim Rumkowski who ran the ghetto; opening a store on the corner of Melinarskaa and Zgierska Streets selling smuggled goods; being caught and lashed by the Kriminalpolizei; being rescued from custody by David Gertler, a friend of his who had connections with the Gestapo; living in one room with his wife, baby, and three others; women and children, including his wife, being taken to Chelmno and killed; witnessing the Chief of the Gestapo, Alfred Stromberg, murder of a woman and her daughter; being taken to Auschwitz; the selection process; being taken to the Ziegenlager (the Romani barrack) until most of the Romanies were killed; being sent to Gross-Rosen; being given the number 18091; his numerous jobs at the camp, including one job stopping suicidal inmates from running into the electrified fence; being selected to be a butcher; being beaten frequently by Jewish Lagereldester (“blockälteste”) Schmiel Radig who worked in the kitchen; being marched with 600 other inmates in 1945 to Germany; bribing the Stubeneldster with a platinum dental plate to give him and Benno Latarus dishwashing jobs; his additional job going through clothes for valuables; other Jews calling them Verfluchte Juden, “rotten Jews”; the guards fleeing in April 1945; suffering from typhoid fever; hiding with others in a barn in Lebenau; being liberated by Americans; killing seven SS guards along with several others; working for the American government apprehending war criminals and smugglers; his work setting up a Jewish Committee and establishing a Jewish cemetery; helping Jews in DP camps in Ainring and Liebenau in Germany until 1949 when he immigrated to the United States; settling in Minneapolis, MN; his second marriage and his two children; and his Jewish life in the US.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Freier, Henry
Lewin, Rhoda G.
interview:  1985 June 20
2 sound cassettes (90 min.).
Record last modified: 2022-06-23 09:45:46
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