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Oral history interview with Mayer Hersh

Oral History | Accession Number: 1995.A.1285.17 | RG Number: RG-50.149.0017

Mayer Hersh, born in Sieradz, Poland, in 1926, describes his family; education; the orthodox beliefs of his family; his family’s lack of political interest; their loyalty towards Poland; antisemitism in Poland; aspects of being a schoolchild in Sieradz from 1939 to 1940; the reaction to the German invasion in September 1939; leaving their home town; the shooting of Polish civilians by the German Army; living conditions during the occupation; the restrictions on Jews; the execution of a friend by Germans in Otoczna concentration camp in 1940; rumors that Jewish civilians would be transferred to a labor camp; being taken from his family home in March 1940; being an inmate of Otoczna concentration camp from 1940 to 1942; the effects of the lack of food; being beaten by a camp guard; the rations they received; their daily routine and work building a railway line; the suicides of inmates; the possibility of escape; the brutality of Hitler Youth towards his brother in another camp; the attitude of the Polish population towards Jews; the character of Kapos; being an inmate in Auschwitz concentration camp from 1942 to 1944; the selection process under the supervision of Dr. Josef Mengele; roll calls; the construction of a camp compound; selection of inmates for gas chambers; the orchestra playing at the camp gates; the uprising by Sonderkommando in the gas chambers in 1944; the presence of gypsies in the camp and their elimination by the Germans in 1944; resistance in the camp; personal morale; a story of support received from an older inmate during a march in 1945; being an inmate in Stutthof concentration camp in 1944; the presence of his sister in the camp; being moved to an airfield near Stuttgart, Germany, in December 1944; his work duties and contact with German civilians; being an inmate in Gotha then Theresienstadt in 1945; the march to the camp; conditions in the camp and the typhoid epidemic; the death of his friend; liberation of the camp in May 1945; contracting typhoid; his immigration to Great Britain in 1945; arriving in Windermere, England; his attitude towards the work of Jewish organizations; the German medical experimentation on twins in Auschwitz; inmate relations; the discomfort of train journeys; the psychological and physical impact of imprisonment; his attitude towards Germans; the punishment work on Sundays in Auschwitz; medical problems in the camps; an inmate with a sense of humor and rumors about the war’s progress; the degree of religious life in the camps; the impact of his experience on his religious beliefs; and his survival.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Hersh, Mayer
interview:  1987 March 24
3 sound cassettes (90 min.).
Record last modified: 2022-07-28 20:09:49
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