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Oral history interview with Stephanie Hessel

Oral History | Accession Number: 1995.A.1285.19 | RG Number: RG-50.149.0019

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

Stephane Hessel, born in Berlin, Germany in 1917, describes his family moving to Paris, France in 1924; his parents; his education; his attitude towards the Nazi regime and his reaction to the Munich Crisis in 1938; his conscription into French Army in 1939 and being an officer; the retreat after May 10, 1940 and the morale in the French Army; his attitude towards Fifth Column; reaction to the Dunkirk Evacuation and Mers el Kebir; escaping from France to Great Britain in 1940-1941; being an officer with Bureau Central de Renseignements et d’Action (BCRA) in England from 1942 to 1944; his initial training as a navigator with the Royal Air Force from 1941 to 1942; being recruited to intelligence service; his role and duties; aspects of operations as officer with the BCRA in 1944; parachuting into France in March 1944; his role organizing resistance communications; being captured by the Gestapo and interrogated; being sent to Buchenwald concentration camp in October 1944; arriving in the camp; his change of identity; working in a German factory; escaping from the camp and being re-captured; being sent to Dora concentration camp in February 1945; living under threat of execution; conversations with V2 saboteurs; escaping from a train near Luneburg, Germany in April 1945; joining US forces near Hanover, Germany; his temporary capture by SS; the comparisons between Buchenwald and Dora concentration camps; control by ‘criminal’ inmates in Dora; working on V-weapons; sabotage attempt on V-weapons; his own Kommando at Dora; the arrival of victims from concentration camps in the east; the use of limited power by ‘political’ inmates in Buchenwald; the divide and rule tactics employed in concentration camps; the attitude towards Russian inmates in Buchenwald; memories of Wing Commander F F E Yeo-Thomas; his opinion of misconceptions about concentration camps; the Nazi attitude towards camp inmates; his contact with Jehovah’s Witnesses in the camps; the behavior of ‘mussulmen’; possessing an escaping mentality; Rottleberode work camp; the degree of breakdown in Germany in the spring of 1945; the effects of his experiences on personal attitudes; the achievements of the resistance in France in 1944; and his observations on the British during World War II.

Interviewee
Stephanie Hessel
Date
1989 June 18  (interview)
Language
English
Extent
2 sound cassettes (90 min.).
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Record last modified: 2018-01-22 10:45:09
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn510827