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Oral history interview with Martin Hoffman

Oral History | Accession Number: 1995.A.1285.23 | RG Number: RG-50.149.0023

Martin Josef Hoffman, born in 1929 in Prague, Czech Republic, describes his family; his neighborhood; his education and health problems; reasons for his move to live with relatives in the Carpathian Mountains; the Jewish and Russian Christian communities; the Hungarian occupation of the Carpathian region in Czechoslovakia from 1939 to 1940; the effects of the Hungarian occupation; his parents' fate in Prague; the food situation; the confiscation of Jewish businesses; his opinion of Hitler's attitude to Jews; the restrictions on education; his religious life; living in Budapest, Hungary from 1940 to 1944; his failure to emigrate in 1940; support from Jewish community; daily life in the city; hearing stories of German antisemitic atrocities; the German occupation of Hungary in 1944 and the reaction of Jewish community; the contrasts between Hungarian and German attitudes towards Jews; his deportation from Budapest to Auschwitz in early 1944; the journey there and not knowing his fate; the reception in Birkenau and Auschwitz and the selection process; his initial impressions of the camp; being shaved and receiving an uniform; the role of Kapos; avoiding classification as a child; conditions in the camp; being an inmate in Buna Monowitz in 1944; his daily routine and conditions in the camp; the attempted rape by a Kapo and consequences; his efforts to avoid work; being selected for engineering training; the health situation; the medical facilities and the fate of the chronically sick; the lack of hygiene; the mental state of inmates; the guards’ willingness to shoot inmates; the role and nature of Kapos; recreation; rumors of German defeats; the political and criminal inmates; relations with other inmates; the abandonment of religious dietary laws; the loss of faith; mental attitudes; his selection for gate duties and his consequent transfer to Glewitz; his daily routine at the gate; the barrack accommodations; the cruelty of Kapos; the hanging of inmate escapees; varying degrees of brutality of different SS camp commandants; work duties; the story of being given a meal by a German Army officer; the evacuation of camp in February 1945 and the journey from Glewitz to Buchenwald; the death march and the execution of inmates falling out; the varying behavior of German guards; their interval at Gross-Rosen; being loaded into cattle trucks; the effects of hunger; the casualties amongst the prisoners; life in Buchenwald, including the conditions and death rate; being transferred to the main camp for kitchen duties; the German Communist Kapos; his efforts to aid friends; the avoidance of a second death march; staying in camp as after the evacuation; being liberated by United States troops in April 1945; the German resistance in the nearby woods; moving to SS quarters and bartering with US troops; being a displaced person in Czechoslovakia and Germany in 1945; returning to Prague to search for his family; his role as a mascot with a US Army unit in Germany; his second return to Prague; immigrating to Great Britain; the free travel for former inmates; the long term effects of his experience and his attitude towards Germans; his refusal to take reprisals against Germans; and the capture of SS guards during liberation and the treatment of former Kapos.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Hoffman, Martin
interview:  1985 December 07
3 sound cassettes (90 min.).
Record last modified: 2022-07-28 20:09:49
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