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Oral history interview with Kurt Klappholz

Oral History | Accession Number: 1995.A.1285.60 | RG Number: RG-50.149.0060

Kurt Klappholz, born in Bielsko-Biala, Poland, describes growing up in the 1930s; his family; antisemitism; the 1937 pogrom; Zionists organizations; deciding not to leave Poland; the beginning of the war; the German occupation and the burning of the synagogue; his father’s arrest; wearing the Star of David; being forced to move from west to east Bielsko-Biala in 1941; conditions during 1941; deciding to work for the Germans to avoid deportation; working near Teschen (Cieszyn, WojewÛdztwo Slaskie, Poland), producing equipment for Afrika Korps; being deported in June 1942 and separated from his parents; staying briefly in the Sosnowiec camp; being interned at the Sakrau camp and his work building the autobahn; being sent to the Laurahütte camp form August to September 1942; being sent to Gross-Paniow and Brande concentration camps in the fall of 1942; the camp guards and work songs; being transported to Gross-Sarne concentration camp then Gross-Masselwitz; his work and the organization of the camp; being interned in Ludwigsdorf in January 1943 and working in an ammunitions factory; his friendship with another inmate; being sent to Gröditz and finding a distant relative; spending time in the camp hospital; being sent back to Brande; his work gardening in the camp; murders in the camp; being sent to Blechhammer; British prisoners of war in the camp; the relations between various groups of inmates and German civilian workers; dysentery in the camp; religion in the camp; the incorporation of Blechhammer into Auschwitz; the tattooing of inmates; SS guards; non-Jewish Kapos; the women's camp; working for Jewish doctors in the hospital; the sexual advances of the doctor; helping to cremate bodies in the crematorium; the execution of inmates for suspected sabotage; the treatment of patients with gangrene and boils; the bombings in the summer of 1944; marching out of Blechhammer in January 1945; being interned at Gross-Rosen for three nights; being sent to Buchenwald by train; dreaming of food and revenge; being deloused; the death of one of his friends; political prisoners being Kapos; his internment at Kaiseroda and working in a salt mine; the resistance of Russian prisoners; antisemitism; marching back to Buchenwald; the journey to Flossenbürg; being evacuated; avoiding close relationships with other inmates; escape attempts; being liberated by American troops on April 23, 1945; refusing to take revenge towards a captured SS man; the reaction of civilians to released inmates; convalescing in a Red Cross hospital; the typhus epidemic; being employed by the US Army; the attitude of the German population towards defeat; not wanting to return to Poland; staying at an UNRRA children's camp; his relationship with a German girl; his immigrating to Britain and staying in Wintersill Hall in October 1945; giving an interview to radio a journalist; the lack of psychiatric help for refugees; his friendship with an American photographer; life in London and staying at a hostel on Finchley Road; his feelings on religion; his education; communicating with an aunt and uncle in France; finding out the fate of his immediate family; attending the London School of Economics; how his Holocaust experiences have affected his life; his reaction to the Nuremberg Trials; his attitude towards Germans; returning to Bielsko-Biala; and the legacy of Hitler and WWII.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Klappholz, Kurt
21 sound cassettes (90 min.).
Record last modified: 2022-07-28 20:09:50
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