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Oral history interview with Werner Barasch

Oral History | Digitized | Accession Number: 1999.A.0122.392 | RG Number: RG-50.477.0392

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    Oral history interview with Werner Barasch


    Interview Summary
    Werner Barasch, born in May 1919 in Breslau, Germany (now Wroclaw, Poland), describes growing up in a wealthy Jewish family; his father (Arthur), who had founded the first mass merchandising firm in Eastern Germany; moving to Berlin with his family circa 1921; living in a beautiful house and receiving a great education; participating in a Jewish boy scout organization; celebrating Jewish holidays with his extended family and occasionally attending synagogue; going to Italy in 1933 to continue his education; graduating in 1938; the arrests of Jews in Italy; going to Switzerland; his mother and sister who were in the United States, while his father was still in Berlin; going to Paris, France in July 1939; passing a teacher's certificate course; the beginning of the war; being arrested and sent to camp Ruchard for six months; the liquidation of the camp and fleeing to Southern France; going to Marseille in the hopes of getting a visa; bring rounded up by the Germans; being sent to camp Les Milles; deciding to escape when he heard they would be transferred to camp Gurs; escaping over the walls and crossing the border into Switzerland on a bike; being arrested in Geneva and extradited to France; being sent to camp Argeles in Southern France near the Pyrenees Mountains; escaping from the camp and walking to Spain; being arrested and sent to prison for 100 days; being sent to camp Miranda; conditions in the camp; working many different jobs in the camp, including the censorship office and being able to feed information to the British; being released in 1943; working in an office organizing papers for prisoners and trying to get his visa for the United States; being refused many times because his story was not credible and he ended up staying in Spain for two years after his release from Miranda; securing his visa and sailing from Lisbon, Portugal to the US in 1945; landing in Philadelphia, PA on VE day; staying with his mother; his sister who became a psychiatrist in California; learning that his father died in Sachsenhausen in 1945; attending UC Berkeley, MIT, and Colorado University; working as a chemist in California; never getting married; his mother’s death at age 92; crediting his survival throughout the war to his attitude of never giving up and not accepting being a victim; his lack of emotional attachment to his experiences; his fluency in German, English, Italian, French, and Spanish; and the book he wrote about his experiences (he shares photographs from his book at the end of the interview; the book is titled “Survivor: autobiographical fragments, 1938-1946”).
    Werner Barasch
    interview:  2001 November 14
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Jewish Family and Children's Services of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties

    Physical Details

    Oral histories.
    1 videocassette (SVHS) : sound, color ; 1/2 in..

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    There are no known restrictions on access to this material.

    Keywords & Subjects

    Personal Name
    Barasch, Werner.

    Administrative Notes

    The Bay Area Holocaust Oral History Project conducted the interview with Werner Barasch on November 14, 2001. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum received the tapes of the interview from the Bay Area Holocaust Oral History Project in October 2002.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this oral history interview has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2023-11-16 08:45:03
    This page:

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