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Oral history interview with Berko Kolodner

Oral History | RG Number: RG-50.243.0019

Berko Kolodner, born in 1893 in Krynki, Poland, discusses his five brothers and three sisters; his father who had a leather factory; his religious upbringing; being sent to Bialystok, Poland for high school; his desire to attend university, but not being allowed to because he was Jewish; serving in the Russian army during WWI; his family being poor after the war; moving to Switzerland, where he earned his medical degree at the University of Bern in 1925; working as a physician in Vilna (now Vilnius, Lithuania); the Germans bombing and invading Vilna; being sent to the Vilna ghetto; the terrible conditions in the ghetto; his medical practice in the ghetto; his wife, who was also in Vilna; his family in Krynki being deported to Treblinka; Jacob Gens, a ghetto leader, who tried to hold the people together in the ghetto but was eventually killed; the liquidation of the ghetto; his wife being sent to Auschwitz and killed; being sent to several camps in Estonia, including Vaivara, Kuremäe, Lagedi, and Goldfields; the conditions in those camps; being taken by boat to Germany and then Stutthof, where he worked on roofs; being in Buchenwald for two weeks, where he felt like he was dying but people gave him a little more food; the overwhelming hunger at that time; being sent to Colditz in Saxony, Germany; being sent on a starvation march to Theresienstadt; working as a doctor in Theresienstadt, but having no medications to treat people; being liberated by the Russians; one friend from Vilna, Dr. Brijetski who wrote a book about their experiences and eventually moved to Israel; believing he survived by a miracle; being very sick at liberation and spending several months in the hospital in Prague, Czech Republic with a serious staph infection; recovering; working in a monastery, St. Ottilien Archabbey, near Munich for three years; working as a physician the monastery, which was partially transformed into a hospital; meeting his wife there; his positive interactions with the Americans; going to the Netherlands in 1950; immigrating to the United States; the difficulty he has experienced adjusting to life in the US; and not receiving reparations from Germany.


Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Interviewee
Berko Kolodner
Date
interview:  1983 January 30
Geography
creation: Massachusetts.
Language
English
Extent
1 videocassette (VHS) : sound, color ; 1/2 in..
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
 
Record last modified: 2021-04-01 13:46:21
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn514132