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Oral history interview with George Zimmerman

Oral History | Accession Number: 2015.441.1 | RG Number: RG-50.030.0857

George Zimmerman (né Jerzy “Jurek” Jakub Ogurek), born on October 20, 1933 in Katowice, Poland, discusses growing up in Będzin, Poland; being an only child and living with his parents and grandparents; his father’s work as an insurance adjuster at an Italian company; his grandfather’s leather store in Katowice; the family’s three servants, including a cook, maid, and governess for him; his friends and leisure activities as a child; going to Kielce, Poland five days before the war started with his family; watching as the Germans marched down the street; his father joining the Polish Army but returning home soon after; Germans taking their furniture; having to leave their home and move to another apartment house in 1941; being forced to wear the yellow star; being forced to move into the Srodula ghetto circa 1943; losing the family store in Katowice; his parents and grandparents working at a shoe factory; hiding in an attic with his family during a roundup, but being found by the Germans; being taken to a leather factory in Sosnowiec and placed in a labor camp; his father procuring the family Paraguayan passports in the name Brooks; escaping the camp with his family and going to the Slovak border; going to Žilina, Slovakia, where they stayed with a Jewish family for a week; receiving help from the underground network; traveling by train and foot across the Slovak-Hungarian border to Budapest, Hungary; dying his hair blonde; staying in a Hungarian village until the Germans came in March 1944; being caught while traveling to Bratislava, Slovakia, and then released; going to Bratislava, Slovakia until the Germans arrived; trying to return to Hungary but being caught on the border; being transported to the Sered labor camp in Slovakia; being deported in a cattle car to Auschwitz in November 1944; suffering from scarlet fever and going to the infectious barracks, where he met his uncle and remained until January 5, 1945 when the Germans evacuated everyone from the camp; his mother and grandmother being transported before January to a labor camp; the deaths of his father and grandfather during a death march; the atrocities he witnessed in the camp; being marched out of the camp along with his uncle and others and being left by the SS guards; getting a ride to Krakow, Poland, where his uncle was imprisoned for a year as a collaborator and George was placed in two foster families; catching pneumonia; going to Budapest to find family members and being placed in an orphanage; his mother finding him; his grandmother’s death after she fell while living in the Bergen-Belsen displaced persons (DP) camp; going to a DP camp in western Germany, where they remained for a year; his mother remarrying; being adopted by his stepfather; immigrating with his family to the United States; settling in New Haven, CT; and his life philosophy.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Zimmerman, Mr. George O.
Navazelskis, Ina
interview:  2015 December 11
1 digital file : MPEG-4.
Record last modified: 2022-06-24 20:16:50
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