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Oral history interview with Joseph Weismann

Oral History | Accession Number: 2016.87.1 | RG Number: RG-50.923.0001

Joseph Weismann discusses his childhood in Paris, France in the 18th arrondissement; his father, who was a tailor of Russian origin; his mother and two sisters, Rachel and Charlotte; attending shabbat service; his father's awareness of the rise of Nazism in Germany; reading German news in Paris; leaving Paris during the 1940 exodus; his father’s enlistment as non-French citizen; fleeing with his mother and two sisters to Longué-Jumelles, where they worked in a jam-making factory; returning to Paris three months later; the requirement to wear and to purchase a Star of David with textile rations; his introduction to the rabbi to begin his bar mitzvah preparation; experiencing constant hunger because his family had no money for black market food purchases; the roundup of Jews on July 16, 1942; being with his family and other Jews on a bus traveling through various neighborhoods as the roundup progressed; arriving in the Vel d'Hiv to deteriorating conditions, including loud cries and screams and a constant odor because of the extreme July heat; not having food for four days; the differences between the portrayal of his story in film and in fact (he is the inspiration for the film "La Rafle"); being transferred on the fourth day and the horrible conditions in cattle car; arriving in Beaune-Ia-Rolande internment camp and being separated from his mother and sisters; remaining in the camp for two weeks; his plan to escape with his friend, Joseph Kaganovsky (his name was shortened to Joseph Kogan upon his immigration to the United States), and their initial try and failure; their decision to try again at noon when prisoners lined up for the one meal of the day; their first hours of escape; finding a place to sleep, being turned away at each house; receiving assistance from two policemen; being taken in by a family in Sarthe, France from 1942 to 1943; conditions after the war; spending time in OSE-run (OEuvre de secours aux enfants) establishments, orphanages, and Rothschild facilities established for displaced children; learning later that his eldest sister was deported with his parents; his decision to stay in France and not go to Israel; hiding his past until he met Simone Veil, who told him it was his duty to share his Holocaust story; and his many discussions with children in France and elsewhere on the Holocaust.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Joseph Weismann
Paul Kutner
interview:  2014 June 23
1 digital file : MPEG-4.
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Paul Kutner
Record last modified: 2020-07-28 15:09:08
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