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Oral history interview with Julian Reuter

Oral History | Accession Number: 2016.409.1 | RG Number: RG-50.106.0259

Julian Reuter (born on December 21, 1926 in Berlin, Germany) discusses his childhood in his religious family; his older brother Wolfgang and older sister Ursula; his father, who was a furrier and died young in a motorcycle accident; singing in his synagogue’s choir; attending public school until he was not permitted and then attending a Jewish school, where the teacher secretly taught him English; having a large extended family; seeing Hitler in his open car and holding his schoolbooks under his coat so as not to salute him; fighting off German boys in yellow shirts; his mother urging him to be careful, knowing he was a marked person when he had to wear a yellow star; walking alone or with one other person so as not to call attention to himself; seeing the destruction from Kristallnacht; trying with his brother to leave Germany in early 1939 with false papers but getting arrested at the Dutch border; being taken alone to the Gestapo Headquarters in Berlin and imprisoned for six months in the cellar in the dark; getting constantly questioned and having no visitors; being transferred to Buchenwald for 3-4 weeks; being given a striped uniform; sleeping on a straw sack on a bunk; thinking not about his family but only how to stay alive; being transferred by cattle car and spending a few weeks in both Dachau and Sachsenhausen; arriving at Auschwitz; being dipped in disinfectant to get rid of lice; being tattooed with the number 107279 on his arm; being a Sonderkommando and after the 5 am Appels (roll calls) carrying bodies from gas chambers to the crematorium and the impact this had on him; concentrating on staying alive; how he and other boys were propositioned by older Kapos for sex in exchange for food; not hearing any talk of resistance as people were too weak; seeing people hanging from the electric wire fences, which gave him more will to survive; having his appendix removed without anesthesia or medication and going back to work after three days; getting 25 lashes after writing his Berlin address down while working at I.G. Farben; carrying 25 feet long rods and getting wounds on his shoulders and on his feet; his work in Monowitz unloading bags filled with 200 pounds of cement; being sent on a death march in January 1945; stopping at different camps and digging mass graves for prisoners who died; being evacuated in cattle cars and getting to Buchenwald after a month; being recognized by an Auschwitz guard who gave him food; being liberated by Patton’s army and taken to an American Red Cross hospital in a coma and weighing 68 pounds; recovering and going to Frankfurt, Germany, and working in Eisenhower’s headquarters as a translator; getting his immigration papers and sailing with soldiers to the United States in June 1945; working for a catering business; getting drafted and being sent to Germany in 1946 as a translator; returning and getting married in 1950 and having three children; working hard for the same caterer so as not to think about his experience; getting reparations; not belonging to survivors' organizations as they only want to talk about atrocities; knowing what it is like to be a refugee; and finding out that his brother died in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Julian Reuter
Gail Schwartz
interview:  2016 December 01
creation: Washington (D.C.)
1 digital file : WAV.
Record last modified: 2020-03-26 09:38:17
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