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Oral history interview with Esther Peterseil

Oral History | Accession Number: 2011.177.32 | RG Number: RG-50.677.0032

Esther (Himmelfarb) Peterseil, born December 23, 1924 in Będzin, Poland, discusses her Orthodox family; being one of nine children; her grandfather who built the first brewery in Poland; pre-war Będzin, including the coal mines, Christian Poles, Jewish life, public school, and vacations; the Nazi invasion in 1939; the synagogue burning with people in it on September 8, 1939; Jews being shot on the street; the curfew for Jews; Jews having to give up their businesses; the capture of her brother and sister, whom she never saw again; her parents being taken and her father escaping capture; wearing a yellow star armband; negotiating to bring her mother home; hiding with her family for two years in a tunnel that extended to the next door building; being discovered and sent to the town’s ghetto; doing forced sweatshop labor, making Nazi soldier uniforms; the liquidation of the ghetto and being sent with her family to Auschwitz in 1943; the journey in the cattle car; being separated from her 49-year-old mother; staying with her sister; the shaving of their heads; being quarantined in a large room for several days; conditions in the barracks; the early morning selections; meeting her brother at the barbed wire and sharing bread with him; being assaulted for begging for the guards to spare her sister and Auschwitz Commandant Höss allowing her sister to be removed from the list after a display of willpower and bravery from Esther; marching to Birkenau; living in Barrack 27 for two years; being sent on a death march to Ravensbrück; experiencing frostbite; being forced to dig ditches used to hide the dead; life after the war; finding her brother in Będzin; and her sister’s death in a displaced persons camp.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Peterseil, Esther
Lustiger Thaler, Dr. Henri
interview:  2017 June 20
2 digital files : MPEG-4.
Credit Line
This testimony was recorded through a joint project of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Amud Aish Memorial Museum Kleinman Family Holocaust Education Center.
Record last modified: 2022-06-24 20:22:06
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