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Oral history interview with Arthur Langerman

Oral History | Accession Number: 2017.318.1 | RG Number: RG-50.030.0946

Arthur Langerman, born on August 21, 1942 in Borgherhout, a suburb of Antwerp, Belgium, describes his father Salomon Langerman, who was born in Krakow and had a small business making coats from rabbit skins; his mother Zysla Blajwas, who was born in Warsaw and worked as a milliner; how he does not remember anything from the period of the war and that this has been a cause of great suffering for him; how his mother never spoke about her experiences during the war; his search through the archives at the Kazern Dossin (the internment camp in Mâlines where Jews were imprisoned before they were sent east) and finding “réliques” (official documents) pertaining to his parents’ civil and religious marriage and deportation; going to great efforts to trace his family tree back to the 15th century and connecting with cousins all over the world; how and why his parents’ Polish families ended-up in Belgium, although they seemed headed for the United States; the experiences of his extended family during the war; the arrest of his parents in March 1944, at which time Arthur was one of the 500 or so Belgian Jewish children that the Belgian Queen Elisabeth put under her protection; being sent by the Sicherheitspolizei (SipoSD) to the Pouponière Castro, a nursery for infants, in the Etterbeek section of Brussels; being sent to several children’s homes and then, to live with several families (he has no memory of this period); his mother’s surviving deportation to Auschwitz; having no idea who his mother was when they were reunited; how the family apartment had been ransacked and not a single possession was left; his mother having no means to care for her son, and sending him to live in Charleroi with a family which had kept his cousin during the war; his mother marrying Mr. Kornblum and having a son named Frank in 1947; Mr. Kornblum’s death and his mother marrying to Mr. Mendel Krymolowski, who sold stockings at outdoor markets for a living; his mother’s third child, a girl who was 14 years younger than Arthur; being sent to a Jewish religious school right down the street, where the teachers were harsh; being sent to another school a bit further away; having to study in Flemish, which he did not know; suffering from antisemitic remarks from Belgian children; being an excellent student; his mother’s decision that he should begin earning a living at age 15; going with several friends to learn the art of splitting or cleaving diamonds in an “atelier de clivage”; working for a cousin for almost a decade; his current work running a business specializing in colored diamonds; how in 1961, the Eichmann trial was a turning-point in his life and all of a sudden, he started hearing and reading about what had happened in Europe during the war; becoming fascinated with the sources of antisemitism and starting to collect antisemitic pamphlets, posters, postcards, and anything else that came his way that he could afford; his large collection of antisemitic propaganda, which is still growing; his talent for languages (he speaks about 11 languages); and his work translating short stories by the his author Sholem Aleichem into French and has several other works in Yiddish.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Langerman, Arthur
Frankston, Peggy
interview:  2017 June 19
creation: Uccle (Belgium)
2 digital files : WAV.
Record last modified: 2022-06-24 20:16:57
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