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Oral history interview with Frank Engelsmann

Oral History | Accession Number: 2018.145.1 | RG Number: RG-50.106.0267

Frank (Franticek) Engelsmann, born on March 1, 1922 in Nové Mesto nad Váhom, Czechoslovakia (now in Slovakia), discusses his childhood; being the youngest of three girls and four boys; his father Samuel, who owned a restaurant, and his mother Gerte, who worked in the kitchen; attending a Jewish elementary school and then a Gymnasium for eight years; interacting with non-Jewish students; enjoying reading and playing tennis; his close family observing Jewish holidays; having a bar mitzvah; not experiencing any antisemitism until his family was forced to close their restaurant; working along with his brothers on a farm to get food; moving in 1942 to Debrecen, Hungary to live with his sister and her husband; earning money by tutoring students; learning Hungarian in two months; pretending to be a university student; staying with the Biro family for several months and using a Hungarian name; being captured in 1944 and put in prison and then sent to Mauthausen, where he worked in the kitchen peeling potatoes; being considered a Hungarian Jew; giving food to other prisoners; his parents and two sisters being sent to a concentration camp; being liberated on May 5, 1945 by American soldiers in tanks; going to Prague, Czech Republic; studying history and philosophy at Charles University (Univerzita Karlova) and earning a doctorate in 1948; marrying Hannah, a Gymnasium teacher, who had survived Theresienstadt with her parents; being a clinical psychologist at the Institute of Bohnice using the Rorschach Test when seeing patients; publishing two books on using statistics in studying mental hygiene; moving in 1967 to Geneva, Switzerland to work for the World Health Organization studying schizophrenia; going to McGill University in Montreal, Canada in 1968 to see patients and to teach; becoming professor emeritus; visiting the US; trying to avoid thinking about the war; feeling that the Germans made a great mistake and suffered for it; and his feeling that mankind is not perfect and his hope that there will be peace in 1000 years.

Interviewee
Frank Engelsmann
Interviewer
Gail Schwartz
Date
2018 April 22  (interview)
Geography
creation : Potomac (Md.)
Language
English
Extent
1 digital file : WAV.