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Oral history interview with Joseph Fenster

Oral History | Accession Number: 2014.293.1 | RG Number: RG-50.106.0233

Joseph Fenster (né Fensterheim), born in Paris, France June 18, 1932, describes his parents, Charles Fensterheim and Sophie Bachner, both of whom immigrated from Krakow, Poland; his one sister, Charlotte, born April 27, 1940, who now lives in Atlanta, GA; how his family was not at all religious or political; how his mother and father spoke Polish and Yiddish, and his primary language was French; not being aware of antisemitism; the arrest of his father and mother in June 1940, at which point his father was sent to Auschwitz and then to a series of camps under German occupation forces run by the French and eventually died in July 1942; how his mother was rounded up in the Vél d'Hiver and sent to Drancy in July 1942 and was then deported to Auschwitz; being sent to orphanages in Paris; being sent to an abbey in Belleville in Normandy where the Abbot, who was with the French Resistance, baptized him and gave him a predated certificate of baptism; hiding paratroopers in the abbey’s cider vats; hiding in the woods to avoid the bombing; how after the invasion of June 6, 1944 he was sent to an orphanage in Carteret; eventually going to the United States; experiencing many displacements in his life; attending Brown University; spending 20 years in the Air Force; his three children and four grandchildren; having married his wife in 1955 in a church; and feels that his experiences have affected the way he’s raised his kids, making him overprotective and determined to keep them out of harm’s way.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Joseph Fenster
Julie Kopel
interview:  2014 January 14
1 digital file : WAV.
Record last modified: 2020-03-26 09:27:54
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