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Oral history interview with Fridolin Wasserkamp

Oral History | Accession Number: 2005.394.56 | RG Number: RG-50.834.0055

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.

Fridolin Wasserkamp, born circa 1928 in Braunschweig, Germany, discusses living with his grandparents; being Deaf; being raised Christian; doing numerous activities, including table tennis, swimming, and hunting; attending a Hitler Youth school for the Deaf; wearing Nazi armband on his uniform; his frequent visits to his parents and brother, who were living in a rural town; enduring bombings, rations, and seeking food on the black market; the plight of the German Deaf; the disappearance of Deaf Jews in his class and hearing he had been sent to a concentration camp but not knowing what that meant; becoming aware at age 13 of the Nazi law concerning the “Law for the Prevention of Offspring with Hereditary Diseases” (Gesetz zur Verhütung erbkranken Nachwuchses); the arrival of a government letter in 1941 that demanded his sterilization and his grandfather responding to it; his Deaf father and brother also being forced to be sterilized; how his family was willing to go to the hospital out of a sense of community and their desires to help the Nazis; the objections from the local bishops; the sterilization procedure, which required him to be in the hospital for two weeks; how many in the Deaf school endured similar experiences but no one talked about it; getting married to a Deaf woman; receiving reparations from the German government; his life at the Hitler Youth school; his pro-Nazi and anti-Nazi teachers; being stopped on the street once by Gestapo and showing a pass verifying his enrollment in a Deaf school; his illegal association with his Polish girlfriend and providing her with black market cigarettes and alcohol while she was in forced labor; their communication through sign language; being prevented from promotion within the Hitler Youth because of his association with his Polish girlfriend; hearing forced laborers share stories of the horrors of camps and how he didn’t believe it; his deep regrets in having believed the Nazi message; his hope that it never happens again; and witnessing the lights of the Russian liberation bombings.

Interviewee
Fridolin Wasserkamp
Date
1989 March 31  (interview)
Extent
3 sound cassettes : analog.
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Ina R. Friedman
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Record last modified: 2018-05-03 09:32:41
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn90182