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Oral history interview with Yitzchok Wargon

Oral History | Accession Number: 2011.177.8 | RG Number: RG-50.677.0008

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

Yitzchok Wargon (born August 28, 1922), describes his family, including his two sisters and brother (born 1930 and died 1932); his extended family; life in Radomsko, Poland; being raised and educated in a Hasidic house and community; his cherished memories of the rabbi and seder, including the music; his family receiving a healing miracle from a rabbi in Kamińsk, Poland; the rise of antisemitism; hearing Hitler on the radio; reading of Buchenwald concentration camp in a Jewish paper; the bombing in 1939 and the Nazis entering Radomsko; townspeople fleeing in fear of more bombings; his family re-entering Radomsko's destroyed town center (had been 95 percent Yiddish); how the Wargon house was still standing but became part of the Radomsko ghetto; the marking of Jewish able-bodied men with colored patches and the forced labor they were made to do, including carpentry; overcrowding in the ghetto; the severe beating of his father; how everyone was holding onto the Jewish belief, "Never lose faith"; the breakup of his family when they were deported into jam-packed cattle cars and many others in town were shot; his father's farewell to him (he told Yitzchok that he had served as a son, "not a 100 percent but a 1000 percent"); the deportation of his family to Treblinka and Majdanek concentration camps; doing nine months of forced labor at Skarzysko-Kamienna ammunition factory; life there, including beatings, lice, and starvation; being marched with the other near-dead inmates to a shooting site and escaping over a barbed wire fence into the woods; being captured, but being given a pass; being provided daily soup until the liquidation of the Skarzysko-Kamienna camp; the shootings of many inmates; arriving in Buchenwald and being counted; the Gestapo tricking men by providing bread if they would tell on Skarzysko-Kamienna soldiers; going to Schlieben concentration camp and doing forced labor; his finger being blown off in a bombing and another prisoner (a former surgeon from Warsaw) saving his life; being sent on a death march to Berlin, Germany; how those who fell were shot and only one third of the prisoners survived; liberation; the concerns about emaciated survivors eating too much; the people who helped him recover; bartering with vodka and packs of American cigarettes; staking a claim on housing and being afraid of being shot; being assaulted by an American soldier involved in black market currency trading; how six weeks after liberation, his Jewish Russian soldier friend (Max, who had been guarding Hitler's bunker) sneaked Ytizchok through a small hole into Hitler's bunker; seeing the dining room and crystal ware and getting inebriated drinking Hitler's 90 proof spirit; recovering on Hitler's couch (realizing the irony) and confiscating the silver set with Führer engraving; entering the American zone; working the black market in the DP (displaced persons) camps, (Weiden and Neu Freiman); moving to Hamburg, Germany; receiving HIAS assistance to move to New York, NY in 1949; meeting his wife who also survived the Holocaust; learning trade; being the only one of his extended family to survive the Holocaust; and his closing statement ("We Jewish people cannot give up!"). [Note he shows photographs at the end of the interview.]

Interviewee
Mr. Yitzchok Wargon
Interviewer
Dr. Henri Lustiger Thaler
Date
2013 January 18  (interview)
Language
English
Extent
5 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.
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Record last modified: 2018-04-09 11:38:58
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn90196