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Oral history interview with Yitzchok Wargon

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

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    Oral history interview with Yitzchok Wargon


    Interview Summary
    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.]
    Mr. Yitzchok Wargon
    Dr. Henri Lustiger Thaler
    interview:  2013 January 18
    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.

    Physical Details

    5 digital files : MPEG-4.

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Topical Term
    Antisemitism--Poland. Barter. Black market. Bombing, Aerial--Poland--Radomsko. Concentration camp escapes. Concentration camp inmates--Medical care. Concentration camp inmates--Selection process. Concentration camp inmates. Death march survivors. Death marches. Fingers--Wounds and injuries. Forced labor. Holocaust survivors--Interviews. Holocaust survivors--Marriage. Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Personal narratives. Jewish ghettos--Poland--Radomsko. Jewish refugees. Jews--Music. Jews--Persecutions--Poland. Jews--Poland--Radomsko. Jews--Social life and customs. Judaism--Customs and practices. Lice. Orthodox Judaism. Rabbis--Poland. Refugee camps--Germany. Shooting (Execution) Star of David badges. Starvation. World War, 1939-1945--Concentration camps--Liberation. World War, 1939-1945--Deportations from Poland. Men--Personal narratives.
    Personal Name
    Wargon, Yitzchok.

    Administrative Notes

    The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, in partnership with the Amud Aish Memorial Museum's Kleinman Family Holocaust Education Center, produced the interview with Yitzchok Wargon on May 21, 2014.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this oral history interview has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2023-11-16 09:26:14
    This page:

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