Jewish survivors of the Holocaust
Reifer, Shmuel (4 of 18) The Living Memory of the Jewish Community
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The Living Memory of the Jewish Community
Reifer, Shmuel, 1920- (speaker, male)
Gould, David (speaker, male)
The rise of Hitler and increase in pogroms: Bilicz, Lvov, Lodz, Chela. Political situation in 30s Poland; the rise of the Nazis in Danzig/Gdansk. Recollection of the day of invasion by Nazis; Chrzanow invaded only days after occupation. Earlier reaction to expulsion of Polish Jews from Germany; Poland did not take them in; Jewish communities collected charitable donations for them, but there was no big outcry. Munich agreement interpreted by Polish Jews as betrayal by Chamberlain; discussion of 1917 Balfour Declaration. Mobilisation of civilian population into army to guard against invasion; orthodox community excused. When Chrzanow invaded, all Jews were hiding in synagogues and easily captured. Murder of 132 Jews in local sports centre; made other Jews bury them in mass grave; eventually reburied by community in Chrzanow.
Interviewee's note: Born in Chrzanow, between Krakow and Katowice in Poland. Family history; timber trade; very orthodox Jewish community. Discusses simultaneous rise of Hitler and pogroms in Poland. Hid from Nazis on invasion of Poland; 132 neighbours massacred in local sports field. Lived in Chrzanow 'ghetto' until 1943, until Nazi deportations necessitated escape with father and brother to Sosnowice; father bribed SS guard to get sent as labourers to local farm. Winter 1943, Nazis begin liquidation of small labour camps and farms; sent to IG Farben plant in Blechammer, then railway in Reichenbach, then Krupps factory in Marskadt. 1944, sent to Gorlitz camp and then Zittau; describes life in both camps. 1945, Red Army liberates camp. After liberation found surviving family and stayed in Poland until 1949 and then moved to Switzerland; met wife there, and moved with her to Stamford Hill in London, working in book trade.