Jewish survivors of the Holocaust
Reifer, Shmuel (3 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)
Description of synagogues and religious observance in Chrzanow; description of average day in Yeshiva. Father read local Yiddish newspaper, but family horizons were narrow. Compares Jewish community of Chrzanow to that of Krakow, where Jews were more "assimilated", but more likely to be active Zionists with wider horizons. Describes wishful thinking of Polish Jews when Nazis threatened invasion. Three anecdotes about people from his youth: 1) Reb Jankele - his teacher between 10 and 15, a "great man", part of the first round-up of 3,000 Jews for deportation for Auschwitz; 2) a poor neighbourhood shoemaker; 3) Reb Yitzhak Alder Korngold, another of his teachers. Describes education, and his ambitious attitude in school; wanted to be a businessman in order have financial independence that would allow him to study. Had frugal diet and habits, inspired by his mother and the simple way his family celebrated festivals.
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.