Jewish survivors of the Holocaust

Reifer, Shmuel (6 of 18) The Living Memory of the Jewish Community

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  • Subjects

    Camp experiences

  • Recording date


  • Is part of (Collection)

    The Living Memory of the Jewish Community

  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home

  • Interviewees

    Reifer, Shmuel, 1920- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Gould, David (speaker, male)

  • Recordist

    Gould, David

  • Abstract

    Father's sawmill 'nationalised' by Nazis; father somewhat protected by his international contacts - received food from his Czech partner Sapieha. Went to family farm in countryside to avoid direct persecution; stayed for nearly a year. 5 November 1940, Jews in district moved to Sosnowiece labour camp, run by Major Linde, who used attack dogs to keep labourers in line. Shmuel and family able to get work in forestry outside of Sosnowiece and therefore escape being entirely ghettoised. Religious life in the ghetto. Desecration of religious texts; harshness of daily life; continued deportations to Sakrau and, increasingly, the Auschwitz camp. May 1941: Nazis take women hostage to force their husbands out of hiding.

  • Description

    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.

  • Related transcripts

    Full transcript of the interview

  • Related links

    Voices of the Holocaust - link to learning materials based on the moving stories of Jewish Holocaust Survivors on the British Library Website

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