Czechoslovakian Jewish schoolchild in Czechoslovakia and Hungary, 1939-1944; inmate of Auschwitz II-Birkenau, Auschwitz III-Monowitz and Gleiwitz Subcamp, Auschwitz Concentration Camp, Poland, 5/1944-1/1945 and Buchenwald Concentration Camp, Germany, 2/1945-4/1945
REEL 1 Recollections of background in Czechoslovakia, 1929-1939: family circumstances in Prague; education and health problems; reasons for move to relatives in Carpathian Mountains; character of Jewish and Russian Christian communities. Aspects of Hungarian occupation of Carpathian region in Czechoslovakia, 1939-1940: effects of Hungarian occupation; parents' fate in Prague; food situation; confiscation of Jewish businesses; opinion of Adolf Hitler's attitude towards Jews; restrictions on education; character of religious life. Recollections of period as schoolchild in Budapest, Hungary, 1940-1944: move to Budapest; failure of efforts to emigrate, 1940.
REEL 2 Continues: support from Jewish community; daily life in city; hearing of stories of German anti-Semitic atrocities; reaction of Jewish community to German occupation of Hungary, 3/1944; contrast between Hungarian and German attitudes towards Jews. Recollections of deportation from Budapest, Hungary to Auschwitz II-Birkenau Concentration Camp, Poland, 5/ 1944: character of journey; question of potential fate; arrival and selection; prior knowledge of destination; initial impressions of camp; shaving and issue of uniforms; role of kapos; avoiding classification as child; conditions in camp. Recollections of period as inmate in Auschwitz III-Monowitz Concentration Camp, Poland, 6/1944-8/1944: daily routine; conditions in camp; attempted rape by kapo and consequences.
REEL 3 Continues: efforts to avoid work; selection for engineering training; health situation; medical facilities and fate of chronically sick; lack of hygiene; psychological state of inmates; illustration of guards willingness to shoot inmates; role and nature of kapos; question of recreation; rumours of German defeats; character of political and criminal inmates; relations with other inmates; abandonment of religious dietary laws; loss of faith; mental attitude; reasons for selection for gate duties and consequent transfer to Glewitz Subcamp.
REEL 4 Continues: Recollections of period as inmate at Glewitz Subcamp, Auschwitz Concentraton Camp, Poland, 8/1944-1/1945: daily routine on gate; barrack accommodation; example of cruelty of kapos; hanging of inmate escapees; varying degrees of brutality of different SS camp commandants; work duties; story of being given meal by German Army officer; evacuation of camp, 1/1945. Recollections of journey from Glewitz Subcamp, Auschwitz Concentration Camp, Poland to Buchenwald Concentration Camp, Germany, 1/1945-2/1945: character of death march; execution of inmates falling out; illustration of varying behaviour of German guards; interval at Gross-Rosen Concentration Camp; loading prisoners into cattle trucks; effects of hunger; casualties amongst prisoners.
REEL 5 Continues: relief of guards during march. Recollections of period as inmate in Buchenwald Concentration Camp, Germany, 2/1945-4/1945: conditions and death rate in camp; transfer to main camp on kitchen duties; position of German Communist kapos; efforts to aid friends; avoidance of second death march; staying in camp as skeleton staff after evacuation. Aspects of liberation of Buchenwald Concentration Camp, Germany, 4/1945: arrival of troops of US 89th Infantry Div, 4/4/1945; German resistance in nearby woods; move to SS quarters and bartering with US troops. Aspects of period as displaced person in Czechoslovakia and Germany, 1945: return to Prague, Czechoslovakia to search for family; role as mascot with US Army unit in Germany; second return to Prague, Czechoslovakia; emigration to GB; free travel for former inmates. Question of long term effects of experience and attitude towards Germans. Aspects of liberation of Buchenwald Concentration Camp, Germany, 4/1945: refusal to take reprisals against Germans; capture of SS guards; treatment of former kapos; informer executed by inmates.
One of the most memorable elements of the Holocaust Exhibition is the video testimony by survivors which accompanies visitors along the route. But what happened to the survivors after the Second World War? How did they rebuild their lives in the years that followed their release from Nazi persecution?
As the Allies advanced across Europe at the end of the Second World War, they came across concentration camps filled with sick and starving prisoners. The first major camp to be liberated was Majdanek near Lublin, Poland in July 1944.