Czechoslovakian Jewish child inmate of Theresienstadt and Birkenau Familienlager camps, 1942-1944; inmate of Auschwitz, Melk and Ebensee camps, 1944-1945; escaped from Ebensee camp, 4/1945
REEL 1 Recollections of background in Prague, Czechoslovakia, 1930-1939: family circumstances; education. Recollections of German occupation of Czechoslovakia, 1939-1942: emergence of Czech antisemitism; question of effect of persecution on religious beliefs; attitude towards wearing Star of David; missed opportunity of family going to Bogota; story of father's arrest, execution and funeral; move to Kostelec. Various aspects of period as inmate in Theresienstadt, 6/1942- 12/1943: accommodation and reasons for lack of knowledge of experience in camp. Recollections of period as inmate in Birkenau Familienlager and Auschwitz I 1942- 1944: role as messenger for Irma Grese and Josef Kramer; layout of accommodation; reasons for keeping hair; question of culture shock of camp life and adapting to surroundings.
REEL 2 Continues: experience of Familienlager and last sight of mother; character of messenger work; aid given to other inmates through his privileged position; question of guilt for working with Germans; treatment received from Josef Kramer; story of how his affidavit was read out at Nuremberg trials; camp hierarchy; nature of gas chamber and crematoriums; question of adapting to brutality of camp regime; role opening and closing of main Auschwitz gate; contact with Höss and Doctor Josef Mengele; illnesses endured during imprisonment.
REEL 3 Continues: punishment of escapers; suicides; question of childrens' easier adaptation to camp regime than adults; decimation of family during Holocaust; question of lack of knowledge of sexual matters; awareness of progress of war. Aspects of journey from Auschwitz to Mauthausen, 1/1945: conditions on forced march; train journey on coal wagons. Aspects of period as inmate of Mauthausen and Melk, 1945: reception in camp; method of killing new transports in Mauthausen; move to Melk. Recollections of period as inmate of Ebensee, 4/1945-5/1945: witnessing incidents of cannibalism; escape with camp and hiding on farm. Recollections of period as refugee in Austria and GB, 1945-1947: liberation; crossing bombed bridge on route to refugee camp in Linz; reaction to freedom.
REEL 4 Continues: reasons for keeping camp tattoo; mother's situation; reasons for not wishing to return to Czechoslovakia; decision to travel to Belgium with his friend; conditions on journey from Austria to Belgium via Munich; stay in Antwerp; making contact with uncle in GB; arrival in GB, 1/1946; continuing education; formative nature of camp experience. Recollections of visits to Czechoslovakia in 1947 and 1989: six weeks visit, 1947; question of compensation.
REEL 5 Continues: finding picture of himself and mother hidden near his grandmother's house; return to Prague, 1989; visit to family villa, meeting with childhood friend. Reflections on Holocaust experiences: importance of recording experiences; question of how background was ill suited for survival in camps.
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.