Oral History

Bart Stern describes torture of prisoners during Hanukkah and a subsequent act of resistance to celebrate Hanukkah

Following the German occupation of Hungary in March 1944, Bart was forced into a ghetto established in his home town. From May to July 1944, the Germans deported Jews from Hungary to the Auschwitz killing center in occupied Poland. Bart was deported by cattle car to Auschwitz. At Auschwitz, he was selected to perform forced labor, drilling and digging in a coal mine. As Soviet forces advanced toward the Auschwitz camp in January 1945, the Germans forced most of the prisoners on a death march out of the camp. Along with a number of ill prisoners who were in the camp infirmary, Bart was one of the few inmates who remained in the camp at the time of liberation.


So the Germans made a Hanukkah celebration: on the poles of the barracks, the outside poles, they hung up the prisoners who were chosen to be one of the ten, of the tens, on their feet, head down. We had to pour oil on them, and they had a bonfire, and we had to sing Christmas songs. "Heilige Nacht" ["Silent Night"], I mean, we, they, we had to sing the songs while our brothers, our fathers, our, our cousins were burning. That same night, which we had prepared before, a little bit of oil was sneaked from here, a little bit of oil from there, and of rags made out, cut--forgive me, I'm completely confused--uh, knots made out of it. And we were in small groups, with lookout posts, hundreds gathering to say the prayers and the blessing of Hanukkah, of the miracle of Hanukkah. We really did not give up, I mean, give up. Future, there was none. But we didn't give up.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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