Oral History

Beno Helmer describes conditions in the Lodz ghetto

As a young man, Beno used his foreign language skills to land small movie roles. He and his family were deported to the Lodz ghetto, where they struggled daily to find food. In the underground, Beno became an expert at derailing trains. The family was sent to Auschwitz and was separated. All but Beno and one sister, whom he found after the war, died. Beno survived a series of camps and later helped to track war criminals.


Critical Thinking Questions

How do oral histories differ from other primary sources such as artifacts, documents, and photographs? What can we learn from different types of primary sources?

What other source materials might be helpful to provide more historical context for this eyewitness testimony? What aspects of the history might these other source materials help reveal?

How can personal testimonies and oral histories provide insights into the impacts of racism, antisemitism, and ideology?

Explore the Museum's website and Collections to learn more about the history of the Lodz ghetto.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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