Oral History

Boleslaw Brodecki describes hangings in a labor camp and their impact on the prisoners

Boleslaw and his older sister were raised in a Jewish section of Warsaw. The Germans attacked Warsaw in September 1939. Boleslaw's father did not want to leave his ill relatives behind, so Boleslaw and his sister escaped on a train heading for the Soviet border. The Germans invaded Soviet territories in 1941, and in 1942 Boleslaw was imprisoned in a forced-labor camp. He was deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto, where he was liberated by Soviet forces in 1945.


When we would go back from work we had to watch hangings before supper. They had two or three sets of wires, electric wires and, and the people to be hanged, they put them between the wires. And they might stay there for three days with no food, urinating on themselves. And they bring them up when, when we come from work. And they put a table and a chair and they hang them and they read some funny sentence and they kick the chair out. And a lot of them would er...actually one was shot before they were, he were hanged, but he started crying, "You murderers. You're going to lose the war. Hitler going to die," and all that. And the guy just went [makes the sound of gun shots] and they hanged him on the top of that. And we just got so cold that it didn't bother anybody anymore. Looking at dead people, looking at people getting hanged, you know...you get so...just like watching a movie and, and you feel like you have to do or how do you react to things, you know. But for some reason you get back to normal. You see somebody hit by a car or something. I think with time you come back to your own self, you know what I mean.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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