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  • Thomas Buergenthal describes the impact of the Nuremberg trials on the development of international law

    Oral History

    Judge Thomas Buergenthal was one of the youngest survivors of the Auschwitz and Sachsenhausen concentration camps. He immigrated to the United States at the age of 17. Judge Buergenthal devoted his life to international and human rights law. He served as chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Committee on Conscience; was named the Lobingier Professor of Comparative Law and Jurisprudence at the George Washington University Law School; and served for a decade as the American judge at…

    Thomas Buergenthal describes the impact of the Nuremberg trials on the development of international law
  • Paul Eggert, Helga Gross, and Dorothea Buck describe forced sterilization

    Oral History

    Paul Eggert was categorized as "feeble-minded." At age 11, he was institutionalized and sterilized without his knowledge. Helga Gross attended a school for the deaf in Hamburg, Germany. She was sterilized in 1939, aged 16. At age 19, Dorothea Buck was diagnosed as schizophrenic and sterilized without her knowledge. [Photo credits: Getty Images, New York City; Yad Vashem, Jerusalem; Max-Planck-Institut für Psychiatrie (Deutsche Forschungsanstalt für Psychiatrie), Historisches Archiv, Bildersammlung GDA,…

    Paul Eggert, Helga Gross, and Dorothea Buck describe forced sterilization
  • Moringen Youth Camp

    Article

    The Moringen camp was one of the so-called youth protection camps that the Nazi regime established for young people who were alleged to have strayed from Nazi norms and ideals.

    Tags: youth camps
  • France

    Article

    Learn about France during the Holocaust and WWII, the liberation of France, postwar trials, and the legacy of Vichy France’s collaboration with Nazi Germany.

    France
  • Gusen

    Article

    Between 1933 and 1945, Nazi Germany and its allies established more than 44,000 camps and other incarceration sites (including ghettos). The perpetrators used these locations for a range of purposes, including forced labor, detention of people deeme...

    Gusen
  • Mlynów: "Life under the German Occupation," According to Yehudit Rudolf

    Article

    Explore firsthand testimony about the occupation of Mlynów, the establishment of the ghetto, resistance activities, and the destruction of the ghetto.

  • The United States: Isolation-Intervention

    Article

    When WWII began, most Americans wanted the US to stay isolated from the war. From December 1941, the majority rallied in support of intervention to defeat the Axis powers.

    The United States: Isolation-Intervention
  • Refugees Today

    Article

    As of mid-2022, there were about 27 million refugees. Learn more about these refugees, the violence they face, and the global impact of the refugee crisis.

  • "St. Louis" arrives in Antwerp

    Film

    The German ship SS "St. Louis" departed from Hamburg for Cuba with almost 1,000 Jewish refugees on board on May 13, 1939. Most of the passengers had Cuban landing certificates. However, the Cuban government invalidated the certificates. When the "St. Louis" reached Havana on May 27, most of its passengers were denied entry. After the United States also refused to accept the refugees, the ship returned to Europe, docking at Antwerp. Britain, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands then agreed to accept the…

    "St. Louis" arrives in Antwerp
  • Mojsze Kisielnicki

    ID Card

    Mojsze, his wife Raizel and their three children lived 35 miles east of Warsaw in the small, predominantly Jewish town of Kaluszyn. Mojsze had gone to Jewish schools and supported Zionist ideals. By the early 1930s, he owned a wholesale grocery store, a restaurant and a gas station, all of which were located on the heavily traveled main road. 1933-39: Mojsze is at the World's Fair in Paris with his sister, Ruchel. She immigrated here in the 1920s with her husband, who owns a successful tailor shop. When…

    Tags: Poland
    Mojsze Kisielnicki
  • Thomas Elek

    ID Card

    Thomas was born to a Jewish family who moved to Paris when he was 6. His father's outspoken criticism of the fascist government and his affiliation with the Hungarian Communist Party led to the family's expulsion from Hungary in 1930. With the help of his father, a professor of modern languages, Thomas quickly learned French and excelled in school. He had a special interest in poetry and music. 1933-39: Thomas's father often argued against fascism, and he was greatly disturbed when Hitler became the…

    Thomas Elek
  • Leon Kusmirek

    ID Card

    Leon was the oldest of two boys born to a Jewish family in Zgierz, a central Polish town in the heart of Poland's textile producing region. The family lived at 15 Konstantynowska Street. Leon's father worked at a textile factory. At age 7, Leon began attending public school in the morning and religious school in the afternoon. 1933-39: On Friday, September 1, 1939, Leon's mother had just returned from the market when the family saw German planes. On Sunday they flew over again, lower, panicking the city.…

    Leon Kusmirek
  • Leo Falkenstein

    ID Card

    One of three children, Leo grew up in the small town of Hochneukirch, 20 miles northwest of Cologne. As an adult, Leo entered his father's cigar manufacturing business, "Isak Falkenstein and Sons." Leo and his wife, Bertha, lived in a house next to Leo's parents. Leo and Bertha had six children whom they raised in the Jewish faith. 1933-39: Leo and Bertha's daughter Johanna has brought her two girls to live with them for a while here in Hochneukirch. Johanna's husband, Carl, has been having trouble…

    Leo Falkenstein
  • Helga Leeser

    ID Card

    The older of two sisters, Helga was raised by prosperous, non-religious Jewish parents in the small Catholic town of Duelmen in western Germany. Her family owned a linen factory. Before marrying Helga's much older father in 1927, her mother had been a Dutch citizen. As a child, Helga looked forward to vacations in the Netherlands with its comparatively relaxed atmosphere. 1933-39: At age 6 Helga began attending a Catholic elementary school. Antisemitism wasn't a problem until the night of November 9, 1938…

    Helga Leeser
  • Moses Rechnitz

    ID Card

    The younger of two children, Moses was born to Jewish parents living in the southwestern Polish town of Bedzin. When he was 7, his family moved to the nearby city of Katowice where his father had a wholesale leather business. The Rechnitzes lived in a three-bedroom, upper-floor apartment on Jordana Street. Moses attended a Polish elementary school and also received religious instruction. 1933-39: In secondary school, Moses was one of the only Jewish pupils. He first encountered antisemitism when a teacher…

    Moses Rechnitz
  • Sarah Rivka Felman

    ID Card

    One of seven children, Sarah was raised in a Yiddish-speaking, religious Jewish home in Sokolow Podlaski, a manufacturing town in central Poland with a large Jewish population of some 5,000. Sarah's parents ran a grain business. In 1930, Sarah began attending public elementary school in Sokolow Podlaski. 1933-39: After graduating from middle school in 1937 at the age of 14, Sarah helped out her now widowed mother in the family's grain business. Two years later, Germany attacked Poland. German aircraft…

    Sarah Rivka Felman
  • Miksa Deutsch

    ID Card

    Miksa was the youngest of four children born to religious Jewish parents. The Deutches lived in the town of Bistrita in Transylvania, a region of Romania that belonged to Hungary until 1918. After 1910, the family lived in nearby Viseu de Sus. In 1922 Miksa moved to Budapest, Hungary, where he and his older brother, Pal, opened a business selling matches. In 1928 Miksa married Kornelia Mahrer. 1933-39: Miksa and Kornelia had three children, whom they raised with a religious education. Miksa and his…

    Miksa Deutsch
  • David J. Selznik

    ID Card

    The village in Lithuania where David grew up was located near the Latvian border. His father was a peddler. At age 6, David was sent to Ukmerge, a town known to Jews by its Russian name, Vilkomir, to study traditional Jewish texts at the rabbinical academy there. Six years later, David was called to return home to head the Selznik family because his father had died. 1933-39: David lost his job in 1933, so he left Lithuania and went to the United States and then Portugal. But in 1936 the Baltic states were…

    Tags: ghettos
    David J. Selznik
  • Welwel Rzondzinski

    ID Card

    One of six children, Welwel was born to Jewish parents living in the predominantly Jewish town of Kaluszyn, 35 miles east of Warsaw. His parents were religious, and they spoke Yiddish at home. Welwel's father was a bookkeeper for a large landowner. After Welwel's father died, his mother ran a newspaper kiosk in Kaluszyn. Welwel married when he was in his twenties and moved with his wife Henia to Warsaw. 1933-39: When war broke out three months ago, many Jews left Warsaw in a mass exodus towards the east.…

    Tags: Warsaw Poland
    Welwel Rzondzinski
  • Ethel Stern

    ID Card

    Ethel was born to a Jewish family living in Warsaw. When she was 9, her family moved to the town of Mogielnica, about 40 miles southwest of Warsaw. Ethel's father spent much of his time studying religious texts. His wife managed the family liquor store. Ethel attended public school during the day and was tutored in religious studies in the evening. 1933-39: Ethel had always wanted to be a teacher. At age 14, after attending religious school in Lodz, she began to teach in the town of Kalisz, where her…

    Ethel Stern
  • Yosel Coller

    ID Card

    One of six children, Yosel was raised in a religious Jewish family in Lodz, an industrial city in western Poland. His father was a businessman. At the age of 6, Yosel began attending a Jewish day school. His two older sisters attended public school in the morning and religious school in the afternoon. Yosel spent much of his free time playing soccer with his brothers. 1933-39: Yosel's family lived in a modest house in the northern section of Lodz. He went to a Jewish day school and had many friends there.…

    Yosel Coller
  • Benjamin Bornstein

    ID Card

    Benjamin and his younger brother Zigmush were born to Jewish parents in the industrial city of Lodz. Lodz was Poland's second biggest city before the war, and one-third of its inhabitants were Jewish. Benjamin's father, Moshe, owned a candle factory, and his mother, Brona, was a nurse. 1933-39: In 1939, as Benjamin began the third grade, the Germans occupied Lodz. Jews were forbidden to ride buses, and were ordered to wear yellow stars. Because the Germans sometimes grabbed Jews off the streets for forced…

    Benjamin Bornstein
  • Herschel Rosenblat

    ID Card

    Herschel was the youngest of three sons born to Yiddish-speaking Jewish parents. When Herschel was a child, his family moved to Radom, an industrial city which had a large Jewish population. By 1930, Herschel had finished his schooling and was helping in his father's shoemaking business. With the help of a friend, he later found a full-time job as a house painter. 1933-39: Herschel's career as a painter was interrupted for two years when he was drafted into the Polish cavalry at the age of 20. When…

    Tags: Poland Slonim
    Herschel Rosenblat
  • Gerda Blachmann

    ID Card

    Gerda was an only child of Jewish parents. They lived in Breslau, a large industrial city on the Oder River. Before World War II, Breslau's Jewish community was the third largest in Germany. Her father worked as a salesman for a large hardware and building materials company. Gerda attended public school until age 9 when she was admitted to a Catholic girls' school. 1933-39: Gerda walked through the city to see the aftermath of a pogrom. The windows of Jewish shops had been shattered. A torched synagogue…

    Tags: refugees
    Gerda Blachmann
  • Ruth (Huppert) Elias

    ID Card

    Ruth grew up in Moravska Ostrava, a city in the region of Moravia with the third-largest Jewish community in Czechoslovakia. When Ruth was a child her parents divorced. She and her sister, Edith, moved in with their paternal grandmother and then with their uncle, but they kept in close contact with their father. Ruth trained to be a pianist and hoped to attend a musical academy in Prague. 1933-39: In March 1939 Bohemia and Moravia were occupied by the Germans and declared a German protectorate. That fall,…

    Ruth (Huppert) Elias

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