Category: Oral History

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  • Gary Bigus describes Berlin during the 1936 Olympics

    Oral History

    Gary (Gerhard) was born in Berlin, Germany, in 1924. His father owned a men’s clothing store. As a child, Gary faced antisemitism from his peers. His family’s store was boycotted several times, and ultimately destroyed in 1938 during Kristallnacht. As the city prepared for tourists to arrive in Berlin for the 1936 Olympics, Gary noticed anti-Jewish signs vanish from storefronts. In 1939, Gary and his parents escaped Germany after securing passage to Shanghai, China. His father died of illness in…

    Gary Bigus describes Berlin during the 1936 Olympics
  • Peter Becker describes indoctrination and being in the Hitler Youth

    Oral History

    Peter was six years old when his mother enrolled him in a special Hitler boarding school for future Nazi Party officials in 1935. He studied traditional academic subjects, but was constantly exposed to Nazi ideas and prepared for a military life. Peter was also a member of the Hitler Youth. He came to believe in Hitler as the savior of Germany. Peter would later describe his indoctrination as a subtle process. It took two years after the war had ended for Peter to come to terms with the atrocities that the…

    Tags: Hitler Youth
    Peter Becker describes indoctrination and being in the Hitler Youth
  • Olympic athlete John Woodruff describes his tactics for winning the 800-meter race

    Oral History

    Olympic athlete John Woodruff describes his tactics for winning the 800-meter race

    Olympic athlete John Woodruff describes his tactics for winning the 800-meter race
  • Olympic athlete John Woodruff describes his experiences of discrimination

    Oral History

    In 1936, John Woodruff was one of 18 African Americans on the US Olympic team competing in Berlin. He won the gold medal for the men's 800-meter race. In this clip from an interview on May 15, 1996, Woodruff describes his personal experiences of racial discrimination during and after the Olympic Games of 1936. 

    Olympic athlete John Woodruff describes his experiences of discrimination
  • Leo Diamantstein describes Nazi marches and the Hitler Youth

    Oral History

    Joseph Leo Diamantstein was born in Heidelberg, Germany, on December 1, 1924, to Jewish parents. He was the youngest of four children. His family experienced antisemitism in Frankfurt, and ultimately decided to leave Germany.  Beginning in 1933, the Hitler Youth and the League of German Girls had an important role to play in the new Nazi regime. Through these organizations, the Nazi regime planned to indoctrinate young people with Nazi ideology. This was part of the process of Nazifying German…

    Leo Diamantstein describes Nazi marches and the Hitler Youth
  • Herbert Oppenheimer describes activities of the Hitler Youth

    Oral History

    Herbert Oppenheimer was born on January 4, 1926, in Berlin, Germany. He lived with foster parents, who were Seventh-Day Adventists. While living with his foster parents, he had to join Hitler Youth along with everyone else in his class at school. During this time, he learned that he was Jewish. The school consequently expelled him from the Hitler Youth. All prospective members of the Hitler Youth had to be "Aryans." He had to leave his foster parents in April 1939, and lived in an orphanage run by the…

    Herbert Oppenheimer describes activities of the Hitler Youth
  • Guy Stern describes losing a friend to membership in the Hitler Youth

    Oral History

    Guy Stern was born on January 14, 1922, in Hildesheim, Germany, into a Jewish family. As a child, he attended a German school, where he had many non-Jewish friends.  Beginning in 1933, the Hitler Youth and the League of German Girls had an important role to play in the new Nazi regime. Through these organizations, the Nazi regime planned to indoctrinate young people with Nazi ideology. This was part of the process of Nazifying German society. The aim of this process was to dismantle existing social…

    Guy Stern describes losing a friend to membership in the Hitler Youth
  • Leon Bass describes his experience as a Black soldier

    Oral History

    Leon Bass was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1925. He joined the US Army in 1943 and served as a member of the all-Black 183rd Engineer Combat Battalion attached to General Patton's Third Army. Leon's unit was involved in the Battle of the Bulge as well as the liberation of Buchenwald. After the war, Leon went on to receive his doctorate, teach, and speak about the Holocaust and racism.  In this interview, Leon describes the his frustration with the discord between the United State's condemnation of Nazi…

    Leon Bass describes his experience as a Black soldier
  • Leon Bass describes his wartime experiences

    Oral History

    Leon Bass was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1925. He joined the US Army in 1943 and served as a member of the all-Black 183rd Engineer Combat Battalion attached to General Patton's Third Army. Leon's unit was involved in the Battle of the Bulge as well as the liberation of Buchenwald. After the war, Leon went on to receive his doctorate, teach, and speak about the Holocaust and racism.  In this interview, Leon describes his first experiences with the realities of war and death. He reflects upon his…

    Leon Bass describes his wartime experiences
  • Leon Bass describes his feelings about joining the US Army

    Oral History

    Leon Bass was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1925. He joined the US Army in 1943 and served as a member of the all-Black 183rd Engineer Combat Battalion attached to General Patton's Third Army. Leon's unit was involved in the Battle of the Bulge as well as the liberation of Buchenwald. After the war, Leon went on to receive his doctorate, teach, and speak about the Holocaust and racism.  In this interview, Leon describes the racism and segregation he faced in the United States during the 1940s and how it…

    Leon Bass describes his feelings about joining the US Army

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