Wloszczowa (Poland), Skarzysko, Czestochowa, Buchenwald, Dora, Nordhausen
Kay was born in 1925 in Wloszczowa, Poland. His parents were Orthodox Jews of very moderate means, requiring Kay to leave school early and start work as a young teenager. He was the youngest of nine children.
Kay's village was occupied by German forces shortly after the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, and the mistreatment of the Jewish population started immediately. A ghetto was created in his village in 1940, surrounded by barbed wire. In 1942 Kay was deported to the Skarzysko labor camp to work in an ammunition factory. In 1943 he was shipped to the labor camp Czestochowa where he also worked in a nearby ammunition plant. When this camp was closed in 1944 to avoid falling into the hands of the advancing Russian forces, he was sent to Buchenwald. There Kay was required to carry stones from one location to another and back. He was then sent to the camp at Dora and from there to Nordhausen, where he worked in a weapons factory. To avoid the approaching Allied army, the inmates of Nordhausen were taken on a forced march to an unknown destination. Kay and a friend escaped, hid for a day, and were then liberated by the American 102nd Division on April 11, 1945.
Kay describes the conditions, treatment, and food at the various camps, with special attention to the treatment by Jewish Kapos. He thinks the Jewish Kapos were more cruel than the German guards. He also emphasizes that Polish and ethnic German inmates treated Jewish prisoners extremely harshly. He attributes the death of two of his brothers to Polish citizens.
Following liberation and hospitalization Kay eventually returned to his home town and found out that his entire family had been exterminated, most of them at Treblinka. In view of further pogroms against Jews taking place in Poland, he decided that it was no longer possible for a Jew to live there and he returned to Germany. He married and in 1949 immigrated to the United States.
Kay attributes his survival to being young, healthy, strong, and lucky.
Format: Audio recording
Date: May 10, 1994
Interviewer: Hans R. Weinmann
Length: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Format: Video recording