Opatowski, Herman

Opatowski, Herman

Kielce (Poland), Auschwitz

Opatowski was born in 1912 in Kielce, Poland, a town of about 27,000 Jews. There were nine children in the family; three were older and had married. Opatowski worked in his father’s business, which was a type of government concession. His father was a councilman and very active in the community. The family was unprepared for what came with the Germans.

Opatowski was sent to Auschwitz. He recalls that there were hangings almost every other day. On the in-between days, the Jews had to collect the bodies. Often there were as many as one or two thousand. The hangings were for any kind of offense, and the prisoners had to watch the ceremony. Opatowski remembers when four inmates organized an escape. Three were captured and hanged, the fourth succeeded and was helped by a righteous gentile.

When the Russians were approaching, the prisoners were forced on a death march back to Germany. He survived this ordeal and eventually made it to a displaced persons’ camp. Later, he immigrated to the United States.

Interview Information:
Date: November 2, 1981
Interviewer: Paul Canchester
Format: Audio recording

Date: September 24, 1986
Interviewer: Esther Weine
Format: Video recording