Interview with Mendal Hoffman

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:27 - Living in Czechoslovakia during early World War II

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Partial Transcript: Maybe around '39? Is that a good place to start for you?

Segment Synopsis: Mendal Hoffman talks about his life as a Jew in Czechoslovakia in the early years of World War II.

Keywords: Brothers and sisters; Carpathian Mountains; Childhood; Czechoslovakia; Family

Subjects: Discrimination.; Grandparents.; Hungarians; Jewish religious education.; Jews--Anecdotes.; Jews--Identity.; Jews.; Religion.; Religious discrimination.

00:06:02 - Living and working in Budapest

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Partial Transcript: Anyway I, uh, rebelled by 1941, I ran away for the final time kind of and I ran to Budapest.

Segment Synopsis: Hoffman talks about living and working in Budapest away from his family. He talks about the state of his family living at home and the beginning of discrimination against the Jews.

Keywords: Bakery employees; Budapest (Hungary); Carpathian Mountains; Civics, Hungarian; Communities; Parents; Soldiers; Ukraine

Subjects: Anecdotes.; Babi Yar Massacre, Ukraine, 1941.; Citizenship.; Death.; Deportation.; Employment.; Factories.; Food.; Hungary.; Hunger.; Massacres--Ukraine.; Stories.; Work camps

GPS: Budapest, Hungary
Map Coordinates: 47.497912,19.040234
00:12:37 - Hungarian Jews

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Partial Transcript: Until 1943, the end of '43, as we know, the Hungarian Jews were still in a cocoon kind of.

Segment Synopsis: Hoffman talks about the beginning of Nazi occupation in his area, and being sent to a concentration camp.

Keywords: Art; Bread; Concentration camp tattoos; Court administration; Fortune; Gas chambers; Hiding places; Jewish Joint Distribution Committee; Luck; Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiter-Partei. Schutzstaffel.; Parole; Star of David badges; Stealing; Weaving

Subjects: Anecdotes.; Auschwitz (Concentration camp); Death.; Family.; Food.; Hungary.; Hunger.; Identification.; Labor.; Stories.; Unskilled labor; Wolfsberg (Concentration camp : Poland)

00:19:45 - Wolfsberg concentration camp

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Partial Transcript: This is now around, uh, October 1944, November 1944, and its--gets there pretty cold in s--this was in the Sudeten really, almost--close to the Sudetenland in the mountains.

Segment Synopsis: Hoffman talks about living in Wolfsberg concentration camp where he made friends with a Kapo for his protection, and how he survived with enough food.

Keywords: Actors; Barracks; Comedy; Fever; Hungary; Liberation--Germany; Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiter-Partei. Schutzstaffel.; Plays; Russians; Snow

Subjects: Concentration camps.; Diseases.; Food.; Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945); Hunger.; Kindness.; Machine guns.; Medicine; Protection; Survival.; Winter.; World War, 1939-1945--Jews.

00:26:43 - Ebensee concentration camp

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Partial Transcript: In the morning they divided us, half of the camp went to Bastogne, Belgium including my cousin.

Segment Synopsis: Hoffman talks about being transferred from Wolfsberg and traveling to Ebensee. He talks about what it was like being forced to work in Ebensee.

Keywords: Barracks; Bombings; Crematoriums; Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiter-Partei. Schutzstaffel.; Prisoners of war; Railroad; Russians; Wagons

Subjects: Austria.; Corpses.; Dead.; Death.; Disease.; Ebensee (Concentration camp); Food.; Hunger.; Labor.; Liberation; Mauthausen (Concentration camp); Survival.

00:35:37 - Leaving Ebensee

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Partial Transcript: But I had enough strength to walk out of the camp, walk out the gate or a side gate.

Segment Synopsis: Hoffman talks about the end of the Ebensee concentration camps and being liberated. He also goes in to more detail about what the camp was like and how it was run.

Keywords: Budapest (Hungary); Catholics; Israel; Jews; Kindness; Laborers; Photographs; Photography; Prisoners of war; Typhoid fever; Work camps

Subjects: Concentration camps.; Family.; Food.; Fortune.; Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945).; Luck.; Nursing.; Parents.; Prisoners.; Religion.

00:41:23 - Auschwitz compared to Wolfsberg

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Partial Transcript: Was there a big difference--when you were in Aushwitz, I know you were only there for three weeks.

Segment Synopsis: Hoffman tells the story of returning home after liberation from the concentration camps, what life was like under Russian rule, and eventually immigrating to America.

Keywords: America; Budapest (Hungary); Czechoslovakia; Emigration and immigration; Family; Food; Hunger; Israel; Jewish ghettos; Labor; Marriage; Police; Russia; Russians; Shock; Siberia, Eastern (Russia); Ukraine; Work

Subjects: Auschwitz (Concentration camp); Concentration camps.; Death.; Deportation.; Ebensee (Concentration camp); Wolfsberg (Concentration camp : Poland)