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Menachem Limor oral history interview
h [electronic resource] /
interviewed by Michael Hirsh.
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida Tampa Library,
1 sound file (17 min.) :
digital, MPEG4 file +
e 1 transcript (10 p.)
Concentration camp liberators oral history project
This interview was conducted as research for The Liberators: America's Witnesses to the Holocaust / Michael Hirsch (New York: Bantam Books, 2010).
Interview conducted September 21, 2008.
The Liberators: America's Witnesses to the Holocaust (New York: Bantam Books, 2010) and Concentration Camp Liberators Oral History Project, University of South Florida Libraries, 2010 Michael Hirsh.
Transcripts, excerpts, or any component of this interview may be used without the author's express written permission only for educational or research purposes. No portion of the interview audio or text may be broadcast, cablecast, webcast, or distributed without the author's express written permission.
This is an oral history interview with Holocaust survivor Menachem Limor. Limor was born in Czestochowa, Poland, and was imprisoned in the ghetto there in 1941 and forced to work at the HASAG ammunition factory. In January 1945, the day before the Red Army liberated the city, he and the other workers on his shift were taken to Buchenwald. In the camp, he worked in the hospital before liberation, and continued to help there after the Americans arrived; since he spoke a little English, he asked the soldiers for medicine and such, which they gave him. Limor went to Israel after the war, and was one of the first soldiers in the Israeli army. He came to the United States in 1969 because his brother was injured and needed help running his business. His wife, Lea Limor, also speaks in this interview.
HASAG Czestochowianka (Concentration camp)
Buchenwald (Concentration camp)
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)
v Personal narratives.
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)
World War, 1939-1945
World War, 1939-1945
World War, 1939-1945
World War, 1939-1945
Crimes against humanity.
University of South Florida Libraries.
Holocaust & Genocide Studies Center.
University of South Florida.
Special & Digital Collections.
Oral History Program.
Holocaust & genocide studies oral history projects.
Concentration camp liberators oral history project.
y USF ONLINE ACCESS
xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8 transcript segment idx 0 time 00:00:0.0 text Michael Hirsh: So I have your name on tape, its Menachem, M-e-n-a-c-h-e-m. 1 00:00:5.7 Menachem Limor: Thats right. 2 00:00:6.4 MH: Limor, L-i-m-o-r. 3 00:00:7.7 ML: Right. Also, then my last name was Lipshitz. 4 00:00:13.2 MH: Lipshitz, okay. Whats your address right now? 5 00:00:18.1 ML: 6 00:00:19.0 MH: And your phone 7 00:00:19.8 ML: 8 00:00:22.5 MH: And your date of birth. 9 00:00:22.5 ML: November 3, 1930. 10 00:00:25.9 MH: You were in Buchenwald, and you were fourteen years old at the time? 11 00:00:34.0 ML: Yeah, when I was liberated. Yes. 12 00:00:37.4 MH: How long had you been in there? 13 00:00:40.2 ML: About six months or something like this. 14 00:00:46.6 MH: And you had come from where? 15 00:00:49.1 ML: From Poland, from Czstochowa, from HASAG. 16 00:00:55.3 MH: Ive actually been to Czstochowa. Theres a big Catholic church there. 17 00:01:0.3 ML: Yes, Jasna Gra. 18 00:01:2.5 MH: And its rightnot far from Auschwitz. 19 00:01:4.4 ML: Yeah. Well, I was born in Czstochowa. 20 00:01:8.0 MH: Tell me what was happening just before the liberation. 21 00:01:15.1 ML: Well, I was over there in the hospital, but not as aI wasnt sick, but I was working over there because Polish people wanted to help me out: because I was Jewish, and Jews were taken out from the camp before, so they were hiding me in this hospital. And when we heard thatyou know, that the Americans were comingwe went on the roof of the hospital, and then I saw American tanks coming from both sides of the camp. A Jeep with American soldiers came into the camp, and thats the first time I saw an American soldier in my life. 22 00:02:2.6 MH: How did you know the Americans were coming? 23 00:02:5.9 ML: I cant tellthere were rumors, but we saw the Germans were not in their posts, you know, their watch posts, and rumors started to be that they are coming and, you know, everyone expected a good rumor. So, wethats what we did. We went on the roof of the camp and we saw them, and then the rumors spread, and then the Jeep with American soldiers came in, and thats how we were liberated. 24 00:02:41.8 MH: Did you go down and see the soldiers? 25 00:02:43.5 ML: Well, I saw them from far away; they didnt come in exactly where the hospital was. But I saw them from far away, yes. 26 00:02:56.6 MH: But you didnt go down and talk to them. 27 00:03:0.4 ML: Later, not the same day. Later, yes. 28 00:03:4.3 MH: Tell me about that. Youre a fourteen-year-old boy, and these soldiers really arent much older than you. Theyre maybe six or seven years older. 29 00:03:15.2 ML: Yes, right. 30 00:03:16.4 MH: So, what was that like? 31 00:03:17.8 ML: Well, I will tell you. Actually, in the hospital, we didnt have enough supplements for people with some medications and so on, and people in the hospital told me, No, you, as a young guy, go talk to the soldiers and see if you could get something to help people out in the hospital here. And I went and started with my broken EnglishI just spoke a little bit Englishtalked to them, and they gave me, actually, some spirits, you know, that you could disinfect things and so on, and I brought it to the hospital. And I talked with them, and as much as we understood each other. But, you know, they were very friendly, and I was glad to talk to them. 32 00:04:22.1 MH: How long did the Americans stay at the camp, those soldiers? 33 00:04:27.8 ML: Well, it was a few days, until everything was organized. You know, they started to organize people: Polish people be together, and French people together, and Jewish people be together in groups, and if people wanted to move back to their countries, to Poland or wherever they came from. And it took a while; its hard to say exactly how long. 34 00:05:0.4 MH: When did the SS, Nazis leave the camp? How far before the Americans got there? 35 00:05:9.5 ML: Well, to the best of my knowledge, I saw a lot of Germans the day before they left, and there were still some Germans when they come in, because there were even some Germans who wanted to shoot back at American soldiers, and they got caught or killed or whatever. But the last I knew about it was the day before the liberation. 36 00:05:36.3 MH: One of the things you read is that Buchenwald was really liberated by the rebellion of 700 or so inmates there. 37 00:05:48.0 ML: Well, thats true. It was a surprise for me, because I saw next day, I saw the RussianRussian soldiers is what was kept over there, and I knew because there was one in the hospital, too, and he was walking with a rifle. I dont know how he got this rifle, from whom, but there were people. Yeah, I know there was some kind of an underground in Buchenwald, because when we knew that, in the hospital, I know they were bringing in some medications, you know, that the Germans didnt supply, but they wanted some people, certain peopleinmatesto stay alive. They were brought into the camp illegally, but given to those people. So, I know there was an underground. 38 00:06:57.2 And also, we were afraid that maybe the Germans will take everyone out from the camp, and in the hospital, there was a group that say, We wont go. We will run away, and they had even clothes, you know, not inmate clothes, the civilian clothes. And I was lucky to be with them, that they said they would take me with them if we have to go. We didnt leave, but at least I know that they would help me if there was a need to. So, there was an underground, but I was a young boy, so I wasnt that familiar with it, but I know that there was. 39 00:07:42.8 MH: When did you finally leave Buchenwald? 40 00:07:45.2 ML: I left Buchenwald, I think, in June or something. You see, my brother was liberated in Poland, and he came to look for me into Buchenwald, and together with him, I left Buchenwald, and we wanted to leave Europe, so we went towe look for a place that had a port from which wed be able to leave Europe, so we went to Hamburg. 41 00:08:17.9 MH: How did you get to the United States? 42 00:08:22.1 ML: This was already a long time after that. I came to the United States only in 1969. 43 00:08:30.9 MH: Where did you go to from Hamburg? 44 00:08:34.5 ML: To Israel. I was in the Israeli army, one of the first soldiers in the army. I was injured in one of the fights for Jerusalem. And then my brother came to the United States before me, and then he got injured in a car accident, and he needed some help with his business, so he asked me to come over, and I came over in sixty-nine . 45 00:09:10.9 MH: What business were you in? 46 00:09:13.2 ML: Iron business. 47 00:09:15.3 MH: What kind of business? 48 00:09:16.5 ML: Iron business. 49 00:09:18.8 MH: Oh, iron. 50 00:09:19.4 ML: Yeah, he had a company called Artistic Ironworks. 51 00:09:22.5 MH: You stayed in that until you retired? 52 00:09:27.1 ML: Yeah, in Nashville, Tennessee. 53 00:09:31.0 MH: In Nashville. Were you married in Israel or married here? 54 00:09:35.1 ML: Yes, I married in Israel, and I had three children. I came with all my family. 55 00:09:42.8 MH: What do you think accounts for the fact that you survived being picked up in Poland and survived Buchenwald? 56 00:09:55.3 ML: Well, I think mostly it was luck. I think mostly it was luck, and then, you know, I did the right things without knowing the right things. Its still hard to say. 57 00:10:12.8 Lea Limor: Im his wife, and I went on the phone in case I need to help him, because I know his story already better than he. 58 00:10:19.4 MH: (laughs) What is your name? 59 00:10:22.7 ML: My name is Lea. 60 00:10:24.1 MH: Leah, okay. So, when you said you did the right things even though you didnt know they were the right things, what does that mean? 61 00:10:31.2 ML: Well, what that means, say, I was once hidden in a place, and the Germans, still in Poland, and the Germans found the place. And theywe were over there about thirty people, women and children, and the Germans said, Everybody out, and everybody started to go out, and I decided not to go out. I was over there with a cousin of mine. 62 00:11:5.8 LL: Two cousins. 63 00:11:6.9 ML: And I stood next to theit was like a small opening on the bottom of the floor that people had to crawl out. I was standing next to that place, and the Germans put insaid, Everybody out, and nobody answer, and they left. All the people just went out didnt survive. I did survive. Its not because I was smarter. 64 00:11:33.4 LL: They all got out and they all were shot. 65 00:11:36.1 ML: It was just, you know, a decision I had to do, and I did it, and it was the right decision. 66 00:11:43.2 MH: At that moment, yes. They could have easily dropped a grenade into the hole, too. 67 00:11:48.9 ML: Â Yeah, sure! Or if somebody, if one of them would crawl inside; but Germans were too lazy to crawl inside to check it out, and this was my luck. God helped me or I dont know what. 68 00:12:1.9 MH: How did you finally get arrested? 69 00:12:3.6 ML: Well, finally 70 00:12:7.0 LL: Not arrested. 71 00:12:8.0 ML: I was the ghetto in Poland, and to stay alive, we had to go to work in the ammunition factory in Poland called HASAG. So, I was in working in that ammunition factory, and the day before the liberation of Czstochowa, they took allI was on the night shift, they took all the night shift and send out to Buchenwald. Thats how I went to Buchenwald. And you know, we didnt get arrested. We were just taken. 72 00:12:43.8 MH: Have you met many of the American liberators since you came to the United States? 73 00:12:52.8 ML: No, because I dont 74 00:12:55.5 LL: Only oneone liberator that lives not far from Nashville. 75 00:13:0.5 ML: Because also, you know, there were some people spread all over the United States; maybe some died already. 76 00:13:10.9 LL: But there is one liberator that liberated Buchenwald that lives not far from me. 77 00:13:16.0 ML: Yeah he knows about it. 78 00:13:16.5 MH: Thats Harry Snodgrass; I spoke with him.Â Harry Snodgrass was also interviewed for the Concentration Camp Liberators Oral History Project. The DOI for his interview is C65-00129. The way he described the camp when he said he got there, there was only one American soldier there. And at Buchenwald, there were hundreds of American soldiers on liberation day. 79 00:13:33.8 ML: I really cant give an exact account of it because, as I told you, I was in the hospital, and I didnt go out. They didnt let me go out. First of all, we were afraid to move, because we didnt know whats going on, and you were afraidI was trying not to be close to them at the time, so 80 00:13:56.9 LL: Two days before, they took up a lot of the people for the March of the Death. 81 00:14:4.4 ML: I know that we start to get enough food, because Americans brought us food, and you didnt have to go out every morning where theyd count you and so on. So, it was a different life, no question about that. 82 00:14:26.3 MH: Im trying to figure out if Snodgrass got to the main Buchenwald camp or was it a subcamp where there was only one or two American soldiers there. I was trying to figure out what camp he got to. 83 00:14:39.0 ML: Well, I dont know, but its hard for me to believe theres just one soldier because it was quite a big camp. 84 00:14:45.0 LL: You said you saw two columns of tanks.Â Â Â Â 85 00:14:48.1 ML: Yeah, but where they went, I dont know. 86 00:14:50.5 MH: Im going to guess he was at one of the subcamps, even though he doesnt think so. 87 00:14:55.3 ML: Because this was a big camp. 88 00:15:3.1 MH: There were 30,000 people there. 89 00:15:4.7 ML: Yeah, I was in a barracks, Barracks number 63, but I dont know, maybe 100 or more barracks, and each barracks have probably 500, 600, 800 people in the barracks like this. So, I dont know. 90 00:15:22.4 MH: Was your wife in Buchenwald? 91 00:15:26.8 LL: No, no, no. I was born actually not in Israel, still in Palestine. But I know the story for many times but sometimes I need to remind him some stuff. 92 00:15:39.7 MH: Wives are like that. 93 00:15:41.4 ML: Yeah, shes younger than me. 94 00:15:42.5 LL: Im not so young.Â Â Â Â 95 00:15:44.5 MH: What is your phone number again? 96 00:15:50.8 ML: 97 00:15:51.5 MH: I thank you for talking to me. I appreciate it. 98 00:15:55.0 LL: Youre welcome. Thank you for being interested.Â Â Â Â 99 00:15:57.8 ML: If you write the book, I would be glad to get one. 100 00:16:4.2 MH: I will make sure you get one. 101 00:16:6.9 LL: Because in November, hell be seventy-eight and hes 102 00:16:10.0 ML: I will be seventy-eight, yeah. 103 00:16:12.3 LL: And hes one of the younger people thats still alive.Â Â Â Â 104 00:16:15.6 MH: Im aware of that. LShanah Tovah. Thank you. 105 00:16:20.5 LL: LShanah Tovah. Chag Sameach. 106 00:16:22.5 MH: Chag Sameach to you too. Bye-bye.
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