Szymon Binke interview
The University of Michigan-Dearborn Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive
World War TwoWorld War 2World War IIWW2WWIIShoahJewish HolocaustWorld War, (1939-1945)—ChildrenConcentration Camp
An interview with Szymon Binke, a Holocaust survivor, conducted by Dr. Sidney Bolkosky, Professor of History at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Born in Łódź, Poland in 1931, Mr. Binke relates his experiences growing up in Poland before and during the war. According to Mr. Binke, prior to the German invasion of 1939, he and his family experienced very little anti-Semitism by the Polish population and his father, who owned a feed store, worked very closely with many Volksdeutsche (ethnic Germans) living in, Łódź prior to the outbreak of the war. Mr. Binke’s family, consisting of his mother, father, a younger sister and six aunts and uncles remained in Łódź after the German invasion of 1939. Shortly after the invasion, all Jews in Łódź were required to relocate to the Baluty district of the city, which became the Jewish Ghetto. After relocation, twelve members of the Binke family settled in their grandfather’s house which was already located in the Ghetto. Once in the ghetto, Mr. Binke worked at several different jobs including in a metal factory, the Altschuhlager (old shoe factory) and selling candy in the ghetto. After several years of living in the Ghetto, the Binke family was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau ca. 1944. Mr. Binke has no recollection of the round-up or deportation, only that he and his family had hidden from the Germans but were caught. Upon arrival at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Mr. Binke’s mother, aunt, sister and one female cousin were gassed and Mr. Binke along with his father and four uncles were taken to the Zigeunerlager (Gypsy Camp), where Mr. Binke was separated from his father and uncle’s. Mr. Binke was placed in the Kinderblock (Youth Block) across a fence from his father and uncles. To see his remaining family, Mr. Binke jumped the fence separating him from their block and realizing it was too late to return to the Kinderblock, Mr. Binke remained there and was able to be transferred to the Kaufering work camps with his father and uncles several days later. After transfer to the Kaufering forced labor camps, (a series of sub-camps attached to the main camp at Dachau), Mr. Binke and his father remained together, both being transferred from Kaufering to Landshut and then to Mühldorf. In Mühldorf, Mr. Binke worked at a cloister where the resident nuns gave him extra rations and when he later contracted typhus, helped him recover. Mr. Binke and his father were liberated in May 1945, while aboard a train in Seeshaupt, Germany. His father became ill in Bad Tölz and was hospitalized. Mr. Binke eventually continued on to a Displaced Persons Camp in Feldafing, Germany and then to Bremen, where he and his father took a ship to New York City in 1950. From there Mr. Binke and his father moved to Detroit, Michigan.
MetadataShow full item record
Accessibility: If you are unable to use this file in its current format, please select the Contact Us link and we can modify it to make it more accessible to you.