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Isak Borenstein

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by

Elizabeth Caboy

on 24 April 2013

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Transcript of Isak Borenstein

Interview with Isak Borenstein with Madison, Madison and Elizabeth Q: Where are you originally from? A: Radom, Poland. Q: At the beginning of the war, what precautions did you take? A: When Hitler first invaded Poland, I fled to Russia. Shortly after I got a job as a carpenter, Hitler invaded Russia. Then I joined the Russian army. Q: What happened when you joined the Russian army? A: In our first battle, we were captured before we could defend ourselves and we were lead to a prisoner of war camp. I am sorry that I didn't get the chance to fight. Q: What happened after you were captured? A: I changed my name from Borenstein to Broniewski as to not be identified as a Jewish person. Before we were taken to the prisoner of war camp I managed to escape. Q: How did you manage to get away from the German soldiers before arriving at the camp? A: While we were marching, a Russian woman took me aside and hid me. She took care of me and took me to a different town. Q: What did you do once you got to the new town? A: I got a job at a hospital near by to earn bread and soup. I also joined the partisans, which was a guerrilla force operated in enemy occupied territory. I was arrested in the forest and taken to the prison in Dnepropetrovsk. Q: What happened at the jail? A: Somebody identified me as a Jew and I was taken down to a dark room about 6 feet wide and 25 feet long. I remained in the death chamber for 10 days with only one brick taken out for air. I was tortured was given cold showers and was beaten with leather straps until my skin turned the color of wood. I was lucky enough to make it out of there alive. Q: Where did you go after they let you out of the death chamber? A: I went back up to the jail where I met Ira Pogorelskaja and in love with her. She was a 19 year old blonde girl and she was very beautiful. I tried to find her after the war only to find out that she was never heard from again. Q: After the jail, what happened to you? A: I was put into a labor camp. The Russian army was coming near us to help so the German officers put us on a train. We were taken to Auschwitz, but there was no room for us so they took us to another camp. At Mauthausen, there was a checkpoint. You either went to work, to the ovens, or to the hospital if you were moderately sick. I was lucky enough to end up in the hospital Q: How did you escape Mauthausen? A: While I was in the hospital a Polish man recognized that I was a Jew, and he wanted to help me because he knew that I wouldn't survive in the hospital. He sent me to work in a factory that was inside of a mountain, which then exploded. I was then sent to various factories to work at, ending with a coal factory. Q: Where did you go after you worked in the coal factory? A: During the last days of the war before the American army came in, we worked on a barge. The guards then attempted to return us to the same came, but were stopped by an American soldier. I said to myself that it was time to go home. Q: Did you make it home safely? A: No, on my way home I was forced to enlist in the Russian army Q: How long were you in the Russian army? A: 14 months Q: What happened when you got out? A: I went and surprised my brother, the only surviving member of my family at the hospital. He was a broken man, it was hard. I did not recognized him. Q: Did you stay in Germany after the war? A: We lived in Germany for a few years, where I met my wife, another survivor from my home town, Radom. My wife, brother and I came to New Orleans in 1951 where we started a business. Sometimes I try to go back to my past and it's unbelievable for me. Sometimes I think I'm just dreaming.
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