Jewish Heritage Collection: Oral history interview with Abraham Stern

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Jewish Heritage Collection: Oral history interview with Abraham Stern
Buxton, Robert
Stern, Abraham, 1929-
Abraham Stern, audio interview by Robert Buxton, 11 April 1999, Mss 1035-211, Special Collections, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC, USA., Abraham “Abe” Stern was ten years old in 1939 when the Germans invaded Poland. At the time his father owned a textile factory in Lodz and the family was well-off, but antisemitism, promoted by the government and the Catholic Church, was commonplace. Shortly after the German occupation, the Stern family was forced to move to the ghetto in Lodz, where they lived until 1944, when they were transported to Auschwitz. Abe describes the systematic approach to genocide practiced by the Germans, which began in the ghetto, included forced labor, and ended in death for many who never believed it would come to that. He recalls the degrading conditions in Auschwitz and the high death rate in the labor camp in Ahlem, Germany, where he was housed while working in Hannover. After liberation by the Americans, Abe and some buddies made their way to Bergen-Belsen in search of surviving family members. He recounts what they saw when they arrived. Abe caught up with his three sisters in Poland, and they returned with him to Marburg, Germany, where he worked in a kitchen for the American army while waiting to obtain permission to come to the United States. Abe lived in New York for a year before traveling to California, where a man associated with the Workman’s Circle introduced him to someone who gave him a job. A year or so later, in 1948, he joined the United States Air Force, which ultimately brought him to Sumter, South Carolina, where he met and married his wife, Rhea, and where they raised their three children. Abe discusses how he copes with his memories of the Holocaust, how he is bewildered by those who deny that it occurred, and his feelings about providing reparations for the victims.
Jewish Heritage Collection Oral Histories
Contributing Institution:
College of Charleston Libraries
Media Type:
Oral Histories
Personal or Corporate Subject:
Auschwitz (Concentration camp)
Topical Subject:
Jews--South Carolina--Sumter--Interviews, Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Personal narratives, Jewish, World War, 1939-1945--Atrocities, Antisemitism--Poland--History--20th century, Holocaust denial, Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Reparations
Shelving Locator:
MSS 1935-211
S.C. County:
Sumter County (S.C.)
Internet Media Type:
audio/mpeg, application/pdf
Digitization Specifications:
Mp3 derivative audio created with Audacity software. Archival masters are wav files.
Copyright Status Statement:
Digital resource copyright 2014, College of Charleston. All rights reserved. For more information contact Special Collections, Addlestone Library, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC 29424.