Jewish Heritage Collection: Oral history interview with Ben Stern

Read along with the transcript in a new window

Jewish Heritage Collection: Oral history interview with Ben Stern
Rosengarten, Dale, 1948-, Grossman, Michael Samuel
Stern, Ben, 1924-1999
Ben Stern, audio interview by Dale Rosengarten and Michael Samuel Grossman, 4 March 1997, Mss 1035-137, Special Collections, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC, USA., Ben Stern, the youngest of Chaim and Hadassah Stern’s four children, was born in Kielce, Poland, in 1924. For a decade beginning in 1930, the family lived in Lodz where, Ben recalls, antisemitism was rampant. The Sterns returned to Kielce in 1940, hoping conditions created in the wake of the German occupation of Poland the year before, would not be felt as harshly in a smaller community. For a time, that was true. Ben comments on Hitler’s strategy and the Germans’ willingness to take part in his plan. His sister Faye and their parents were transported to Treblinka in 1942; he never saw them again. Ben was put to work by the Germans in a number of jobs that required intense physical labor, before being sent to Auschwitz in 1944. He describes how he got to the concentration camp, what happened when he arrived, and the effects the dehumanizing conditions had on the behavior of the inmates. He was transferred to a number of different camps before being liberated by Americans. He was reunited with his sister Sophie after the war. She had been sent to the same camp in Pionki as their brother, Joel, who died in a death march the day before they were liberated. After the war Ben lived in an apartment in Munich, Germany, where he met and married his wife, Jadzia Szklarz, also a survivor. The couple, with their daughter Lilly, immigrated to Columbia, South Carolina, in 1949, sponsored by Ben’s uncle Gabriel Stern, who had left Lodz many years before to escape antisemitism. Ben talks about his first jobs in Columbia, his four children, and how his belief in God changed.
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--Columbia--Interviews, Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Personal narratives, Jewish, World War, 1939-1945--Atrocities, Antisemitism--Poland--History--20th century
Shelving Locator:
MSS 1035-137
S.C. County:
Richland 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.