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Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives

DATE:                       UNKNOWN

Transcript (PDF)

Abe Besser was born in Krzepice, Poland. He had three brothers and four sisters and was the youngest of the seven children. His father, Wolf Hersh Besser, owned a sheet metal shop and the family enjoyed a comfortable life. When the Germans invaded Poland in September 1939, they fled in the chaos during the aerial bombing. As the Germans soon occupied the entire area, they returned to the town.

Jews were soon pressed into forced labor. When Abe's sister was selected for forced labor, he volunteered to go in her place. He was sent to Niederkirchen, where he worked on the German autobahn (highway) system. In 1943, he was sent to a sub-camp of Gross-Rosen called Markstadt. From Markstadt he was sent to another sub-camp called Funfteichen. In both camps, he worked constructing buildings for the armaments industry for Kruppe Werke. In late 1944, Abe was evacuated from Funfteichen and sent to Gross-Rosen. There, Abe witnessed thousands of prisoners dying every day from starvation and disease.

After a few weeks, the Germans sent the prisoners of Gross-Rosen on a death march deep into Bavaria (southern Germany). After a few months, the German guards fled ahead of the American Army. After liberation, Abe spent six months recuperating before settling in Weiden, Germany. There he discovered that his four sisters and one aunt were still alive, although no one else in his family had survived. Abe stayed in Weiden until 1949 when he left for the United States on the USS General Samuel Sturgess. Three of Abe’s sisters also immigrated to the United States. Abe settled in Atlanta, Georgia, where he worked for Rosenthal Metal Company. He started his own construction business in 1953 and became an American citizen in 1955.

Scope of Interview

Abe introduces his family and the town he grew up in. He describes the impact of the German invasion on his family. He recounts how he volunteered for forced labor and the four camps he was sent to. Abe details the atrocities he witnessed. He relays the loss of his brothers, father, and extended family. Abe outlines his evacuation on a death march, liberation, and recuperation. He explains how he reunited with his sisters. Abee reflects on his arrival in the United States and becoming a citizen. Finally, he shares what he hopes will be the legacy of his story. 

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