Oral History Interview with Helmut Frank

Helmut Frank, born April 15, 1912 in Wiesbaden, Germany, discusses his early interest in Judaism; his pre-war Jewish life including religious education, relations with Gentiles, and the sporadic antisemitism; his education at the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums in Berlin, Germany from 1931 to 1937; studying at Berlin University and earning his Ph.D. from the University of Bonn in 1935; his impression of Leo Baeck and his role in the Reichsvertretung; why many Jews still felt they could survive in Germany; being ordained in 1937 and appointed as a rabbi in Worms, Germany; the history of the Worms synagogue; witnessing Kristallnacht on November 9, 1938, which included the burning of his synagogue, damage to his apartment, and a lack of reaction by the fire department; being arrested along with other Jews and being forced to clean the debris in the streets then transported to Buchenwald; life in the camp, including the brutality, the organization of camp life, the lack of medical treatment, the effects of incarceration on prisoners physical and mental health, and religious observance by the inmates; how the Nazis warned released prisoners never to talk about Buchenwald; working in a labor squad and being released after his parents got him a visa for China; returning to Worms, where he opened a House of Prayer and a school with permission from the German authorities; the extent of the damage in Worms and the continued persecution of the Jewish community; leaving for the United States in August 1939; the immigration process; and the postwar conditions in Worms and the restoration of the Worms synagogue in 1961.

Date: 02/19/1982
Interviewer: Josey G. Fisher
Interviewee: Helmut Frank
Language: English
Subject: Concentration camp inmates--Medical care.
Concentration camp inmates--Religious life.
Concentration camps--Psychological aspects.
Forced labor.
Holocaust survivors.
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Germany--Personal narratives.
Jews--Legal status, laws, etc.--Germany.
Kristallnacht, 1938.
Synagogues--Destruction and pillage.
World War, 1939-1945--Conscript labor.
World War, 1939-1945--Deportations from Germany.
Men--Personal narratives.
Location: Wiesbaden, Germany
Berlin, Germany
Worms, Germany
Buchenwald concentration camp
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