Oral History Interview with John Sauber

John (formerly György/George) Sauber, was born August 14, 1926 in Budapest, Hungary. His family lived in Rakoskeresztur until 1936 when they moved back to Budapest. After 1942 or 1943 food shortages, persecution of Jews, wearing the yellow star, and deportations started. Non-Jewish Hungarians brought his family some food. His mother’s store was taken over by two Christian “partners”. He attended school with non-Jewish students, had religious instruction and attended the Dohany Temple. He experienced a few instances of discrimination while a student.

In 1944, when he was 17 years old, Mr. Sauber was drafted into a forced labor unit that went to the Russian front. He was wounded and put on a Red Cross train. Because he was Jewish, he received no medical treatment and was transferred to a deportation train for Hungarian Jews. He describes conditions on the train and his arrival and processing at Bergen-Belsen Concentration camp. He talks about conditions at Bergen-Belsen pre and post liberation and his activities in great detail, including removing hair and gold teeth from corpses and how he managed to survive. He witnessed brutal treatment of inmates. The Germans fled just before the camp was liberated by Allied troops. The United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) cared for the survivors.
Mr. Sauber returned to Budapest and was reunited with his father. His mother and sister had been deported and killed. He had gone to medical school in Hungary, resumed his education, then went to a Displaced Persons camp in Germany, run by UNRRA, and to a camp in Bamberg with a group planning to go to Palestine. He emigrated to Saskatoon, Canada with a group of Jewish orphans sponsored by the Canadian Jewish Congress, in January 1946, and was helped by Jewish community. He brought his father and stepmother to Canada. He is still haunted by his experiences and trying to cope with the loss of most of his family. He relates a touching episode when saying Kaddish for his stepmother brought him some peace.

Date: 10/21/1999
Interviewer: Gloria M. Schwartz
Interviewee: John Sauber
Language: English
Subject: Antisemitism--Germany.
Concentration camp inmates--Medical care.
Concentration camp inmates--Selection process.
Holocaust survivors.
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Germany--Personal narratives.
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Psychological aspects.
Jews--Legal status, laws, etc.--Hungary.
Refugee camps--Germany.
Star of David badges.
World War, 1939-1945--Concentration camps--Liberation.
World War, 1939-1945--Conscript labor--Hungary.
World War, 1939-1945--Deportations from Hungary.
World War, 1939-1945--Refugees.
Men--Personal narratives.
Location: Budapest, Hungary
Bergen-Belsen cocentration camp
Bamberg, Germany
Ontario, Canada
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