Oral History Interview with Nathan Form

Nathan Form, born in Kroscienko, Poland February 28, 1922, was educated in Polish and Hebrew schools. Warned by a Polish policeman, his family fled from the Germans but failed September, 1939. He describes surviving during the German occupation, operating a clandestine leather factory, and barely escaping execution by the GESTAPO. He worked as a slave laborer locally, then in a GESTAPO camp near Rabka, Kraków. He describes facilities for German SS and Stormtroopers, and atrocities committed by Ukrainian soldiers.

He describes the killing of a Jewish family by the SS at the Rabka camp in 1942, the bravery of a Jewish girl, and how his testimony in a German court helped convict SS Sturmführer Wilhelm Rosenbaum, after the war. He witnessed mass killings of Jews by German soldiers in Plaszow, after the liquidation of the Kraków Ghetto. He was a prisoner in Gross-Rosen concentration camp in May or June 1943, then in a labor camp in Wüstegiersdorf, Germany, guarded by the Wehrmacht, where he dug bunkers. The camp was closed January 1945. After a forced Death march the prisoners were taken to Camp Ebensee, via Mauthausen, to dig tunnels. Only 150 of the original 3,500 survived. He details brutal conditions, savage beatings, Appells and how he managed to survive while his friend perished. He describes how Germans used various means, including trickery and extermination barracks, just before liberation to kill as many prisoners as possible.
He talks about conditions in the camp pre and post liberation on May 6, 1945 by Eisenhower’s 8th Army. He relates how he got treatment for a friend of his, in a German hospital, helped by a Jewish officer who threatened the German staff. The Red Cross cared for survivors and the Jewish Brigade smuggled Nathan and others to Italy. He was in Santo Deszeria, Italy from 1945 to 1947. He describes his life in both Paris and the United States after his arrival October 29, 1951.
Nathan explains how the Holocaust affected him, why he was reluctant to talk about his suffering even to his children, why he is now willing to do so, and expresses his thanks to the American government.

Date: 04/22/1985
Interviewer: Barbara Spector
Interviewee: Nathan Form
Language: English
Permalink: https://hoha.digitalcollections.gratzcollege.edu/item/oral-history-interview-with-nathan-form/