RightsConsent & Release to Video Record and Retain on file
SynopsisEmerich Klein was born in Uzhorod, Czechoslovakia in 1930. His family included his parents and one sister as well as grandparents and many cousins. His father worked as chief mechanic in an electrical plant outside of the city and the family resided on-site. EK describes the family’s Jewish life at his grandparents. He describes attended Jewish school and recalls antisemitic attacks from other non-Jewish students. He recalls the shift in the community when anti-Jewish laws were implemented. He discusses his perspective as a child of antisemitism in the town and increased regulations against Jews. His family would follow the progress of the war by listening to an illegal radio. EK’s father was conscripted into the army but released due to his important job at the electric company. EK recalls meeting a man who had escaped from Poland who told the community what was happening there to the Jews. EK describes the Nazis arriving and the violence he witnessed. EK’s family was the last to move into the ghetto and he describes the living conditions. He describes deportation from the ghetto and the journey by train to Auschwitz. He describes the selection process and being separated from his mother and sister who would perish in the camp. He discusses how he was able to remain with his father and a group of friends to be selected for work in another camp. EK describes the second train journey through Europe to France where they arrived at an iron mine. He recalls interacting with civilian miners and other prisoners of war. He describes building a factory and forced labor. He describes life in the camp and interactions with guards. EK and his father were later moved by train to Germany to build another factory in a salt mine. EK discusses meeting Polish concentration camp prisoners and learning what was happening. He describes the increasingly harsh working conditions and being moved to work in the machine shop of the factory. After an escape, the group of prisoners was caught and executed. EK describes the mood of the guards and prisoners. EK describes a forced march from the camp at the end of the war and how he helped his father survive. The group arrived at Dachau and put on a Red Cross train. However, they were let off the train midway on their journey as the German army was in retreat. EK describes walking to a village and receiving help from the townspeople. His group was caught by a German unit that recognized their prisoner uniforms and told them to march towards the approaching American army. The group separated and EK and his father continued towards the American front, stopping at an abandoned hospital along the way where they obtained German uniforms. He recalls how they were taken prisoner by the American army and couldn’t explain themselves due the language barrier. He describes how they were interrogated and finally communicated how they were Jewish camp prisoners. They were released into the town where they received food and new clothes. EK discusses his feelings upon liberation and learning what happened to Jews. He describes moving from repatriation centres and Displaced Persons camps to get home. He recalls disappointment upon arriving back home and realizing his mother and sister were gone. His father remarried quickly and EK left for Prague then a DP camp in Germany. EK joined a Jewish youth group to immigrate illegally to Palestine, but the group was sent back to Germany. He talks about immigrating to Canada and his difficultly finding employment. He recalls support from the Jewish community in Toronto. EK describes moving to Vancouver and meeting his wife. EK recounts applying for reparations and learning he had a surviving cousin. EK discusses his decision to share his testimony after many years. EK shares stories about his life in Canada. EK shows photographs and discusses them with the videographer.