Niki W. testimony 1985 [video recording]
Date of Recording24 July 1985
Duration1h 59m 8.0s
SynopsisNiki W. was born April 16, 1919 in Kalisz, Poland. He describes his non-Jewish family and their relationship with the large Jewish community. He talks about German Jews coming to Poland and how the local population was unprepared. He describes how, when the war broke out, his family started walking towards Łódź but partisan fighting stopped them. When they returned, Kalisz was under German occupation. He describes the destruction and violence. He recalls selections for forced labour. Niki describes returning to Łódź with another Jewish family while his family moved to Warsaw. He describes his attempt to smuggle a girl out of the Warsaw Ghetto. They were caught outside of the ghetto and Niki describes his arrest and torture. He returned to Warsaw and attempted to make a living. He describes being arrested and interrogated again. He escaped to Konstancin-Jeziorna but was caught and taken to Pawiak prison. He describes the conditions and other prisoners. He describes his transfer by train to Auschwitz. He describes the selection process. He describes being chosen by Josef Mengele to go to the camp hospital because Mengele believed Niki had appendicitis. Niki recalls not being sick at this time but did grow worse from an infection after an experimental surgery. He describes his time working in the Canada barracks. He describes his duties as a member of the orchestra and its function in the camp. He recalls the day when a Jewish girl killed a guard. He recalls when Adolf Eichmann visited the camp. He discusses the role of the sonderkammandos. Niki describes transport to Halberstadt for forced labour building tunnels. He describes the harsh conditions. He describes the evacuation and forced march. He describes his escape with a small group during the march to Berlin. He describes his journey back to Poland including interactions with German civilians and Russian troops. He describes going to London, learning how to cook, and starting his own restaurant. He shares stories about meeting inmates he knew in Auschwitz after the war. He discusses sharing his experiences.
Funding NoteCataloguing and digitization of this testimony was supported by funding from the Government of Canada.