Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Simon Kalmas - May 25, 1982


An interview with Simon Kalmas, a Holocaust survivor, conducted by Arthur Kirsch. Simon Kalmas was born in Drobin, Poland in 1915. As a boy he learned the trade of tinsmithing. After the German invasion of Poland, Simon and the men of his town were taken and held in another city for five days before being returned home and told to move into the Drobin ghetto; later moving to the Neustadt Oberschlesien ghetto. Simon had the chance to escape to Russia but chose to stay with his family in Poland. The family remained together until 1942 when they were deported to Auschwitz. Simon was chosen for work in the coal mines of IG Farben Industry before being selected for his tinsmithing skills to repair the roofs of bombarded barracks from 1944 until 1945. After that, Simon was forced to march to Gleiwitz in a snowstorm to catch a transport train to Buchenwald where he was liberated. Simon moved to Nashville, Tennessee in April 1949 but moved permanently to Detroit in January 1950 because of the racism he saw happening against African Americans in the South.

  1. Introduction
  2. Family
  3. Family II
  4. Religion and Politics
  5. Anti-Semitism
  6. Jewish Work Restrictions
  7. Jewish Work Restrictions II
  8. Education
  9. Plans for Future
  10. Start of War
  11. Being Taken Away by Germans
  12. Being Taken Away by Germans II
  13. Deciding to Stay in Poland
  14. Moving into the Ghetto
  15. Life in the Ghetto
  16. Religion in the Ghetto
  17. Smuggling and Resistance in Ghetto
  18. Life in the Ghetto II
  19. Transport to Auschwitz
  20. Arrival in Auschwitz
  21. Transfer to Coal Mine Sub-camp
  22. Being Made Foreman of Work Group
  23. Importance of Tattooed Numbers in Camp
  24. Finding Old Friends in Camp
  25. Hearing of Jewish Liquidation
  26. Transfer to Buchenwald
  27. Life at Buchenwald
  28. Saving Selves in Camp
  29. Liberation from Buchenwald
  30. Sanitary Conditions
  31. Life at Coal Mine Camp
  32. Medical Care in Camp
  33. Finding Strength to Live
  34. Finding Strength to Live II
  35. After Liberation
  36. Writing to Immigrate to United States
  37. Permission Granted to Move to United States
  38. Disliking Living in the Southern United States
  39. Moving to Detroit
  40. Feelings Toward Living in United States
  41. Sharing Story
  42. Tricks of Survival in Camp
  43. Health Effects from Camp
  44. Vowing to Not Return to Poland
  45. Condition of Hometown after the War
  46. Not Letting Past Interfere with Life Now
  47. Being a U.S. Citizen
  48. Thoughts on American Politics
  49. Conclusion

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