Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Michael Opas - [n.d.]


An interview with Michael Opas, a Holocaust survivor, conducted by Paul H. Draznan. Michael Opas was born in Łódź, Poland in 1910. In his youth, he learned the furrier trade but as an adult he operated his own shoe business. At the start of World War II, Michael, his wife and young son fled to Warsaw where they were imprisoned in the Warsaw ghetto. Michael was sent to Majdanek then to Budzyn, a forced labor camp that repaired airplanes. From there he was sent to various camps like Ostrowiec and Auschwitz-Birkenau before finally being sent to Buchenwald, where he was liberated by the American Army. At liberation Michael was grossly underweight and had to recuperate for two months in a makeshift hospital in Buchenwald until he regained some weight and his health. After that he spent time in the Landsberg DP camp and then moved to the Stuttgart DP camp where he re-married and started a family. Michael, his new wife and one-year-old daughter moved to Detroit in 1949.

  1. Introduction
  2. Family Life
  3. Education
  4. Learning to be a Furrier
  5. Religion
  6. Jewish Community in Łódź
  7. Start of War
  8. Life in Warsaw Ghetto
  9. Work and Religion in the Ghetto
  10. Warsaw Judenrat
  11. Forced Labor at Budzyn
  12. Description of Camp Hospitals and Food
  13. Conditions in Camp
  14. Daily Routine at Camp
  15. Forced Labor at Ostrowiec
  16. Arriving in Auschwitz
  17. Life in Auschwitz
  18. Being Ill
  19. Being Transported to Buchenwald
  20. Arrival at Buchenwald
  21. Work in Buchenwald
  22. Resistance in Buchenwald
  23. Punishments in Camp
  24. Religion in Buchenwald
  25. Differences between the Wehrmacht and the SS
  26. Civilian Involvement in Camps
  27. Finding Brother in Auschwitz
  28. State of Health
  29. Liberation from Buchenwald
  30. Liberation from Buchenwald II
  31. Help from Americans
  32. Recuperation
  33. Dealing with New Appearance
  34. Leaving Buchenwald
  35. Transport to Landsberg DP Camp
  36. Hearing Sister is Alive
  37. Going Back to Poland
  38. Finding Sister
  39. Life of Sister After the War
  40. Going Back to Germany
  41. Life in Stuttgart
  42. Decision to Move to the United States
  43. Traveling to United States
  44. Arriving in Detroit
  45. Assistance from Traveler's Aid
  46. Detroit Jewish Family Services
  47. Staying in a Shelter House
  48. Finding a Place to Live
  49. Learning English
  50. Finding a Job
  51. Opening a Business
  52. Finding a job at General Motors
  53. Health Problems from Camp Life
  54. Going to Israel for Sister's Funeral
  55. Difficulty Sharing Experience with Relatives
  56. Sharing Story with Strangers
  57. Sharing Story with Daughter
  58. Reflection on Experience
  59. Conclusion

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