tv Holocaust Survivor Julius Menn CSPAN August 7, 2016 11:45am-12:50pm EDT
pentium, missions and clean -- increase the bombing rate 100% in june. behind the expanding power was planning. >>/the entire film sunday at 4:00 p.m. eastern time here on c-span3's american history tv. next, holocaust survivor julius menn describes his experiences growing up in poland and palestine to the 1930's and 1940's. 10-year-old julius menn and his family were on extended-stay when the german army invaded in september of 1939. he described how his family narrowly escaped by traveling to force and feels, dodging hunger. after a year in lithuania, the family returned to palestine in october 1940. this event as part of the
holocaust museum's first-person series. it is just over an hour. >> good morning and welcome come to the united states holocaust memorial museum. my name is bill benson, the host of first-person. thank you for joining us today. we are in our 17th year of the first person program. our first person today is mr. julius menn whom we shall meet shortly. this season of first-person is made possible by the generation of the loo's frequent smith foundation with additional funding from the arlene and daniel fisher foundation. first-person is a series of conversations with survivors of the holocaust who share with us their first-hand accounts of their experiences during the holocaust. each of our first-person guests serve as volunteers here at this museum. our program will continue twice-weekly through mid-august. t these himh -- the louisiana' 0-- the museum's website
provides information about each of our desperate the website address is www.ushmm.org. anyone interested in keeping in touch with the museum and its programs can complete the stay connected card you will find in your program or speak with a museum representative at the back of the theater. in doing so, you will receive an electronic copy of julius menn's biography so you can remember and share his testimony after you leave here today. julius will share his first-person account of his experience during the holocaust and a survivor for 45 minutes. if we have time at the end of our program for you to add some questions, we will do so. the life stories of holocaust survivors transcend the decades. what you are about to hear from julius is one individual's account of the holocaust and we have prepared a brief slide presentation to help with his introduction and we begin with his photo of julius menn as a boy. he was born in 1929 in danzig now gdasnk, poland.
in 1935, julius and his parents and his younger sister emigrated to palestine. in the summer of 1938, the family traveled back to poland to visit relatives over the summer. at the end of the summer, the family did not return to palestine. pictured here are julius, his sister and their german governess in warsaw, poland, in 1938. germany invaded poland on september 1, 1939. shortly after the invasion, the menn family fled eastward. on thi map, the error shows the route -- the arrow shows the route they took. they traveled for two weeks and the force of eastern poland eventually making it to a major railroad junction. the arrow and at that location.
from there, a young soviet officer helped the menn family to get a train to vilnius where they lived in a ghetto for a year. in the fall 1940, david managed to get four of 300 transit visas issued by the soviet union. the menn family to the ship to turkey. the men family traveled to odessa and from there took a ship to turkey and eventually to palestine arriving in tel aviv in october of 1940. the men family is pictured here in tel aviv in 1945 and julius is on the right. julius served in the hagana, the jewish defense force in poland -- in palestine, sorry, as a teenager and later as a junior officer. in 1947, julius moved to the united states to attend university. but he returned to israel in 1948 to serve in the army in the war of independence. mere we see julius as an officer in the israeli army. we close with this photo of the dedication of julius' father's shimshan cement factory in hartuve.
speakinging is menachem menn and seated at the table is golda mai elft r, former prime minister of israel n 1950 julius emigrated to the united states and continued his education. julius and his wife, diane sanger, live in havel elft y, massachusetts, having moved there from manufactured in 2011. he earned his ph.d. from the university of california at berkeley and had a long career as a toxicologist, specializing in a number of areas including crop protection and the biochemistry of pesticides. we had an interesting conversation earlier today about the zika virus. after spending 27 years in private industry, he became a associate director of the plant
sciences institute of the united states department of agriculture's research service in beltsville, maryland. he published over 125 scientific papers throughout his career and traveled internationally extensively including making 30 trips to the soviet union as a member of the u.s.a.ussr research team on pefment sides and the environment. julius won numerous research awards during his research career. while julius retired from the usda in the mid 1990's he continued work in his field for 10 years as an international consultant including with the usda's foreign agricultural service. in his capacity he spent considerable time in hanoi,
vietnam, and turkmenistan. together, julius and diane have four children and nine grandchildren. julius volunteers with the museum's archives where he has been actively translating documents for researchers for the past 10 years. he has translated from hebrew, handwritten newspapers from atria where the british imprisoned jewish freedom fighters. and he helped to compile the now completed masef encyclopedia of the holocaust. julius translated and edited memorial books which remember and honor jewish residents of towns and cities who were martyred during the holocaust. he did this for over 120 towns and villages. most of his translation is from hebrew but he also translates polish and yiddish. julius also speaks frequently about his holocaust experience in various locations such as schools and synagogues. now that he is in massachusetts, he is part of the speaker's bureau of the boston branch of this museum. he has lectured at the university of massachusetts. and the pie noor volley area -- pioneer valley area where he now lives he is leading seminars in philosophy. he has also auditing courses at amherst college. julius has public lshed his memoir titled "waves, a memoir" which chronicles his first 21 years from 1929 to 1950. after today's program, julius will be available to sign copies of his book which is also available in the museum bookstore and through amazon and other book outlets.
and with that i'd like to ask you to join me in welcoming our first person, mr. julius menn. [applause] julius, thank you so much for joining us. and your willingness to spend this hour with us which is not nearly enough time. but we'll make the most of it. and i know you're ready to start. so we'll do that. you described to me your very early years as a "wonderful life." tell us about your family and about you in the years before your family moved to palestine. mr. menn: first of all, thank you, bill, for the introduction, which was very good. and i would like to welcome --
especially i would like to talk to high school students. so i see most of you are in high school so welcome. and also, i want to thank the sponsors of this program. this program is very valuable. and i'm really happy to participate in it. i want to say one thing before i start. my story is the story of an accidental survivor of the holocaust and you'll see why. and also you must project yourself -- protect yourself when you're about 10 years old because most of those events happened to me when i was like 10 going on 11. starting at age 9. so anyhow, you asked me about bill: your early years before you moved to palestine. julius: i was as bill mentioned, i was born in danzig. the reason that my father was a soldier in the czarrist army in world war i. he fought on the austrian front. during that, people of the communist revolution, danzig was
declared by the league of nations which was sort of the forerunner of the united nations as a very -- it was a very liberal constitution. i'm jewish. and my parents were jewish. and it was a very good constitution. in fact, it was very similar to the american constitution. it gave -- it emancipated the jewish people. so many of them went to danzig. i lived there until i was 6 years old. and i was born in danzig itself, but we moved to a small town called topot which is -- danzig was a city that also had several villages around it. and it was on the baltic sea. it's opposite sweden. it was wonderful.
i learned to ice skate. and i was pretty good at it when i was a kid. at age 6, my father who believed in establishing a jewish state in israel, he wanted us to move there and we finally moved in 1935 when i was 6 years old. bill: and julius, before you tell us about the move to palestine, your father was a successful businessman. tell us a little bit about him. julius: my father only had a sixth grade education.
but he was a very intelligent man. when we lived in danzig, he started to trade in lumber. a lot of lumber was imported from sweden for paper and that's how he met my grandfather who had a large forest in northeastern poland and a match factory in galistag. he had several daughters. and they got married in the great synagogue. it was in warsaw before the holocaust. and they settled at danzig until 1935. bill: and that's when they emigrated to palestine. julius: that's when they emigrated to palestine. bill: tell us about that. julius: what was interesting about it, i had a german governness.
you saw the picture. she was catholic. and she -- she loved my sister and she loved me. and i loved her very much. she really was like a mother to us. bill: and a governness in today's language would be like a nanny, right? julius: yes. bill: yeah. julius: today, you don't find this kind of devotion of a governness going with us to palestine. and unfortunately, later on, she was -- she returned to germany. she was from berlin. and she was killed in the allied bombings in berlin. and i learned about this after the war. and naturally, i was very, very sad and very upset. bill: but she was there with you in palestine when you first went
there? julius: she lived with us in palestine. bill: your father, what was his business once he got to palestine? julius: well, my father was a zionist in the positive sense. he and his brother now established a cement factory in the foothills of jerusalem. so he was an industrialist. bill: uh-huh. julius: and shall i start now about 1938? bill: not quite yet. so here you are, 6 years old. and now you're going to school. what was school like? julius: this is very important now. i was going to first grade. i didn't know any hebrew. the school was -- all the teaching was in hebrew. and it's very interesting. the teacher was reading to the class robinson caruso which i'm sure most of you had read. and of course it was in hebrew. and i only spoke german. so at the recess, i would come to the teacher and i say, i would tell her, mrs. so-and-so, please tell me the
story in german. because she knew german. and she would. it's a really remarkable story. i must say that life in tel aviv, which was on the mediterranean sea, was wonderful for children. for one thing, you -- after class, in the first and second grade, third grade, i just would go to the beach by myself and swim. you didn't need any -- anybody to protect you. it was -- people didn't lock their houses. there was no crime. i would say it was a wonderful life. bill: so you lived there for several years. and then in 1938 -- julius: 1938. my mother wanted to visit her
mother in poland with their house and my grandfather was already died. but my mother had three sisters one of them drowned. but two sisters who lived there and two brothers. and my father had still property near danzig that he wanted to sell to the government. so reluctantly we were going to go only for the summer. and believe me, i was in third grade. i finished third grade. the prospect of leaving my friends, my culture, my new
culture, my hebrew culture, imagine yourself as americans going let's say to mexico where you have to go and learn a new language. most of the people are catholic and the same thing happened to me in a sense. i went to poland as a 9-year-old. and i had to learn polish because hebrew, of course, was unknown. and that was also the place for the first time where i experienced indirectly discrimination. the poles were about 95% catholic. and the -- there was no separation of religion from the state as we have in the united states. so the first hour in the school was devoted to catholic catechism.
there. your family went there expecting to be there for the summer. so you had originally expected you would be back in tel aviv for the school year. julius: yes. bill: but instead you're continuing in poland. why was that? julius: until the fourth grade, yeah. for many reasons, we didn't go back. and i was enrolled in the polish squool as i was telling you about. the catechism class. so i studied for a year, polish and actually, i'm pretty good
still in polish. after so many years. excuse me. the year went by. and again, another summer. now it's 1939. my grandmother had a summer cottage near the town of vilna. you saw it before the map of poland. maybe we can get the map back. bill: we can't unfortunately. julius: and i remember i went with my grandmother to the summer cottage. and she taught me how to pick mushrooms in the forest and berry. and how to separate the mushrooms from the poisonous to the edible. and this was wonderful. also i would prance around in the forest in a bathing suit and a little knife. and i carved a pine tree that had very nice bark. and i would carve the bark into boats. and it just was -- and i played tarzan. tarzan was very popular in those days. bill: so julius, while you're doing that, the year stretches out. you remain in poland through the summer of 1939. you're still in poland. and war is becoming imminent. do you think your parents at that time by extending their
stay there, do you think they were aware of the threat of naziism by that time? julius: as i mentioned before, my governness went back to germany. and she would write letters to my father. she would say, i'm writing this letter. there's great danger to myself because of the censors, the nazi censors open it, i will be sent to a concentration camp. but she said mr. menn go back because war is coming. and the whole world knew that the war is coming. and yet we stayed. so in the summer of 1939 school was finished. we went, my father went to danzig to sell his business. and my mother and my sister and i went to this resort that was closed to east -- close to east prussia on that map and a piece of germany that was very close to poland. and at the end of the summer,
september 1, the germans invaded poland. we were very close to east prussia. and fortunately we came with friends who had a car and not terribly far and i would estimate about maybe 60 to 100 miles. as soon as we came, my father was in danzig. as soon as we came to the bakenstock the german dive bombers were bombing the population. bill: and you remember that,
don't you? julius: yes, i do. and i was mobilized to help dig ditches so that -- because as the dive bombers would come down, they would machine gun the civilians. and also the windows were taped because we were afraid of gas warfare. my mother went back to warsaw. the germans were surrounding warsaw. but the poles actually fought very valiantly and warsaw was one of the last cities to fall. so she told my father and they came back to bakenstock and how she managed to find my father is a miracle to me.
and my father immediately said we have to leave this town because the germans will invade any day. so he found my -- my late grandfather's old coachman. and the coachman agreed to take us to vilna, to the forest. and this was very unusual. because he didn't want any samoan. people were very -- in those days were very devoted to each other. and because of his devotion to my grandfather he wanted to do something nice for us. so for about two weeks, we piled into this cart that was driven by a horse covered with straw with a tent over it.
it was just like the pioneers 150 years ago going from the east -- bill: like a canastoga wagon. julius: yes. in a wagon. and this is for two weeks, we wandered in the forest of poland. this is really my experience about the mole cost. the germans would dive bomb the refugees. and we would jump into the wheat fields. why the wheat fields, it was late september. or middle september.
it was time to harvest the wheat. but there was nobody to harvest it because the polish farmers were in the army. and so we would jump into the field while the german bombers would dive bomb. and also made this terrible noise to scare the people. and they would machine gun everybody. how we survived in i don't know. but these events lasted several times during the day. and they would last maybe 20 minutes or so and the planes would go away. maybe nelled -- they would re-emerge and the road was strewn with pieces of humans, of bloodshed, animals, cows. dead cows. cars that were burning. it was horrible. i still remember this. war is a terrible thing. i know for americans, it's very difficult to visualize war because the only people who really experienced war in this country were the g.i.'s who fought in wars. but imagine that you lived in the south and saw on television the terrible tornadoes.
you go into -- in the morning to school, you come home. and there's no home. because the tornado destroyed it. this is what war is. war destroys your life. and the war -- and the nazis destroyed the holocaust -- destroyed the jewish people of europe. when i give many talks in massachusetts, and i talk to seventh graders, i always tell them, i say, it's hard to visualize what -- how terrible the holocaust was. but six million people, six million jews were killed by the nazis at concentration camps. the population of massachusetts is about six million. so i said suppose you wake up in the morning, and the whole state, the people are dead. this is what the holocaust is. because everybody was gone.
and it wiped out, in poland, there were over three million jews out of a population of 30 million. and they were invited, they lived there for a thousand years. the polish king invited them to come from germany and settle there. and it -- so one thing that's very important is what did we eat in these two weeks wandering in the forest? well, the first week we ate apples. and it's pretty difficult to eat apples for a week. the consequences are you get terrible diarrhea. and the second week we came to a chicken farmer and my father got lots of eggs. so for about a week we ate raw eggs. raw eggs are rather terrible. dogs like them. but people don't like them. bill: and after two weeks of doing all of that, being strafed routinely, eating the way you described, you made it to
maladeshfo. what happened once you got there? julius: this is a railroad junction town in eastern poland. the driver left us on the railroad tracks or on the platform and said i have to go home. and we just stood there and then irmed this. we heard this rumble. and it became louder and louder. and those were tanks coming. we were convinced that they were german. but they were russian. the red army.
platform and he gave my little sister a chocolate bar. and he started talking to my father, and he said, are you jews? he said yes. and he said, well, i'm russian jewish. and he was third lieutenant. and said where do you want to go? he said, well, we want to go to vilna. and so he said i'll put you on a military train. and he put us on a military train. we came to vilna. we came to my grandmother's house which was locked because she was at bakenstock and very interesting. she wouldn't leave bakenstock because she lived through the first world war in bakenstock.
and she told my father, she said, well, the russians were worse to us in world war i than the germans. the germans were civilized. maybe they will be civilized this time. so she stayed. well, other things happened to her. but anyhow, we couldn't stay in vilna. we went to the country side where my grandmother had a large farm. and we spent there about two weeks. and two weeks, i remember i learned one thing. how to ride a cow without a saddle. that's very difficult i must say. i don't know how many of you have tried to ride a cow.
but it's -- almost impossible. and after two weeks, we returned to vilna. the politics were very complicated. it became lithuania. so i had to go to school and learn lithuanian and lithuanian history. i'll just tell you one thing that lithuanian is very different than polish. it's unlike any other language. and also poland and lithuania at one time were united. but lithuania was once a very great country. and they were basically captured parts of russia to the black sea. also in poland, because there were so many jewish people, there was a dad -- the jews had a -- their own constitution from the polish government which allowed them to keep their own public schools. and the public schools were called -- to translate to english, culture. so in the -- and these schools, the most subjects were taught in hebrew. but you had to study the history of the country and the language. i just remember a few words.
bill: and that's what you were doing in vilna. julius: yes. bill: so our audience understands you're in the ruppings-occupied part of the country. julius: yeah. and i must say we got to vilna, vilna is a very old city. it is a very old city and has a great history. but we had no money. so we ended up living in one room in the jewish ghetto. the ghettos were established in italy and middle ages. jews lived in greater density in such places. it was terrible living in that room. at night, the rats and mice would emerge from the floors. also i had to walk to school about half an hour. and in the winter, it is very cold. as i did not have any warm clothes. my mother had to rub my legs with animal fat because otherwise my legs would freeze off.
i finished the year and i must tell you the jews revolted against the nazis and i would say 99% were killed. later when i was an army officer's training, there was a girl that was a survivor, and when i saw her, this is one of the most moving times of my life. it was amazing. when i still think about it now, i struggle sometimes.
bill: she was in vilnius with you and survived? julius: yes, she was the only one and survived. julius: was your family trying to get you back to palestine at that point? julius: sweden was the so-called neutral zone. we could have flown from sweden to anyplace. we still had a british certificate, much like a visa, that we could go back to palestine. but how? as i said, people were very devoted to each other. my father met in loosely any -- met in lithuania a friend.
he gave him the equivalent of $5,000, which was a lot of money in those days. my father was able to buy a transit visa to the soviet union in 1940. it was extremely difficult. there were only 300 jewish families that were able to go through russia back to palestine. i remember being in moscow 2 days. it was interesting. we stayed in this hotel that was called astoria. before the revolution, the communist revolution, it was a very fancy hotel. but it fell on that times -- fell on bad times.
the chandeliers were beautiful at one time, but were covered with cobwebs. the beautiful curtains were in tatters. and we were the only guests in the dining room. they gave us a menu. there was a very thick menu. put the waiter said, we only have one dish. stew. bill: but he gave you this big menu anyway. julius: yes. my father befriended this waiter and told him we are going to odessa, the russian city on the black sea. the waiter said, well, it will take you about three days, and there will be any food on the train.
would take on the train with you? julius: yeah. i remember it was wintertime. we got on the train and went to russia and moscow and came to odessa. in odessa, the soviet customs took everything away. they took my mother's for coat away. i had stems that my grandmother collected. -- stamps that my grandmother collected. they had receipts that were meaningless, really. through turkey we managed to come back to palestine. palestine was a british colony. remember this was world war ii. we went to tel aviv. bill: and this is october 1940. julius: and german and italian
bombers would bomb the city where they had oil refineries. it was a concentration place for british troops. the cause it was so far for them to fly, many of the planes could not load bombs on that city, so they would unload them on tel aviv. i remember the house we lived in. every night we had to go down to the shelter because of the air raids. after a wild, -- after it while, i didn't want to go down anymore, because i felt i would rather sleep. my parents could not take me down. you sort of lose fear. this was a very good question -- 1/7 grader asked me -- one seventh grader asked me, when you were afraid they were bombing refugees? i thought about it. it's a very good question. students can only be afraid i felt for the instance when the fear happens. bombing. when you are bombed, you are afraid you will be killed. but once the planes left, you forget about it.
the fear stays with adults with anxiety, but children don't have such anxieties by and large if they are well-off children. bill: you mentioned the war is going on. palestine itself is a major's teaching area -- is a major staging area for the allies. the romans urges of that -- there were hundreds of thousands of troops coming into palestine. julius: right. the german army under rommel was advancing into egypt. we were actually prepared that the germans would occupy palestine. so we were going to run away into the mountains. but this never happened because there was a big battle where the germans were defeated. the british and allied forces were aided by american supplies, american troops.
bill: for the jews living there, you began preparing to fight against the germans. julius: oh yes. by escaping into the mountains. bill: plus, resistance groups were forming. julius: yes, i joined a resistance when i was 15 years old. one advantage, especially i can tell this to you since most of you are schoolchildren, is we used to have meetings at night in secret places to learn how to handle various weapons. i was 15 years old. i would come to class and it was a big exam that day. so i would tell the teacher, i did my national duty, i cannot take the exam.
[laughter] so that was one advantage. you got out of taking many exams. bill: what was your father doing during that time? julius: the cement factory didn't work. he managed to work acer a mix factory from a syrian sheet. -- shiek. the sun -- his son was a dancer to morocco. consequently he sold the machinery to my father at a fire sale. so my father was producing cheap china and irrigation pipes. but when the war ended, the british imported much better china. so he had to liquidate it. bill: part-time is getting a
little short. you mentioned you were 15 when he joined in 1944. tell us what you did with them and what that meant to be part of the resistance. julius: since i was only 15, the jobs i had as an undergraduate -- at night we were put -- we would plaster the walls with slogans and placards that said the british would get out, we want our own country. and if you were arrested, the british criminal police would beat you up. and they had a technique of reading you. -- of beating you. they had these short sticks made out of steel covered with
rubber. they would hit you on the kidneys because it would not show any marks, but it would ruin your kidneys. unfortunately i was -- fortunately i was never caught. the other kids who were seniors in school actually handled weapons. as bill mentioned, i was 18, i came by myself to university of california and enrolled there. in the summer of 1948, i volunteered to go back to fight in the war of independence. i may veteran of the war of independence in 1948. i'm quite old. i'm 87 years old. bill: after the war was over any major way to college in california, -- and made your way to college in california.
when you joined the army in israel, you stopped off in new york, and the party was thrown for you. tell us about that. julius: i was invited to this party in the bronx. the host invited a lot of gis from the war. they wanted me to take all of these armaments back with me. i could only take one pistol. bill: all these veterans came with-- julius: machine guns, revolvers. kinds of weapons. i could only take a little. bill: you write about this in your mra lot. -- in your memoir a lot. when you returned to california, that was a difficult choice for you to make. julius: right. at that time i did not particularly like my parents.
they said, california? it's like palestine, and you can always get a job and it's very cheap to go to school. i know right now that school is so expensive. i must tell you, when i went to berkeley as a resident of the state, the only paid $60 a semester. there were two semesters a year. also you could take as many units as he wanted. -- as you wanted. now the university of california, which is a must broke, it costs the most $13,000 for tuition. bill: tell us what writing your memoir has met. -- has meant to you. julius: i wrote it 3-4 years ago. my grandmother -- my
granddaughter who lives in tucson, arizona. she wanted me to write a memoir and her brother. as i sat down to do this, i thought, i could write a book. i wrote about the first 20 years of my life. i just never continued. bill: have you thought about continuing? julius: yeah, i have thought about it. but i am too old. [laughter] bill: so now you just share it with us on stage? julius: yes. bill: one must question before we turn to the audience. two questions come actually.
how did the rest of your family fare once the war was over, and independence was won in israel? julius: my mother lost her two sisters and their husbands in the war. one brother died. one brother survived. they were exiled by the russians. he was sent to one place in the gulags. his wife was sent to another one. she was a schoolteacher in poland before the war. it's very interesting. she was sent to what is now causing stan. -- now kazakhstan. terribly cold in the winter and sheep herders. and the sheep had a disease called scabies. it is a very common itchy disease. my aunt, she remembered something that sulfur cures the
sheep. so she told the farmers, bring me your mattress. and the mattress had sulfur heads, then bring me animal fat. and she made an appointment. she would scrape off the sulfur from the mattress and a coin and. and it worked. so all during the war, these farmers would bring her all kinds of food. so she had plenty of food. and the russian commissar wanted to send her to medical school. my father, when he did better in palestine, he brought her back with her husband and two sons and she became an art teacher in israel. bill: i think we have time from questions for our audience. we will come back to your last
word in a little bit? it's our tradition that first-person that have first person has the last word. so i will turn back to julius and a little bit too close the program. when he does that, i'm going to ask you to stay seated through our q&a period. when julius finishes, joel, our photographer will come up on
stage. i'll ask you all to stand because will get a picture of julie's with you as the background. once that is done, julius bullhead back downstairs. -- julius will head back downstairs. she's going to be signing copies of his memoir, "waves," said we want to make sure people are there for that as well. let's see if we have some russians from our audience. -- some questions from our audience. we have asked you to go to the audience. hopefully we have some brave souls coming to the microphone. try to make your question as brief as you can and i will repeat it to make sure we have all heard it. we have a brave starter here. >> in the introduction, it was said in massachusetts, you had given different seminars on subjects of philosophy.
i was just curious how you got into philosophy. bill: the question noting that you are now teaching philosophy in massachusetts. how did you get into philosophy? julius: well, i never talk of philosophy in college because i'm a scientist. but i was always interested in it because what philosophy is is the art of intelligent discussion. so i was running seminars on 18th and 19th century western philosophers. and i learned a lot. unfortunately the difficulties, i cannot remember the names of all the philosophers. [laughter] bill: thank you for the question. we have somebody lined up behind you. [laughter] maybe you can put that on one step down. there you go. >> there we go. when you were still young in poland, did you know people
going to the concentration camps? did you know there were going to be concentration camps? i know the germans were trying to persecute you because you ran, obviously. but i was just wondering if you knew there were going to be camps. bill: the question, did you know people that went into concentration camps, or did you know there were going to be camps? julius: yes. already in 1940, survivors escaped from poland to tell the british prime minister churchill about the concentration camps. the germans decided to establish extermination camps at a conference in berlin held in early 1940 to eliminate the jews as an ethnic group.
bill: we have another intrepid person coming down the aisle. >> being as young as you were, did you really know what was going to happen next? in terms of what was going on with the war? like what he said about the concentration camps. did you know they were going to come in, being as young as you are? did you know what to expect? i have you got notes from your governess. were you overall confused? bill: let me make sure i have this right.
momentary. you cannot anticipate abstract dangers. bill: okay, thank you. i'm going to ask something that you told me about. at the end of the war, you were living in exhibits -- living in a kibbutz. in the summer of 1945, you are out any yield when somebody heard on the news that we had dropped the atomic bomb at hiroshima. tell us about that recollection. julius: it was about 10:00 in the morning. i was in the northern part of israel-palestine. in the field we were clearing for canada rock -- clearing volcanic rock so the first time they could plant tomatoes. and indeed those tomatoes were wonderful. can somebody came and said the americans dropped an atomic bomb on hiroshima and over 100,000 people were killed. i could not comprehend that at age 10 that there was such a weapon. even today it is hard to apprehend. -- hard to comprehend. must remember during president eisenhower, over 50-60 years ago, kids had to learn -- each
school had to have a shelter. and children had to learn that if there was an air attack, they had to lie under the tables. fortunately this never came to pass. bill: one more question and we will wrap up the program. sir? >> you certainly experienced young jack -- challenges as a young person. what was your attitude is a senior in high school, for transitioning? i'm sure many of us have experienced certain difficulties, but maybe not to the extent you have. what can you say your attitude was? bill: as a high school senior,
say, having been through what you'd been through, what was your attitude in terms of transitioning from a child to young adult? julius: it's a very good question. unfortunately i'm 87 now. it's hard to remember what it was like to be 19 or 20. but as i said before, when you are very young, you are very elastic and plastic. so you can adapt, you forgot that things -- bad things and concentrate on the good. bill: thanks very much. we're going to close our program now. after julius finishes, you'll will come up on the stage --
joel will come up on the stage. we will get julius to sign copies of his book. julius: i was asked to make some concluding comments. i will tell you something that i said before in massachusetts, there are over 6 million people. kids asked me, what was the holocaust like? i would say, imagine you get up in the morning and all the people of the state are dead. and this is very important. what is also important is that we should not forget that people can do these geo-things to each other. -- do bestial things to each other. darfur in sudan, there was another holocaust. and in africa, there are many holocaust going on.
that you're not as well public -- they are not as well publicized as the holocaust that happened to the jews. but this was the first time in history that a whole people of ethnic origin were exterminated. and they were exterminated in a terrible waste -- in terrible ways. human life was not considered human. the nazis considered jews as less than animals. i just want you to remember something to make sure that we never have a holocaust again. [applause]
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