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Oral Histories: Wisconsin Survivors of the Holocaust

Henry Golde.
Henry Golde

Name: Henry Golde (1929 – )

Birth Place: Plock, Poland

Arrived in Wisconsin: 1954, Milwaukee

I could sit with you for a month and still wouldn't tell you my whole story.

— Henry Golde

Map of survivor's journey in Europe.

Biography

Henry Golde was born in Plock, Poland, on May 5, 1929, the younger son of a Polish father and a Lithuanian mother. When the Germans occupied Plock in September 1939, Henry's family was ordered into a ten-block area of the city designated as the Jewish ghetto.

The ghetto was liquidated in early 1940. The Golde family was transported to the city of Chmielnik and again forced to live in a ghetto. After six months, 11-year-old Henry was selected for forced labor at the munitions factory at Skarzysko-Kamienna, Poland. His parents and brother were gassed at Treblinka.

In the fall of 1943, the Germans shipped Henry to a slave labor camp at Czestochowa, Poland. After three months, he was deported to Buchenwald. He was there for a brief period before being transferred to a munitions factory at Colditz, Germany. Shortly before the end of the war, the slave laborers at Colditz were force-marched to Theresienstadt in Czecho¬slovakia. The Russian army liberated the city on May 1, 1945.

Henry remained at Theresienstadt with 300 other children until June 1945 when the British government airlifted them to Windermere, England. With the help of Jewish organizations in Britain, the children were housed in hostels and taught technical trades. Henry became a tailor. His wife, whom he married in 1948, was also a tailor.

The Goldes immigrated to the U.S. in 1952. Henry worked as a tailor, cab driver, and salesman in New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio before arriving in Milwaukee in 1954. He held a variety of jobs during the 1960s. In 1972 he bought a tavern in Merrill, Wisconsin and ran it for five years. Henry remained involved with the Merrill community, lectured on the Holocaust, and served on the boards of many local organizations. He moved to Neenah in the 1980s. As of January 2009, Henry was living in Appleton.

Audio and Transcript Information

Below are the highlights of each tape. They do not list all topics discussed. Recordings of only one tape side are marked: (no Side 2). Documents may be printed or downloaded at no cost. See Rights and Permissions


Listen to Henry's testimony and view transcript

Tape 1, Side 1
  • Early childhood in Plock, Poland
  • Family background in Russia
  • Jewish cultural life in Plock
  • Underlying anti-Semitism of Gentiles
Download Audio (MP3, 27 minutes, 12.4 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 471 KB)
Tape 1, Side 2
  • Family's religious life in Plock
  • Increasing anti-Semitism after 1935
  • Henry's secular and religious education
  • Relations between Jews and Gentiles in Plock
Download Audio (MP3, 24 minutes, 11.3 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 471 KB)
Tape 2, Side 1
  • Outbreak of war and Nazi occupation of Plock
  • Persecution of Polish Jews
  • Creation of Plock Ghetto
  • Sneaking out for food
Download Audio (MP3, 27 minutes, 12.4 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 471 KB)
Tape 2, Side 2
  • Liquidation of the Plock Ghetto, 1940
  • Family's deportation to Mlawa and Chmielnik labor camps
  • Murder of parents and only sibling
  • Henry's transport to Skarzysko-Kamienna labor camp
Download Audio (MP3, 26 minutes, 12.1 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 471 KB)
Tape 3, Side 1
  • Brutality at Skarzysko-Kamienna
  • Manufacturing artillery shells
  • Sadism of guards and officials
  • Cruel boss murdered by underground
Download Audio (MP3, 27 minutes, 12.3 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 471 KB)
Tape 3, Side 2
  • Henry hospitalized with typhoid
  • Hiding among corpses to escape being shot
  • Transfer to Czestochowa, Poland, and Buchenwald, 1943
  • Conditions at Buchenwald
Download Audio (MP3, 26 minutes, 12.3 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 471 KB)
Tape 4, Side 1
  • Camp life at Buchenwald and Colditz
  • Death march to Theresienstadt, April 1945
  • Imprisonment in dungeon
  • Rescue by the Russian army
Download Audio (MP3, 27 minutes, 12.3 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 471 KB)
Tape 4, Side 2
  • Fate of his family
  • Transport to England, June 1945
  • Life in Windermere and London
  • Becomes a tailor
Download Audio (MP3, 25 minutes, 11.4 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 471 KB)
Tape 5, Side 1
  • First marriage
  • Immigration to the U.S., fall 1952
  • Moving around the U.S., 1952-1962
  • Move to Milwaukee
Download Audio (MP3, 26 minutes, 12.1 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 471 KB)
Tape 5, Side 2
  • Business ventures in Wisconsin and around the U.S.
  • Operating a tavern in Merrill, Wisconsin, 1972-1977
  • Thoughts on anti-Semitism in the U.S.
  • Second marriage and children
Download Audio (MP3, 26 minutes, 12.0 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 471 KB)
Tape 6, Side 1
  • Henry's children and family life
  • Community work in northern Wisconsin
  • Attitudes toward American culture and politics
  • Lecturing about the Holocaust
Download Audio (MP3, 27 minutes, 12.4 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 471 KB)
Tape 6, Side 2
  • Attitudes toward religion and intermarriage
  • A typical day in his life, 1980
  • Thoughts on being a Jew in northern Wisconsin
  • Anti-Semitism in the U.S.
Download Audio (MP3, 26 minutes, 12.3 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 471 KB)
Tape 7, Side 1 (no Side 2)
  • Thoughts on American politics
  • Feelings toward Germany and Germans
  • Reflections on speaking out about the Holocaust
Download Audio (MP3, 16 minutes, 7.5 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 471 KB)

About the Interview Process

  • The interview was conducted by Sara Leuchter during two sessions at the Golde home in Merrill, Wisconsin, on October 1 and 2, 1980. The first session lasted three and one-half hours and the second, three hours.

    Henry comes across as an extremely pleasant man with a wonderful accent that contains a trace of his years in England.

    The interview is particularly useful for its child's-eye view of the Nazi horrors, though teachers should note that it contains many vivid descriptions of barbaric cruelty, which may not be suitable for younger students.


Audio and Transcript Details

  • Interview Dates: Oct 1, 1980; Oct 2, 1980
  • Interview Location: Golde home, Merrill, Wisconsin
  • Interviewer: Archivist Sara Leuchter
  • Original Sound Recording Format: 7 qty. 60-minute audio cassette tapes
  • Length of Interviews: 2 interviews, total approximately 6.5 hours
  • Transcript Length: 105 pages
  • Rights and Permissions: Any document may be printed or downloaded to a computer or portable device at no cost for nonprofit educational use by teachers, students and researchers. Nothing may be reproduced in any format for commercial purposes without prior permission.
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