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Salvator Moshe. Salvator Moshe.
Salvator Moshe

Name: Salvator Moshe (1915 – 1993)

Birth Place: Salonika, Greece

Arrived in Wisconsin: 1949, Milwaukee

I was jealous when somebody else can die and I can't die.

Salvator Moshe


Salvator Moshe was born in Salonika, Greece, on September 10, 1915. His family traced its roots back to the Spanish Inquisition, when Greece opened its borders to Jewish exiles. Salvator graduated from high school in 1932. He worked in France for four years and returned home in 1936.

The German army occupied Salonika in 1940. Jewish residents lived in relative safety until deportations began early in 1943. Salvator's entire family was transported to Auschwitz, where all but he and his brother-in-law perished.

In August 1943, Salvator and his brother-in-law joined a transport of Greek Jews sent to clear debris from the destroyed Warsaw Ghetto. After laboring for nearly a year, they were force-marched to Dachau, and then to a forced labor camp in a neighboring forest. As the war reached its last days, Nazis transported the prisoners by train for eventual massacre in the Austrian Tirol, but they were liberated en route by the U.S. Army near Seeshaupt, Germany.

Salvator and his brother-in-law ended up in a displaced persons camp at Feldafing, Germany, and soon settled in Weilheim. In 1948, Salvator's brother-in-law immigrated to Israel. The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) arranged for Salvator to come to the United States in April 1949. After a short stay in New York, he was sent to Milwaukee where, through efforts of the Jewish Vocational Service, he was hired by the Greenbaum Tannery. For the next 30 years, he was a tannery worker and retired in 1980. Salvator married Milwaukee native Thelma Seiden in March 1950. They raised three children. Salvator died in 1993.

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 Salvator's testimony and view transcript

Tape 1, Side 1
  • Salvator's family in Salonika, Greece
  • Jewish history in Greece
  • Life under Turkish rule

Download Audio (MP3, 27 minutes, 24.7 MB)

View Transcript Page (PDF, 526 KB)

Tape 1, Side 2
  • Jewish life in Salonika during his childhood
  • Family religious traditions
  • Zionist organizations
  • Anti-Semitism common in Salonika

Download Audio (MP3, 27 minutes, 24.3 MB)

View Transcript Page (PDF, 526 KB)

Tape 2, Side 1
  • Salvator's four years in Marseille
  • The outbreak of war
  • Salvator's return to Salonika to help defend his homeland

Download Audio (MP3, 27 minutes, 23.8 MB)

View Transcript Page (PDF, 526 KB)

Tape 2, Side 2
  • Salonika under German occupation, 1940-1943
  • Creation of a ghetto
  • Deportation to and first impressions of Auschwitz

Download Audio (MP3, 28 minutes, 25.3 MB)

View Transcript Page (PDF, 526 KB)

Tape 3, Side 1
  • Salvator's arrival at Auschwitz
  • Auschwitz: Labor, beatings, starvation, and suicides
  • Salvator learns about crematoria

Download Audio (MP3, 25 minutes, 22.7 MB)

View Transcript Page (PDF, 526 KB)

Tape 3, Side 2
  • Labor and black market at Auschwitz
  • Why resistance seemed futile
  • Transported to forced labor in Warsaw
  • Clearing debris in the destroyed Warsaw Ghetto, 1943

Download Audio (MP3, 27 minutes, 23.7 MB)

View Transcript Page (PDF, 526 KB)

Tape 4, Side 1 (no Side 2)
  • Clearing debris in the destroyed Warsaw Ghetto, 1943
  • Labor and punishments at Warsaw
  • Death march to Dachau in the summer of 1944

Download Audio (MP3, 23 minutes, 21.1 MB)

View Transcript Page (PDF, 526 KB)

Tape 5, Side 1
  • Life and death at Dachau
  • Escape from the death camp train
  • Liberation by U.S. soldiers
  • Life in refugee camps

Download Audio (MP3, 25 minutes, 22.6 MB)

View Transcript Page (PDF, 526 KB)

Tape 5, Side 2
  • Attempts to find family members
  • Postwar life in Germany
  • Immigration to the U.S. in April 1949
  • First jobs in Milwaukee

Download Audio (MP3, 27 minutes, 24.5 MB)

View Transcript Page (PDF, 526 KB)

Tape 6, Side 1
  • Marriage and family life
  • Acts of kindness
  • Prejudice and anti-Semitism in Milwaukee

Download Audio (MP3, 27 minutes, 24.9 MB)

View Transcript Page (PDF, 526 KB)

Tape 6, Side 2
  • Milwaukee's Jewish community
  • Religion, politics and culture in the U.S.
  • Salvator's closing reflections on his experience as a survivor

Download Audio (MP3, 27 minutes, 24.2 MB)

View Transcript Page (PDF, 526 KB)

About the Interview Process

  • The interview was conducted by archivist Sara Leuchter three evenings at Salvator's home on November 11, 1980, and January 22 and February 2, 1981. The first and final sessions lasted two hours each. The second session was terminated after 90 minutes at Salvator's request because the conversation was particularly distressing.

    Salvator was among the relatively few Greek Jews to survive the Nazi onslaught. He was also one of very few Jews allowed into Warsaw after the destruction of the Ghetto, about which he provides valuable testimony. He spoke openly and honestly about many delicate subjects. Salvator speaks with a thick accent that can be difficult to understand at times.

Audio and Transcript Details

  • Interview Dates: Nov 11, 1980; Jan 22, 1981; Feb 2, 1981
  • Interview Location: Moshe home, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Interviewer: Archivist Sara Leuchter
  • Original Sound Recording Format: 6 qty. 60-minute audio cassette tapes
  • Length of Interviews: 3 interviews, total approximately 5.5 hours
  • Transcript Length: 108 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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