Joe “Julius” Diamond’s Biography
Jules “Joe” Diamond was born in 1929 in Serednic, Eastern Czechoslovakia, where his family had lived for 150-200 years and enjoyed a normal life. His father had a clothing store; he also owned a vineyard and made wine. Joe shows several pictures of his family. His first encounter with anti-semitism was in a Catholic Kindergarten when he was five years old. Subsequently, he attended a regular public school. The local people felt that Hitler could not be bad because “he hates the Jews.” They heard stories about Nazi atrocities but could not believe them. [Germany invaded Czechoslovakia in 1939 when Joe was 10 years old.]
During the war, Hungary occupied their part of the country, Jewish had to give up 50% of their property and later were not allowed to have a job or own any property. Everybody over age three had to wear a yellow arm band with the Star of David. Many people were beaten up, and nobody helped because it was legal. Later, anyone with Jewish blood was taken away on 24-hour notice as a political risk.
People [ Joe and his family in 1944] were taken first by train to a nearby town and after three weeks by cattle train to Birkenau/Auschwitz. On arrival there, his family was split up; his mother and younger brother were immediately taken to the gas chamber, as he found out later. He and a group of young people had to carry bricks for the construction of a new crematorium. The food was very bad, but the sanitary conditions were reasonable at first.
There was a selection by Dr. Mengele, and since he [Joe] was sick, he was assigned to be gassed. A Russian inmate picked him, apparently at random, and helped him hide until the group had been exterminated. When the Russian army approached the camp, the inmates were taken away by foot and by train until they came to Sachsenhausen concentration camp.
After two days, he was taken to Mauthausen and then to Guns Kirchen near Linz, where he finally was liberated by the American Army. He recuperated in a hospital and then was taken by a Russian soldier back to his hometown [Nov. 1945], where he found his father who also had survived.
The people there were sorry that he had survived and he went back West while his father stayed on. He was taken to England by HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) and placed on an agricultural training farm, where he stayed for two years. He shows more photographs.
[Joe and his father were the only Survivors out of 34 family members.]