David P. Boder Interviews Nathan Finkel; September 24, 1946; Munich, Germany



At the beginning of the war, Nathan Finkel was living in Rovno, which became part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic as a result of the 1939 nonaggression agreement between Germany and the Soviet Union. However, Germany failed to uphold the treaty, and invading the Soviet Union in June 1941 and capturing Rovno soon thereafter. In the interview, Finkel briefly describes the mass killings of Jews that took place in November of 1941, in which at least seventeen thousand Jews were taken into the nearby forest and shot, which he attributes to native Ukrainians rather than German soldiers.

To escape the killings, Finkel traveled to western Poland, eventually ending up in the Sosnowiec Ghetto. From there, he was taken to the Gross-Rosen concentration camp. When Gross-Rosen was evacuated in March 1945 to avoid the advancing Soviet troops, Finkel was forced to endure a death march, in which prisoners who were unable to walk any further were shot and left by the side of the road. He eventually ended up at Buchenwald, and was liberated when American forces entered the camp on April 11, 1945.

At the time of the interview, the twenty-six year old Finkel was studying architecture at the UNRRA University which had been established at the Deutches Museum in Munich, Germany. When asked by Dr. Boder if there is anything he would like to say to the American Jewish community, he pleads for support to help establish connections between American and European Jewish students, and more school supplies.

Boder did not transcribe this interview after his return to America. He may have simply run out of funds and time, or perhaps the short duration of the interview (only sixteen minutes) may have been a factor. Unfortunately, the only existing copy of the recording suffers from static, uneven volume levels and other problems, so the recent transcription (and resulting translation) contains many unintelligible passages.

—Eben E. English