Independent Film Project of Dr. Henry Oertelt
Dr. Henry Oertelt's was made into a short film. Producer Stephanie Silverman Houser worked tirelessly to raise money and awareness for the film. You can learn much more about the project including following Stephanie's and Henry's blog updates. This is KVSC's interview on this important film project.Listen
An Unbroken Chain - Intro
In this amazing true-life account from the Holocaust, young Berlin Jew Henry Oertelt manages to survive the Nazi hate and death machine in wartime Germany. In 18 heart-stopping incidents, Henry manages to evade death time after time. These 18 events are the Unbroken Chain of Henry's survival. A different outcome of any of these links would have resulted in his death. Beginning as a youth in Hitler's Germany, Oertelt relates his tenacious existence and forbidden activities in wartime Berlin, then being swept up by the Gestapo and being sent to five different Nazi concentration camps. Near death from starvation in his fifth concentration camp, Henry is saved by US soldiers liberating Europe in April of 1945.
Over the last 35 years, Henry Oertelt has presented his amazing life story at scores of high schools, colleges and public presentations. At St. Cloud State University's Spring Commencement in 2006, he was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from SCSU. Dr. Henry Oertelt considers this day to be one of the proudest moments in his life.
The recording of Dr. Oertelt reading his book "An Unbroken Chain" occurred over three days in the Multi-Track studios at KVSC 88.1FM at St. Cloud State University in August 2006. His wife Inge was present during each recording session. The total time for all 12 episodes is just over four hours.
An Unbroken Chain - Part One
Henry Oertelt describes the reasons why he chose to share his very personal story—and why he continues to speak publicly about his survival of the Nazi Holocaust. He was inspired by his children and grandchildren among many others to publish the events that saved his life from Hitler’s murderous regime.Listen
An Unbroken Chain - Part Two
The listener is introduced to Henry’s family in Germany and the events that led up to their imprisonment in concentration death camps. Henry describes his teen years and the continual humiliation and intimidation of Jews prior to the start of World War II. You’ll hear about the 1938 Kristallnacht event that furthered Hitler’s attacks on the Jews, slave labor camps, the infamous yellow star and incredible restrictions of daily life placed on Jews.Listen
An Unbroken Chain - Part Three
In this episode, Henry describes working at a weapons factory illegally—nearly starting the factory on fire. You’ll also hear how Henry’s skills as a furniture maker were put to use—but nearly at the expense of being sent to a place called “Auschwitz-Berkinau.”Listen
An Unbroken Chain - Part Four
It’s now 1943, Henry’s mother had been working in a forced labor camp, but she is now imprisoned full-time. There is a terrifying experience with SS Guards hunting down friends while Henry flees and is just feet away from being captured.Listen
An Unbroken Chain - Part Five
SS Nazi Guards break down the door to Henry’s family apartment and tell them to prepare to leave. Henry, his brother Kurt and Kurt’s girlfriend Sonja are sent to Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia. They were processed and sent to live in horrid conditions. Henry describes the meager food offerings and how to try to gain nourishment through other means. The Nazi’s use this camp to spread propaganda to the international community.Listen
An Unbroken Chain - Part Six
Henry describes the devastation of being turned down by the consulate to leave Germany (prior to their imprisonment), but recognizes that the late date (June 1943) for being sent to the death camps helped save his life. Henry and his brother Kurt are sent to Auschwitz in October 1944. The train car ride was indescribably inhumane. Henry and Kurt are tattooed, their names no longer allowed in the records.Listen
An Unbroken Chain - Part Seven
Henry’s ability to work certainly helped save his life. His slight stature and youth also contributed. The brothers are sent to yet another concentration camp, Golleschau. You hear about the value and heartache of just one piece of bread, and Henry’s new job to create a custom desk, under the watchful eye of an SS Guard. Henry begins to have alarming health problems.Listen
An Unbroken Chain - Part Eight
This episode deals with four more links in the events that helped Henry Oertelt survive the Nazi Holocaust. Henry’s optimism and profession as a fine furniture designer helped him survive. He was now sent to another death camp, Flossenburg in Bavaria. The camp was horribly overcrowded and daily beatings of prisoners was the norm. Henry’s brother Kurt is sent to a different camp, which was devastating, but also led to another link that helped him live. He needed medical help.Listen
An Unbroken Chain - Part Nine
Henry puts his life in the hands of an SS Doctor. He describes the harrowing ordeal of surgery—and the conditions of “recovery”. A non-Jewish political prisoner befriends Henry and saves him from another death camp. For the first time they hear the bombings from the front lines. Hope for freedom begins, it’s April 16, 1945.Listen
An Unbroken Chain - Part Ten
This episode is the 18th Link in the Unbroken Chain. The American troops are nearby as heard through machine gun fire and bombs. But on April 20, 1945, the Nazis order all remaining prisoners out of the barracks. Henry was put on a death march with all his fellow inmates. American liberators find those still standing after 3-days of constant marching with no food, water or rest.Listen
An Unbroken Chain - Part Eleven
Henry is liberated and left wondering who is left in his family. There was no mode of transportation available as it nearly all forms were destroyed in the war. He runs into trouble with Soviets on his attempt to return to Berlin—including forced labor again.Listen
An Unbroken Chain - Part Twelve
Finally, Henry is back in Berlin only to discover the family’s apartment has been given to Nazi party loyalists. He reunites with some family and tried to adjust to his freedom. We learn the details of Henry’s emigration to the United States and the splendid news of his wife and new family. Acknowledgements: Henry Oertelt thanks all the people in his life who inspired him to write his story of survival of the Nazi Holocaust.Listen
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