Move the mouse pointer over a red word in the main text, to view the glossary entry for this word.

Julius Paltiel

width: 340px; height: 226px; preview="/files/733/flash_preview/019_Julius_Paltiel.flv.jpg"; src="/files/733/original/019_Julius_Paltiel.flv"

00:00:00 Background

00:04:19 Falstad concentration camp

00:08:56 Deportation/selection

00:11:11 Daily life and survival in the Buna/Monowitz concentration camp

00:33:04 Buchenwald concentration camp/liberation

00:45:02 Postwar period

“It’s always cold, summer and winter both. I’m freezing all the time. […] I work outdoors. It’s summer now. I don’t feel either the sun or any heat, even when the sun’s burning down from a clear sky.”[1]


Julius Paltiel, the second son of the businessman Salomon Paltiel and his wife, Kaja, was born in Trondheim, Norway, in 1924. He had a happy childhood, characterized by ski touring and hiking in the surrounding countryside. After his father’s death in 1935, his older brother, Idar, attended a commercial high school. The plan was for Julius to learn the tailor’s trade, so that the two brothers could run a factory together. The Wehrmacht’s invasion in April 1940 made it impossible for Julius to continue his schooling. Eventually, on October 6, 1942, the 18-year-old Julius was arrested and, along with 80 other Jewish men, taken to the Falstad prison camp.


The Norwegian Jews were treated extremely harshly in this camp; they had to do forced labor in a stone quarry, and several died. In late October, the surviving prisoners, along with the Jewish women and children of Trondheim, were transported by train to Oslo, and Julius was reunited with his mother. Julius Paltiel was suffering from rheumatism and gout, but on February 24, 1943, he was transported aboard the Gotenland to Stettin and then, by way of Berlin, to Auschwitz. Upon arrival, his mother was forced onto a truck; he never saw her again: Only 27 Norwegian Jewish males in his transport survived this first selection and were taken to the Buna/Monowitz concentration camp. In his first assignment as part of the “cement detachment,” Julius had to carry bags of cement. His rheumatism worsened, and in the prisoner infirmary the SS physician Dr. Mengele performed medical experiments on him. A fellow inmate, Arthur Posnanski, removed his name several times from the list of those who were to be gassed, and thus saved his life. Julius Paltiel was pronounced healthy and released from the prisoner infirmary. He volunteered to work as an electrician, and until January 18, 1945, he maintained the master file in the electrical equipment storage area. On the death march, he eventually reached the Buchenwald concentration camp, where he was freed in April by the U.S. Army. Together with the other five surviving Norwegian Jewish men, he made his way through Denmark back to Norway; there he was faced with ruin. Slowly he rebuilt his father’s business. Idar Paltiel had been gassed because of an injured foot; Julius had never seen him at Buna/Monowitz. 


Julius Paltiel married and had two children. Twenty-five years later, Julius made his first trip back to Auschwitz. After that, he visited schools all over Norway to talk with the students, to “warn against hatred.” In collaboration with Vera Komissar, he published his memoirs in 1995, titled På tross av alt (In spite of everything). Julius Paltiel died on March 7, 2008, in Trondheim.

(SP; transl. KL)


Julius Paltiel, oral history interview [Norw.], June 7–8, 2007. Archive of the Fritz Bauer Institute, Norbert Wollheim Memorial.



Komissar, Vera: På Tross av Alt. Julius Paltiel – norsk Jøde i Auschwitz [1995]. Trondheim: Communicatio, 2004.

[1] Vera Komissar: På Tross av Alt. Julius Paltiel – norsk Jøde i Auschwitz [1995] (Trondheim: Communicatio, 2004), p. 74–75.