By Adam Zaki
Published: November 1st, 2017
As part of the Brooklyn College Listening Project, Brooklyn College junior Elizabeth Jefimova sat down with 93-year old Brooklyn College alumni Seymour Kaplan at his home last semester. Her interview has officially been documented in the archives of the Listening Project.
The BC Listening Project is a campus-wide, interdisciplinary oral history project that focuses to create publicly accessible audio documentations of those living in Brooklyn.
Kaplan graduated Brooklyn College in 1976. Prior to his attendance at Brooklyn College, the Sheepshead Bay native fought in World War II. A machine gunner with the 692 Tank Destroyer Battalion attached to the 42nd Infantry Division, Kaplan served as a Yiddish translator at the end of the war when his unit found themselves at the Dachau concentration camp in Germany.
Kaplan did not open up about his experiences in the war for over 50 years before sitting down with Jefimova, as the interview provides a first-hand experience of events that have major influence on the way the contemporary world is shaped.
Jefimova’s sit-down with Kaplan—which included stories of a knife taken from Adolf Hitler’s residence, camaraderie with soldiers, and violent occurrences during the war—will be one of the last first-hand documentations of a World War II veteran’s experience in battle. With the invasion of Normandy approaching its 74th anniversary, an 18-year-old who stormed the beach and survived the war will be at least 92 years old in 2017.
Because Jefimova aspires to be a military doctor in the future, her interview with Seymour will pay dividends in her career, providing a perspective of a soldier who has lived a long and fulfilling life after the war.
The full interview is available online at the BC Listening project’s website, at http://www.bclisteningproject.org/. Clips of the interview are available on YouTube.