Follow by Email

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Day 153 - I am going to visit Buchenwald very soon!

Possibly my brother will come along as well.

I will post our visit to the site of Buchenwald concentration camp and its environs on this site in the New Year.


Sunday, 11 November 2012

Day 152 - Heard today!

New Readers: Day 1 is an introduction to my Dad's WWII memoir!

I am Louis' daughter, Paula.  I started blogging his memoir in late December 2011.  I recently heard someone say that depending on who you talk to and what nationality and culture they are from -that their WWII stories and perspectives differ quite dramatically. My Dad was Flemish from Belgium! 

Day 1 - Day 130 are his story and I added a mish mash of related things from approximately Day 130 onwards.

I was just going to write -  I hope you enjoy my Dad's story which is similar, I guess, to hearing someone say Happy Remembrance Day,  which just goes to prove that every communication boils down to a matter of a person's unique perspective on life!


Written: November 11, 2012

Today, I attended a, "Remembrance Day" ceremony and later went for something to eat.  While waiting at the front of the restaurant, a young child went up to the "Greeter's post" and the employee said to the child, "Happy Remembrance Day" - haven't heard that one before!!! 

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Day 147- another email sent today no name!


I just received this email - author unknown!!!!!

I have continued to read more of your Dad's memoir on your blog.


I think you should read about how German soldiers were treated by the
Allies after they surrendered to end World War II.


Read this website for a start:
http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v10/v10p161_Brech.html


I wrote about Eisenhower's death camps on my website at
http://www.scrapbookpages.com/EasternGermany/Gotha/index.html


I wrote about how German "war criminals" were imprisoned at Dachau on
this page of my website:
http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScrapbook/NaziPrison.html


The attitude taken by your father in his memoir makes me very angry.  He
was legally a war criminal.  Yet he expected good treatment at the hands
of the enemy when he was captured.  The Germans were legally Prisoners
of War after they surrendered.  But General Eisenhower changed the rules
of the Geneva Convention so that the Germans could be legally mistreated
in his death camps.


You need to look at World War II from both sides, not just from the side
of an illegal combatant who was not satisfied with his treatment.  If he
had been in one of Eisenhower's camps, he would have had something to
complain about.


I am now through reading your blog.  It is too upsetting to me.

Day 146 - Another email with no name!!!

Sent to me today: Interesting ......


After I recovered somewhat from reading the hatred of the German people
expressed in your father's memoir, I went back and read your post from
Day 1.


You said that your father had a tattoo on his arm from his time in
Buchenwald.  Did you actually SEE this tattoo, or did your father just
tell you that he had a tattoo put on his arm at Buchenwald?


As far as I know, prisoners were tattooed ONLY at the Auschwitz camp.
Did he get this tattoo at Auschwitz?  You implied in your blog post that
he was tattooed at Buchenwald, which I don't believe.

My brother and I were trusting our memories as to the number we had remembered from our Dad's arm as children - when I started blogging I assumed that he had been tattooed in Buchenwald as he was liberated from that camp. In fact, before blogging and reading my Dad's memoir, I had only a vague idea of what had happened to him during the second World War..

Later, after blogging for a while, someone put me in touch with a place where I could obtain his records and had suggested to me that he thought that the number we were remembering sounded like an Auschwitz number.  Through this kind man's efforts, I was able to establish that the number on my Dad's arm was indeed, from Auschwitz.   Since blogging, I have been able to obtain more information about my Dad, as many, many kind people have come forward to help us fill in the pieces and to help us learn more about my Dad's life!    

You mentioned that he was a Nacht und Nebel prisoner.  Nacht und Nebel
was an expression originated by Goethe.  The English translation from
the German original words is Night and Fog.  You can check with
Wikipedia on the meaning of Nacht und Nebel, as related to the prisoners.


This quote is from Wikipedia:


Begin quote:
The decree was meant to intimidate local populations into submission by
denying friends and families of the missing any knowledge of their
whereabouts or their fate. The prisoners were secretly transported to
Germany, vanishing without a trace. In 1945, the seized
Sicherheitsdienst (SD) records were found to include merely names and
the initials NN (Nacht und Nebel); even the sites of graves were
unchronicled. To this day, it is not known how many thousands of people
disappeared as a result of this order. [1]

The International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg held that the
disappearances committed as part of the Nacht und Nebel program were war
crimes which violated both the Hague Conventions and customary
international law.[2]
End quote


The Nacht und Nebel decree was used in an effort to prevent "political
prisoners" from fighting illegally.  The idea was to make their families
believe that they had been killed, so that no other civilians would
become Resistance fighters.  The idea was NOT to kill the illegal
combatants, only to make their families believe that they had been killed.


You wrote that the Germans SUSPECTED that your father was in the
Resistance, implying that he was not.


You wrote that your father's tattoo was etched in your mind as a symbol
of your father's INTEGRITY.  A person who was an illegal combatant in a
war did not have INTEGRITY.


I think you should keep in mind that Germany surrendered in May 1945,
and *the country of Germany is still occupied after 65 years.*


I lived in German for two years after the war, and I saw first hand how
the Germans were treated.  They were insulted and humiliated on a daily
basis by the American soldiers, whom they had to serve because there
were no other jobs for them.  There were very few men in Germany after
the war because they had been kept in Eisenhower's death camps until
they died.  There were 1.7 million German soldiers who never came home.


When I lived in Germany in 1957, the streets were full of German people
after midnight because all the Americans soldiers were in their
barracks.  The Germans were dancing and singing in the streets because
the American occupiers were in bed and they could have a few hours of
freedom.


The German girls were all sleeping with American soldiers so that they
could get food for their families.  The soldiers treated these girls
shamefully with a complete lack of respect.


Some of the German people were living in small garden houses after the
war because Germany was so completely bombed that there were not enough
homes left.  These little houses were the size of a one-car garage.  The
Germans, who had a house, were renting out rooms so they could make a
little money.  There were many homeless people in Germany, who were
begging on the streets, 12 years after the end of the war, because there
were no jobs and not many houses left.  These people were the
"expellees" who were ethnic Germans that were chased out of other
countries and forced to go to Germany.


Although the German people suffered greatly after the war, they honored
the terms of their surrender and did not become illegal Resistance
fighters as your father did.  Today, the German people still have no
freedom; Germany is still an occupied country.


How would your father have fared if he had lived in an occupied country
for 65 years, instead of a few months?


Even after the shameful way that the German people were treated after
the war, they managed to bounce back and Germany is now the strongest
country in Europe economically.  They have completely restored the
historic German towns that were bombed by the Allies just for the hell
of it.


Of all the counties in Europe that I have visited, the German people are
the nicest and the most polite.



Day 145 - A sincere apology

I received an email today from an author unknown. The person corrected me on the fact that I have incorrectly referred to my Dad as a POW.  I sincerely apologize to all who might be offended by this oversight on my part!!! I wonder why the person didn't sign it or say who they were!

Copy of what I received today:

 I followed the link to your blog and read all the articles.


I think it is incorrect to say that your father was "a Belgian POW."  A
POW is a soldier, wearing a uniform, who surrenders, or is captured, on
the battlefield where he is fighting according to the rules of the
Geneva Convention.  A person who is not wearing a uniform, nor fighting
on the battlefield, but is a civilian aiding one side in a war, is
called "an illegal combatant."  Such a person was not entitled to
treatment as a POW under the rules of the Geneva Convention of 1929
which was in force during World War II.


Buchenwald was one of the two main concentration camps where Resistance
fighters were sent; the other was Natzweiler.  The first memorial that
was put up at Buchenwald was in honor of the French Resistance fighters.


After World War II ended, the Allies made up new laws, called
"ex-post-facto" laws, which changed the rules of warfare.  After the
war, the Allies claimed that the Resistance fighters should have been
entitled to the same treatment as POWs and should have been put into a
POW camp, not a concentration camp.  The Germans were put on trial at
Nuremberg, under these new laws that had not existed when their alleged
crimes were committed.


At the former Dachau camp, America conducted separate trials of the
Germans under these new laws, that had been created after the war. The
SS men on the staff of several of the concentration camps, including
Buchenwald, were put on trial in the American court at Dachau; the
Germans were charged with being criminals, under a new ex-post-facto law
called "common design" which was also used as the law to charge the men
at Nuremberg.  Under the new law of "common design" there was no
defense; anyone who was associated with a concentration camp in any way
was convicted as a "war criminal" under this new law.


Under the laws that were in existence during World War II, your father
was a war criminal because he was fighting in violation of the laws at
that time, which were the laws under the Geneva Convention of 1929. 
Because the Allies won the war, your father is a victim and a hero
because he fought for the Allies as an illegal combatant.  The American
soldiers who killed the guards at Buchenwald were not war criminals, but
heroes.  Under the rules of the Geneva Convention, the guards should
have been taken prisoner.  Concentration camps were not illegal during
World War II.

The Soviet Union had not signed the Geneva Convention, but the Soviets
claimed that their soldiers were entitled to protection under the rules
of the convention.  Soviet soldiers were executed at Buchenwald because,
under the rules of the Convention, they were not entitled to protection
because the Soviet Union did not honor the Geneva Convention with
respect to German soldiers.  The Allies changed the rules of the
Convention, after the war, so that the Soviet Union was entitled to
protection, although they were not following the Convention themselves.


America had "internment camps" where German-Americans were held until
two years AFTER the war.  Jehovah's Witnesses were sent to regular
prisons in America, not to the "internment camps."  Jehovah's Witnesses
were released from the German camps if and when they agreed to follow
the rules of their country and serve in the Army.


The British sent enemy civilians to regular prisons, not to internment
camps nor concentration camps.


After Germany surrendered, the Germans did not continue to fight as
Resistance fighters, as other countries did.  Poland surrendered after
fighting for only 28 days on the battlefield, but then continued to
fight as "the Polish Home Army" which did not fight on the battlefield,
but as illegal combatants, blowing up troop trains and ambushing German
soldiers from the forests in Poland.  Belgium also surrendered, but
continued to fight illegally.  France surrendered after 5 weeks, but
continued to fight as the "French Resistance."


Only the Germans followed the Geneva Convention to the letter.  Other
countries just changed the rules and then put the Germans on trial after
the war.  Sorry, but this makes me very angry.

Day 144 - I wish you enough ......


I Wish You Enough .... Author unknown

Recently I overhead a father and daughter in their
last moments together at the airport.  The airline had
announced her departure and standing near the
security gate, they hugged and said, "I love you. I
wish you enough."

She in turn said, "Dad, our life together has been 
more than enough.  Your love is all I ever needed.  I
wish you enough too, Dad."  They kissed and she left.

He walked over towards the window where I was
seated.  Standing there I could see he wanted and
needed to cry.  I tried not to intrude on his privacy, but
he welcomed me in asking,  "Did you ever say
good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?"

"Yes, I have," I replied.  "Forgive me for asking, but
why is this a forever good-bye?"I am old and she
lives much too far away.  I have challenges ahead,
and the reality is, the next trip back will be for my
funeral," he said.

"When you were saying goodbye I heard you say, "I
wish you enough.  May I ask what that means?"

He began to smile.  "That's a wish that has been
handed down for many generations within my family.
My parents used to say it to everyone."

He paused for a moment, looking up as if trying to
remember it in detail, he smiled even more.  "When
we said 'I wish you enough,' we were wanting the
the other person to have a life filled with just enough
good things to sustain them," he continued and then
turning toward me he shared the following:

I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.
I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in
life appear much bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you
possess.
I wish you enough 'Hellos" to get you through the
final 'Good-byes'

Then he walked away.

I WISH YOU ENOUGH!

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Day 143 - New readers!

Day 1           Introduction of my Dad's memoir
Day 2           to Day 112ish  = My Dad's memoir
Day 112 ....  Items related to the "Buchenwald" experience!

Hope you find it inspirational!

I have also started blogging a manuscript of my Dad's  experiences in Bulawayo, Rhodesia/Zimbabwe in the 70's: @ 
www. louisinbulawayo.blogspot.com or ca

Both of these blogs are not professionally edited - they are the culmination of an effort between my Dad and myself! 

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Day 142 - Buchenwald Poem


Crucible of Terror - Poem

A day in Buchenwald

The sun is smiling
Above me the sky is bright
But inside, my heart is tight.
How cruelly misplaced
Bird song seems
Where thousands were killed.
This is a place silence demanding
Where every smile must freeze,
A place laughter forbidding.
How much torment endured,
How many lives lost?
So carelessly taken ...
What suffering inflicted
Such crimes committed
At one man's behest!
"To each his own"
sneers the gate above,
a mournful heart is mine.
The feelings that fill me
Are pity and rage,
Helpless anger burns.
How cold, how dull
The hearts of those 
Who caused this agony.
A door falling shut
Resounds in these rooms,
An eerie gunshot ...
My God, how I thank Thee
That I freedom enjoy,
That you granted this gift.
Never was I forced to suffer
Am still able to laugh
Pain and sorrow pass by me.
And yet I am wistful,
These bloodstained roads
Hold me captive ...
Alicia Karlstroem
Written by Alicia Karlstroem, age 16, the day a memorial stone for Jehovah's Witnesses was unveiled by Max Liebster and Rikola-Gunnar L├╝ttgenau, deputy director of the Buchenwald Memorial, at Buchenwald concentration camp, May 9, 2002.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Day 141 - Remembering Buchenwald 2012 and always!

This blog from Day 1 onward is my Dad's memoir about his experiences during World War II, both as a civilian and a Belgian political prisoner in several prisons in France as well as in Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps. 

I am Louis' daughter Paula and have blogged his memoir in the last year - he passed away 23 years ago.  Naturally, I always have mixed feelings on Remembrance Day.  On one hand, I feel incredibly lucky that my Dad survived the concentration camp experience at both Buchenwald and Auschwitz.

On the other hand, I also feel very sad for all those people who have suffered because of war.  My Dad saw many people die in horrible ways and so I like to especially remember those who didn't make it as well as their families!

Remembering Buchenwald.....
THE FOLLOWING EXCERPTS ARE FROM:
Working to Death
The Buchenwald Concentration Camp 
Kristina Mitim
Professor Lockhart and Professor Gramer
Independent Study 199 - April 9, 2000

Although the tides began to turn in favor of the allies during 1944, time ran out for many of Buchenwald’s prisoners. As the Nazis lost ground, Buchenwald faced immense population and internal pressures. Although the concentration camp was not designated as a death camp, mass killings occurred with greater frequency. The Buchenwald stables became a type of "murder plant" where 8,000 Soviet prisoners of war were killed.  The crematorium also became a place for executions. Prisoners were hung on the wall by hooks and then slowly strangled to death. The smoke emitted from the burning gradually increased to more than twice a week by the end of the war. These atrocities culminated in the first days of April 1945.

As the Soviet Union approached the German fronts in 1945, the Nazis had to abandon the Polish extermination camps and destroy the evidence of their sadomasochism before the allies discovered the atrocities. Auschwitz was liquidated. Those prisoners not yet killed were marched to German concentration camps of Dachau, Mauthauseu, and Buchenwald. Thousand of prisoners arrived in Buchenwald increasing the camp’s population to over 50,000. It became obvious that the liberation of the Buchenwald was inevitable as the American/British/French armies began to discover other concentration camps. But the last few days of Buchenwald proved to be the most fateful.

The Commandant Hermann Pister received orders from Berlin to get rid of the prison population before the allies could discover the camp. But Pister hesitated. Historian Robert Abzug attributes this hesitation to Pister’s practicality. Pister knew that Americans were coming and he wanted to present himself well, so he slowed attempt to evacuate and kill the prisoners. Between April 3rd and 10th over 20,000 inmates were transported out of the camp to Dachau, Flossenburg, and Theresienstadt. Most died on the journey. Through the communist resistance groups within the prisoners’ ranks, many SS orders were outright defied or stalled. Chaos began to reign within the camp. Pister did not threaten the inmates with the usual force and by April 10th he fled with most of the SS guard leaving only a skeleton crew to control the camp.

The liberation of Buchenwald on April 11, 1945 sparked a heated debate for scholars and historians concerning resistance in concentration camps. The two accounts that exist reflect the way in which Buchenwald was commemorated. One theory holds that communists saved the camp’s inhabitants. The communist factions controlled the underground leadership of the camp. Calling themselves the International Committee, these prisoners were lead by the communist Hans Eiden. Throughout 1943 guns had been stolen from the armament and hidden. By noon, when distant gunfire echoed in the trees, the resistance overpowered the remaining SS guards and liberated the camp from inside. With power now in the hands of the prisoners they patiently waited for the Allies to bring supplies. The second theory holds that upon hearing the approaching gunfire in the afternoon, the SS guards fled into the forest. The prisoners then showed their guns without any enemy left to fight.

The American Combat Team 9 of the 9th Armored Infantry Battalion, Sixth Armored Division reached the nearby town of Hottelstedt at noon. SS guards were found in the town and a small contingent of American soldiers was sent to investigate the location of a possible concentration camp. They stumbled upon Buchenwald and liberated 21,000 prisoners. The crematorium contained hundreds of half burned bodies since the coal had run out. Reflecting on the liberation, prisoner Eugen Kogon said,

"But while the men who had bee liberated made the air ring with their rejoicing, a remnant of the 26,000 men who had been shipped out of Buchenwald during the final weeks were starving and suffocating in fifty railroad cars on the outskirts of the Dachau Camp—nameless, immortal victims."With the discovery of Buchenwald, the western world faced the reality of German atrocities.Upon liberation, the Allies saw a macabre working society. The International Committee had complete control over the inhabitants of the main camp and they took over aid and relief efforts as well as dealing justice to the SS. Eighty guards were killed. Newspaper journalist Percy Knauth, who entered the camp shortly after the liberation saw a sign left over from the Nazis. "It was a big, white-painted proclamation, half-effaced now by wind and weather, but I could still read: ‘Honesty, Diligence, Pride, Ability—theses are the milestone of your way through here.’" But after viewing the inhabitants of the camp, it became evident that the irony and sarcasm of the German work ethic simply did not apply to the prisoners. The "little camp" inmates were held in such contempt that their gate remained locked days after liberation. Twenty or more prisoners continued to perish each day from malnutrition or disease. After revealing the reality of Buchenwald, questions arose--How had the world allowed such a thing to happen?

Of the estimated 250,000 people who entered Buchenwald, over 50,000 perished between 1937 and 1945. Edward R. Murrow, a renowned American broadcast journalist, reported the reality of the camp on CBS radio.

"…I have reported what I saw and heard, but only part of it. For most of it I have no words. Dead men are plentiful in war, but the living dead, more than twenty thousand of them in one camp. And the country round about was pleasing to the eye, and the Germans were well fed and well dressed."With unflinching clarity, photographs of the victims reached American newsstands in Life Magazine. Nazi concentration camps shocked the world with their brutality. As victim’s images entered public consciousness Buchenwald became a symbol of unbelievable horror.The misery in Buchenwald did not end with the liberation. Memorializing Buchenwald immediately became an issue once the survivors were cared for. The journalist Knauth wrote in 1946,

"Living there as no animal would live, they earned the respect of all mankind forever.That, I think, is the final moral of a place like Buchenwald. You can do what you will to man, but you cannot eradicate the power of his spirit. You can torture him; he will come back to face you again. You can make him live in filth and feed him excrement; he can still be greater than you are. You can kill him, burn him, scatter his ashes on a garbage dump; his ideals will kill you in the end. You cannot debase man, for in so doing you must lower yourself beneath him, and—no matter what you do—he always will be higher and stronger than you are. That is why no concentration camp in history has ever been successful in doing what it seeks to do, and why no concentration camp ever will be. Buchenwald carried the seeds of its own downfall in itself when its first strand of barbed wire was strung a decade ago, and every Buchenwald ever built always will.
But we forget so easily. Perhaps, to remember better, we should commemorate Buchenwald as we commemorate other things of which we are prouder."
But Buchenwald was not commemorated immediately after its liberation. In fact the German concentration camp became a Russian interment camp. Between 1945 to 1950, the Soviet forces used the area to hold members of the Fascist party. Of the 28,000 internees, 7,000 died because of neglect and undernourishment.
Since the reunification of Germany, memory and memorial in Buchenwald has been hotly debated. Both Jewish victims and gypsies desire some sort of memorial. But a more disturbing request for commemoration comes from the Germans themselves. Although no evidence exists that the Germans interned at Buchenwald after 1945 were tortured, many deaths resulted. Although not victims of Nazism, these deaths are also tied to Buchenwald. Those opponents of the memorial claim that by commemorating these fascist Germans, one could be memorializing Nazism. The debate rages.

Buchenwald represented unspeakable terror for thousands of prisoners. Perhaps the Christian Century magazine said it best in 1945,

"Buchenwald and the other memorials of Nazi infamy reveal the depths to which humanity can sink, and has sunk, in these frightful years. They reveal the awful fate which may engulf all civilizations unless these devils of our pride and of our ruthlessness and of the cult of force are exorcised."Remembering the past through memorials like Buchenwald may enable society to face the reality of man’s brutal nature and strive harder to control the destructive tendencies toward each other.


I especially like to keep the memory of my Dad and his fellow prisoners at Buchenwald alive in my mind, both those who made it and those who didn't.................

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Day 140 - Colonel Buckmaster's officers

The following is an excerpt from one of my Dad's favourite books, The White Rabbit, by Bruce Marshall.  He made pencil notations in Chapter XIV, Buchenwald.  In particular, he highlighted the following from: Pages: 191/192 - Re: Yeo Thomas and other British officers on their arrival at Buchenwald:

"A fellow Briton had also been watching their mirth with no trace of amusement on his face: he was Perkins, one of Colonel Buckmaster's officers, and he warned the prisoners in much the same terms as the Kapo."

"You have little to laugh about," he told them.  "This is one of the worst concentration camps in Germany.  I just can't tell you how bad it is, but you'll find out for yourselves.  The treatment is terrible and the deaths can't be counted any more.  For heaven's sake watch your step.' And he added another admonition: 'And don't let on that you are officers.  And if any of you held any executive position in peacetime keep it to yourselves.  The internal administration of the camp is in the hands of Communists, and they don't like either officers or capitalists.'

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Day 139 - Louis in Bulawayo

I have finally started a blog based on my dad's account of his experiences in Bulawayo, Rhodesia/Zimbabwe at www.louisinbulawayo.blogspot.com or ca.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Day 138 - hopefully I will be able to

start a new blog about my Dad's experiences in Rhodesia/Zimbawe during the terrorist war around the 70's - I will probably get going on it in the next few weeks. 

I have several manuscripts in his own handwriting - it is interesting information! I think I will interject with my own letters and experiences!

Monday, 24 September 2012

Day 137 - Wing Commander Yeo Thomas!

As far as I know the English translation for Buchenwald is Beech Wood!  In his memoir, my Dad refers to the, "The White Rabbit", better know as Wing Commander Yeo Thomas.  A film and book were made about "The White Rabbit."
The last chapter of the book, reads:

"The King has been graciously pleased to award the GEORGE CROSS TO Acting Wing Commander Forest Frederick Yeo-Thomas, M.C. (89215), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve."

One of my Belgian grandfathers was awarded the GEORGE CROSS, World War I.  I saw the medal recently at my mother's house.  Weird!!!!!, for the first time ever I just realized that both grandfathers of mine were Flemish!!!

Excerpt from:  Page 4 of the book, The White Rabbit by Bruce Marshall, 1967: TO THE MEMORY OF ALL THE OTHER BRAVE

Summary from the White Rabbit:

"At the outbreak of World War II Wing Commander Yeo-Thomas was a director of Molyneux, the famous Parisian dressmaking firm.  He joined the R.A.F., and in 1942 was posted to the section of Special Operations Executive which was organizing the Resistance Movement in France.

He became a leading secret agent, dropping into France by parachute and establishing "contacts"..........When the B.B.C., broadcasts to France stated that the white rabbit had returned to the hutch it meant that Yeo-Thomas had safely returned to England.

In 1944, angry at the meagre assistance allocated to the Resistance, he secured an interview with Churchill, who, after hearing the story, immediately gave orders for substantial increases in the number of aircraft engaged in parachuting operations and for larger supplies of weapons and equipment.  By now came news that one of his French colleagues had been arrested by the Gestapo.  Yeo-Thomas insisted on going to his rescue - and in Paris was arrested himself.

There followed a long ordeal of incredible torture and suffering that only a man of indomitable spirit could have endured.  He steadfastly refused to give the Germans the information they wanted, managed to communicate with friends outside the prisons, and was of the few British survivors of the ghastly camp at Buchenwald.  He was later awarded the George Cross and appointed to the Legion of Honour....... 

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Day 136 - FOR THE DEAD! FOR THE LIVING!

The title of this section of my blog is from Page 3, Walter Poller's book, published in 1961, "Medical Block Buchenwald".  It was one of the books  found in my Dad's possessions when he passed away!

Walter Poller was a German political prisoner at Buchenwald and was released on May 10, 1940.  May 10, 1940, my Dad's birthday, and the day my Dad says that the war really started for him.

My Dad's story and Walter Poller's story seem to flow naturally into each, both with a very powerful message!

From Walter Poller, Introduction to the English Edition!

I wrote this book in April and May 1945, directly after the collapse of the Third Reich.  From the meagre notes - disguised for safety's sake - which I had jotted down during the first months after my release from the concentration camp in 1940.

It was not my intention to release the book immediately for publication.  I knew that the contents could have become a manual for Evil and was afraid that in the forthcoming difficult years it could foster a new irrational premise and obscure objective standards.

My intuition told me that this report  in its intended sense could not fulfill its purpose until, from an inner need and the in the fullness of time, the blackest of chapters in history could fruitfully overcome......

Today it has become an imperative duty to conquer the sinister past, not only in Germany and Central Europe but throughtout the whole world.  The public cannot and will not weaken in this respect.

The reader will easily recognize that this book was written to break down doors which were closed to many and which might have been closed today.  These are the doors through which each man must pass if he wishes to lead a decent human life and to strife for a better humanity.

As I wrote it there loomed behind me the shades of 238,379 prisoners who passed through the Calvary of Buchenwald and of the 56,545 men and women who were murdered there.  May this book prove a foundation stone for a better future!

London, 6th December, 1960.  WALTER POLLER

Days 1 - 132 of this blog are primarily my Dad's story about his e road to Buchenwald and back from a Belgian survivor's perspective! 


Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Day 135 - The End and New Beginnings!

"Anyway, I felt  that I was truly back into useful service again, fighting my own way back without having to go to rest places in the Limburg and Switzerland to recuperate from my concentration camp and war experiences.

I also fought my way back into life's competition with the best and held my head high without flinging to the weak side and bribes.  I even passed an exam with flying colors, for stores and magazines, for the mail boats but they waited too long to let me know and by then I had already left for Canada.  


Due to my travels, I was even unable to attend my own Mother's or Uncle's funerals.  However, I did make it for my Dad's funeral as at the time I was living in England again.  Unfortunately, an unfair distribution of my inheritance had already taken place before I arrived back in Belgium.  So, as a result, I lost all trace of my family and benefits, I was either in England, Canada or Rhodesia.


I still continued to work hard bringing the family up - nothing was ever short.  While in Rhodesia, I studied mining and prospecting and became involved in the war between, The Settlers and The Freedom Fighters.  Minding my business, as much as I could, so I could get on independently.


Forever holding on to the right of, "Freedom of Expression", that I had so much endeavored and hungered for during my war period in Europe,  which was always fresh in my memory...........................


I believe my memoir reflects the true findings of myself and other people around the world who bear the scars of unjust wars and who survive in the loins of generations of their ancestors reaching similar conclusions in the end.


Only wisdom and the necessary Will to do so will enable us to understand and turn this world into a paradise for all.


"To Each His Own", will once more remind us of this.................


THE END AND BEGINNING................................ 

Day 134 - Last pages from in Louis' Memoir

I have decided to write the end of my Dad's memoir on this blog.  Initially,  unilaterally I had decided to exclude his last couple of pages but who am I to decide what should or should not be included - my Dad's words should continue to speak for themself!

Wow, there is a fantastically dark storm coming..... the whole room is dark - I love storms albeit from a safe distance! Wow, thundering and lightning and very, very dark ........heavy rain now and dynamic thunder and lightning - I am glad I am not on my bike - close call ....I just screamed (oh dear) as there was a heavy lightening flash through my window.

Yesterday, I discovered that there is a site called Pro Belgium on fb -  so I do not need to create my own site after all!!!!.  I love it - as mentioned, I like the sense of belonging to Belgium as in previous years I had experienced a sense of disconnect from any cultural heritage!

Last pages of my Dad's memoir: www.fynaut.blogspot.com

My career in the navy was over and I could looked forward to a shore life with allll1 the responsibilities of a large family which ended up with four lovely girls and one boy.

Abroad and competing doubly, I managed to concentrate my acquired engineering skills for working in garages and machine shops in factories which were in full swing at that time with bonuses and lots of overtime.

I even received a nine month rehabilitation course in Ghent for garage management in the higher technical institutes for veterans and alike, under which I was qualified, which entitled me to luxuries by now - as I was paid out like a professional in damage claims.  I received a political cross from Prince Albert with four stars and had the right of the Order of Leopold.

My absence from Belgium eventually got me out of touch with all the news, the last appeal closed in 1953, at which time I had embarked on trying to improve myself with work and making a home for my family ......

To be continued......Via Day 135 - I am going to watch the storm!!!

Monday, 3 September 2012

Day 133 - Pro Belgium bloggers Louis and Paula Fynaut

Louis Fynaut's blog at: www.fynaut.blogspot.com

Paula Fynaut's blog at www.laurafynaut.blogspot.com

Day 132 - Letter sent out from Buchenwald Concentration camp Aug.1944

As far as I know, attached is the only letter my Dad was able to send out from Buchenwald.  It was scribed for him in German - he was allowed to sign with his first name which would have let his parent's know it was genuine - it would likely have been heavily censored!!!!I have decided to continue this blog by adding inserts from books that are relevant to my Dad's story and then very likely create a new blog about his Zimbabwe story ...

Monday, 27 August 2012

Day 131 - Remembrance......

Today is 23 years since my Dad passed on!  Last night, I was reading more of Gandhi's autobiography.  I like Gandhi's ideas on living a simple life insofaras material possessions.  My Dad was also a big believer in experiences rather than possessions.

The ideal that both Gandhi and my Dad shared and the one I like the most is; that it doesn't matter what your status is (or how small you feel in the big picture) that you can make a difference!

Also, on a somewhat lighter note!!!!!???I was thinking of my Dad and other people in concentration camps and how some of them  survived despite their hunger/pains/pangs as well as other things!

Anyhow, the positive thing is that it made me reflect on how I should continue to be be grateful for what I have and it also made me think I shouldn't whine about inconsequential things  - nothing wrong with that!!!!!

Excerpt from my Dad's blog:

My new block was now next to the fence in the Guinea Pig block or experimental block.  It was also the center for the combined operations of the camp Resistance, we were the main group.  The rest of the Resistance network was spread out evenly in all the blocks.  At this point, the biggest threat to us were the German Greens, they were the rascals.  They were still patriots and used as "Ferrets" - so we had to replace them as quickly as possible - we got rid of them through concessions given to us by the S.S. - due to our status as political prisoners.

The S.S. still needed us to fulfill their programs for the delivery of new weapons.  The war was now beginning more and more to take a turn against the Germans and so our rights as political prisoners had to be considered more carefully now.  This balance was achieved through a transition that sent the worst elements into oblivion!

Due to this new perspective, we were now supplied with a bit more food, this only lasted for a very short time.  The extra food was in the form of a thin porridge in the morning and Austrian cigarettes supplied by the S.S., later in the day.  However, we were soon back to Magorka cigarettes , which consisted of  chopped stems from Russian tobacco plants - made from the bottom dregs of Russia's country vineyards at Moselle.  We could buy these with our Marks - these small pauses, in our daily routine, gave us a bit of a breather. 

By June or July the heat was pretty constant now -  so our small slice of bread, with a finger of margarine, was now supplied in the evening.  This was  before the watery soup round, which sometimes had the addition of a small amount of salami or jam. The allocation of food was all experimental stuff or at least most of it.  They were always figuring out what was the minimum amount of food/rations that we could eat while still being of use to them.

The bread consisted of a lot of potato flour with straw in it and other local products - only some of the wheat was present as far as we saw and knew, the remainder consisted of birch nut flour and lots of chestnuts.  The margarine and jam were all concoctions and produced by the coal industry. 

The meat or salami - unknown to us in its consistency - was about one half an inch thick and one inch wide - it didn't last long either with its meager supply.  Sometimes, they made our rations smaller to suit themselves and then the ravages of hunger after that were terrible for us!

If you are wondering whether cannibalism had taken place - yes, we had heard of it.  One night, a body was laying outside in the quarantine area, waiting to be collected and in the morning the body was missing a foot. 

Nobody saw what happened!  New arrivals were constantly coming in via transports on an ongoing basis, usually from worse conditions, very likely coming over to die, which was more usual than unusual near the end...

My dad's story about his experiences during World War II begins at Day 1 of this blog .................

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Day 130 - Letter from a Belgian War Horse!

Letter from my Dad (in Flemish) to a bureacractic institution about his pension and war service in Buchenwald concentration camp and elsewhere)

Written: 16th December, 1985

Beste Heer; Mr. G.M. BOVY

Hartelyke Gelukwensen voor het nieuwe jaar.

Al mijn papiereu; levensberwyren, reducktie-kaart en formulier voor reistpensioen opgerhonden eender naar de Fuidertoren of wel Wolvengracht.

Als het past nal ik in Engeland vertoeven rond den 12 en tot 45 en van Januarie en in Belgie van der 21 en - 23 en.......

De kweste van rechthebbend op een "Order van Leopold II", in mejn geval, gerniem dat het ze was indertjiel en nooit aangevraagt zon een nieuwe indicening met 70 percent invaliditeit.

En vierder wat betrefgt een individuale decoratie voor aktei; date moet gedaan worden door uw commanding officer of wel gelykgestelde.

Gernien dat Meyintreer, Van Tolderverelt ...., een voormalige officier was in 't Belgiese Leger en Madame De Nile op 't zelfde adres dan; het contact was tueen, Vice-Admiral (Royal Navy, Mr William Stanton, Reserve Officer British Army; Mr. Ronald Stanton en Major in the British Army; Mr. Reginald Bellen,  Zyn dat genoeg commanding officieren????

Alsdat ik de Belgiese Inlichtuigsdienste heb geraadplaagt zal ik natuurlyk het hetzelfde doen met de Britse, beginnende met de
"War Archives: WHITEHALL, LONDON.  Meyn schoonbroeder advokaart en officer in 't Briste Leger kan een affidavit op maker....
In geval van meerdere gegevens:

Het was in Buchenwald dat een gealtieerde weerstande gesticht was onder al de intelligencies orgenten weerstenders en politicken.

Tot dewelke ik rechtstreeks behoorde na een strict verhoor de welke van het grootste belamy was, genierm: de acht V-2 en in Buchenwald alsook DORA met zyn "├»ntercontinental bullistic missile":, ondergrondse jet-installatioes, de PANZER - grenadiers rondom de Etterberg: dat was onskamp en constaint niewuwe  S/S in training ter plaatse en mogelyk om wapenen te parachuteren woor een eventuel uitbraak.

Voor dat, het was nan node een koerier to hebben; ingeval van mislukking, een andere, enrh.

Ik was tweede in lyn; gereedgewaakt Nummer een, een EIZASSER? gelukkiglyk, bereikte ryn doel holocaust van finale bombing en wat niet getroffer was kon niet meer getransporteert worden als gevolg.

Wapens werden niet gegropt in geval van "repercussions" op andere dampen, maar wy  waren in straat van zulks te nemer van de dode S/S.

De slachtoffering was enorm maar verhekering "Victory" was groter.

Een gelyk dat, stormden we uit, ieder in Tiejn vechtcommandos met een leider op het gejraste ogenblik en de stoelen varen omge-keerdt met 200 gevengenen op ovre rekening plus medewerking van de U.S.A. 8th Army.

Commanding Officier in Buchenwald was Blum,  Brusselse publisher en senator, thans overleden co-stryder en politieke gevangene Antoinio, ....

Voor de Amerikaanse "Control Commission, S/SGT. ELMER G. Luchterhand (unity Wisconsin).

Jose De Wever, Dentist Antwerpen, Camuz - Boekhandelaar Brussels.  Wing Commander Yeo-Thomas,  allernaal overleden house, Moulineux, Paris en Wales.

In memo: van zovele dappere mensen; de folteringen, ontsnappingen liekten en inviduale akties van moed.

Zal ik quoteern van, "THE MAN ON HIS OWN", Patrick, Ledeux 1963-65 FIRST PRIZE IIIrd CUNEO Festival of Films on the "Resistance";

"He means to react, so this means: Act!
Simply because his whole being, his faculties, his whole
intelligence make him say,
"No, I won't be passive any longer"

Myn mede-genoaten soldaat George, Barbaix wonende to Oostende heeft Engeland bereikt en in lichtingen verstrekt bestreffende de verplaatsing van de soldering voor de nachtbombers verantwoordeljk met de vernietiging van en van de u-boot basises in  Noord - Duitsland en die andre alsook in Oostende verlost in GROSS-STRELITZ kamp de Russen, ingelyjdt voer le maander met de kozaks

Dankie u voor uw aandacht.
Laat me geweten van de mogelykheden!
Fyd is aan het uit lopen veer ans, de laatste

Hoogachtend,

Signed by my dad Louis and written in 1985!

I definitely have typed some of the Flemish inaccurately.  However,  I was going to translate it but then I realized that it doesn't need to be translated it speaks with a universal tone!!!!

Most English speaking people can read between the lines and understand the message about war and its impact and effect on the lives of individuals. !!!!!. My dad was 62 when he wrote the above letter!!!!!! 







Thursday, 9 August 2012

Day 129 - Partly Peeled Potatoes and Ear Wiggling!

PEELING POTOTOES

Today, while peeling some spuds or potatoes I realized that it was not necessary to peel the skin off completely!  My dad always used to say that the goodness of potatoes is mostly in the skin!

Also, fortunately for me, I have had the benefit of being around quite a few compulsive people in my life.  My observations from watching people with compulsive tendencies has enabled me to learn a thing or three - I now have come to the realization that making everything perfect does not increase my personal satisfaction about the object produced!  So, my mashed potatoes had quite a few peels in but it was still edible!!!!Hey, I think I may have learned something today!!!!!

EAR WIGGLING

Yesterday, my friend Veronique and I went for a walk and I mentioned that my dad used to be able to wiggle his ear and she said that her dad could do that too.  Veronique's father was born about the same time as my dad and is Flemish too!  Veronique thought that maybe the ear wiggling talent may have been something Belgian boys learned in that era or that possibly genetics are at play!!!

She also mentioned a book she was reading on children who had been adopted.  The book mentioned that something like 98 percent of adopted children try to find their natural parents. That reinforces my experience that most people have an innate desire to connect with their roots. 

Like mentioned before, "I didn't know who I was until I learned more about where I came from!"

Monday, 6 August 2012

Day 128 - Abstract from a paper about Xenophobia!


The Logic of Xenophobia

  1. Jens Rydgren
    1. Department of Sociology,Stockholm University,SE-106 91 Stockholm,Sweden jens.rydgren@sociology.su.se

Abstract

In this article I discuss the subjective rationality of xenophobic and racist beliefs. Although such beliefs are mostly non-rational from an objective perspective, because of their incongruence with reality, under certain conditions they may appear rational from people’s subjective point of view – in particular in situations of uncertainty. The reason for this is mainly cognitive limitations and biased background information. I argue that xenophobic beliefs are often underpinned by categorization and inference biases. More specifically, xenophobic beliefs may arise out of invalid inductive inferences and by stereotyped categorization processes. Both these types of erroneous inferences result from thought processes that have the same form as cognitive mechanisms people use successfully in their daily lives, which give them good reason for relying on them without much reflection.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Day 127 - Is this Poem Relevant Today! !What do you think!

Based on reading the news lately, I felt compelled to include my dad's poem about war again!!


Piece written by my Dad and found with his memoir as a loose sheet of paper.  I bolded To Each His Own which was the title of my Dad's memoir.  Also, he talks of spectres, past and present - our family fought the Germans in WWI as well as WWII so he may be referring to that part of our family history!

Glory To War

To Each His Own, evolves a picture of an adverse assembly of spectres, past and present, sitting on a multitude of battle ready horses with mad, drunken, hysterical staring eyes; guided firmly in the saddle by a terrible ghost of grim corrupt dignitaries cloaked in all kinds of beautiful apparel of stupendous splendour, rich ornaments, tiaras, uniforms and medallions.  Covered by an eerie aura of bad stormy weather, darkening the pomp and glamour spectacle galore; wallowing in unsurpassed greediness with the sweet, rotten stench of death ever present around.

Passing by like a macabre parade; trampling casually on the mutilated corpses of long suffering mankind, foe and friend alike.

Little voices crying from beneath the holocaust, faintly heard, by the stunned helpless survivors.

We are next ...

Tell the world, please!

Written by: Louis Emanuel Fynaut

Day 126 - My Dad's 17th Birthday - May 10, 1940!


Blitzkrieg in the west
Friday, May 10, 1940www.onwar.com
German paratroopers drop in HollandOn the Western Front... The Germans launch Operation Gelb, the offensive in the west. Army Group C (Leeb) holds the German frontier opposite the French Maginot Line while Army Group A (Rundstedt) makes the main attack through the Ardennes and Army Group B (Bock) makes a secondary advance through Belgium and Holland to draw the main British and French forces north. During the day, Army Group A strikes, with three armored corps in the lead, heading for Sedan, Montherme and Dinant. The advance is rapid and the little opposition, mostly French cavalry, is thrown aside. To the north, Army Group B carries out parachute landings deep inside Holland which do much to paralyze Dutch resistance, while German units cross the Maas River near Arnhem and the Belgian fort at Eben Emael is put out of action by a German airborne force which lands its gliders literally on top of it. The fort is meant to cover the crossings of the Albert Canal nearby and this is not achieved. The Luftwaffe gives powerful support. At the end of the day the German advance has gone almost exactly according to plan. Meanwhile, the Allied Plan D provides for the French 1st Army Group ( General Billotte), consisting of the British Expeditionary Force ( General Lord Gort) and the French 7th Army (General Giraud) to advance to the line of the Dyle River and the Meuse River above Namur, to be joined there by the Belgian forces and on the left to link with the Dutch. General Gamelin is the Allied Supreme Commander and General Georges commands the armies on the French Northeast Front. The Allies react quickly to the German attacks as soon as they hear of them from the Belgians. By the evening much of the Dyle line has been occupied but the troops find that there are no fortifications to compare with the positions they have prepared along the Franco-Belgian frontier during the Phony War period. Some of the reserve is therefore committed to strengthen the line. Some of the advance forces of French 7th Army make contact with the Germans in southern Holland and are roughly handled.
In Britain...Churchill visits the King and officially takes office as prime minister.
In Norway... British forces are sent south from Harstad to Mo-i-Rana to join the small units trying to delay the German advance to relieve the Narvik force. Some of these units are now engaged at Mosjoen.
In Iceland... British troops land on the island. They are the advance elements of a force which is to set up a destroyer and scout-plane base to help in the convoy battles in the Atlantic. Equally, they will prevent the Germans using the island to aid their U-boat campaign.

See my dad's story beginning Day 1 of this blog!

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Day 125 - Left in the Dark, May 10, 1940 - Belgium!

"In May 1940, Dunkirk, the biggest Churchill defeat of the lot....Letters between Churchill and the French Prime Minister, Paul Reynaud, revealed the ugly truth that Churchill, himself, gave the secret order to Lord Gort, the British General in command of the British expeditionary force at Dunkirk, "Withdraw, fall back," or as Churchill put it, "Advance to the coast." That was Churchill's wording. "And you are forbidden to tell any of your neighboring allies that you are pulling out. The French and the Belgians were left in the dark that we were pulling out."

I just found the above information on the Internet.  Churchill's decision had a big impact on my family in Belgium fThe most profound thing I have learned from my Dad's memoir and subsequent readings is that life is very random!

From May 10, 1940 onwards my dad, his family and the Belgian and French people were left very much in the dark and initially had to rely to a great extent on their own resourcefulness to survive what they were confronted with as events continued to unfold ...........

Day 124 - Belgian Buchenwald Survivor!

Have just got back from a trip to Europe to visit my mother!  I was able to read a family tree book that she has in  her possession.  My maternal grandfather's family also came from Belgium and settled in London during World War One as refugees.  Yes, my mum and dad are related, which is something I had a bit of trouble coming to terms with until recent times! 

My grandfather on my Mum's side and my Dad's side were both Flemish!  The family tree book traces their common ancestors back to one man from Bruge, now Belgium, mid 1500's, who had four children.  Surreal to see photos of my ancestors staring out at me through the generations! 

I am not sure how this blog is going to continue and what form it is going to take - I will think about that later.  I am still jet lagged and consequently not thinking very clearly.

During my trip,  I visited Spain, France and Italy and was very close to Morroco.  I had time to reflect on some of the experiences my Dad mentioned about Morroco and World War II.  

I was very pleased to see a monument in the harbour at Ajaccio!, Corsica, dedicated to, Resistance Fighters from WWII.  I took some pictures - my dad would have liked that!!! I also visited Rome and Tuscany which included Florence and Pisa in Italy - loved that too!

I feel I should mention my maternal grandmother and her family as they also have had a great and interesting background.  The family tree book describes my maternal grandmother as a "cockney" - she was brought up in London, England - all her family and remaining family were can be very Londonish!!

My maternal grandmother spent a lot of her youth round and about The British Museum and The Strand in central London.  In an article in the, London, "Sunday Times",  my uncle described his mother as a feisty lady - she was alive at the time and took offence to that description!!! 

It is very interesting through reading the family tree to learn about  ancestors from the past.  It would appear that some family patterns and (dare I say, idiosyncracies)  and characteristics have coincidentally!!!???? manifested themselves again and again in future generations, Surreal!!!!!!!!!!!

For new readers this blog starts at Day 1 and is the story of my dad's war experiences during World War II from a Belgian POW's perspective. 

Coindidentally, I met someone yesterday, who mentioned to me that he has never come across anybody who had a family member  who survived a German concentration camp experience and was not Jewish - he is 70 years old!










Sunday, 8 July 2012

Day 123 - I have fixed the blog as sometimes it is not visible!

I apologize - sometimes this blog is or has been blanked out in white.  I have fixed it now - there seems to a bug in the system!

For anybody new,  Day 1 - Day 123 are blogs of my Dad's memoir.  Day 1 is the beginning of his story.  The blog is mostly about his experiences in the Second World War as a Belgian political prisoner in France, Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps.  



Day 122- Finally settling down!

"My fiancee and soul mate now asked me to come and get married in England.  I was 25 years old!  On an earlier occasion,  with a ring I had purchased in Antwerp with my first month's wages, I had made a quick dash to England with an engagement ring - I was 25 years old! 


For our wedding day in England, the hall was booked, the guests invited and the cake brought over from South Africa - things still being short in England!


At the time, Belgium being slow with permissions due to Napoleonic Laws we had to post a notice in the town hall in Ostend, Belgium.  We also had to obtain special permission to get married.


In addition, we went to Church House, Borough of Westminster, London, England, where I swore on the bible and became an accepted Anglican.


My career in the Navy was over and I could now look forward to a shore life with all the responsibilities of a large family.  I ended up with four lovely girls and a boy.............................


Will be continuing this blog with my Dad's manuscript about our his adventures in South Africa and Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia)!





Saturday, 7 July 2012

Day 121 - Casablanca and American ciggaretes!

"When we arrived in Casablanca there seemed to be a curfew going on and some trouble.  I had not time to wait for the Pursor to get an advance on my salary. So, I borrowed loose change from my dear friends and also tucked a couple of  packages of American cigarettes under the collar of a raincoat which I then put over my arm.   At that time, American cigarettes were still the best collateral!

Morroco was a protectorate of France and the cigarettes and raincoat as well as my Belgian passport worked well!   Anyway,  I made for Irene's address - not before getting some flowers, which to my surprise had used up all my change when I asked the price, so I threw the bunch back to the Arab vendors and made a run for it taking no notice of the screaming sellers.

Arriving at the house, I was told that Irene was at the cinema, so I bought my way into the show using a pack of cigarettes and with the aid of an usher found her.  Her welcome was warm and hospitable and I told her I was engaged.  She said that I should name my first daughter Irene - my second daughter was eventually so called!  I cannot remember the names of her children!.

The last thing I remember looking at, before leaving Casablanca, was the Casbah.  Lots of men were walking around there hand in hand, which Irene said was quite usual.  She also warned me to watch out for sexually transmitted diseases. 

Soon after we left  we heard that the Atlantic plateau between Safi and Agadir had moved upwards and had caused an earthquake that killed at least two thousand people.  It was a good thing we were away from there at that moment!  After that I never heard from my family in Morroco again.

On our return trip, Roger and I made it back to Ostend.  We later got taken on for the cargo boats by; Maritime Belge in Antwerp.  They respectively sent us off to Angola and the Congo.  I was assigned to Lobito and Roger to Matadi in the Congo stream - a climate Roger could not tolerate.

After that trip, he got married and forever stayed ashore.  For me, it was only the start, the sea was good to me, good money, a home and an appetite like a horse".

To be continued ...




Day 120 - Ports of call Lisbon and Casablanca!

"The ship was waiting and we sprang aboard ready to sail.  Later, my cousin Irene had undertaken the 200 km. trip to meet me.  Unfortunately, she didn't reach Safi before we sailed again and were gone with wind!  The "Gella" now took us north.  On the next voyage we were scheduled to stop in Casablanca so I wrote to my cousin Irene and told her the news. 

We arrived back safely in Ghent with the boat was on a bit of a tipping angle as the load had moved to one side on the high seas.  We had a bit of mutiny going on - the daily meal was always mutton and nothing but mutton every day!  So, we circled around from the kitchen, in indian file, and went bleating to the Captain until we got his promise of a change in our diet.  We went out in Ghent and had a very good time and then went home.

Before our return trip we tried out the lifeboats  - that was a bit of a trial.  Some were leaking, others were lacking plugs and some of the pumps were not working.  In the Gulf of Biscay we floated around without power until John took action.  He had to swim down and under in the engine room to open valves and release the water that had come in to the boat.  He had to keep releasing water until everything was working properly again.

On the next voyage we first went to Lisbon - we had a better time than on our previous time and this time visited the fairgrounds and The Alexander Bar.  Our biggest difficulty proved to be finding our way around town.  The Portuguese woman were very inhibited but we got to the bar eventually and had a good time.  Lisbon looked pretty new and different to us - they now had a lift tram climbing up the side of the cliffs.

Alongside the big seafarers statue we boarded the old "Gella"and again sailed the north coast making for Casablanca but this time we left early in the morning!

To be continued ...