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Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Day 50

See Day 1 (Blog 1 for Introduction)

"In no time our little group came out into the cold moonlight, which seemed, silvery and spooky to us, reflecting an aura of doom and gloom over our side of the globe.

We had little wooden soles with canvas on our feet and had received a little bit of what I think was a kind of bread crust.  The whole transport was pretty well intact minus the twenty five dead.  At this point, we were nearly senseless and could barely see above the atrocities and cruelty.  We had begun to notice only cold and warmth, pain and sorrow and were just barely aware of the stars at night and by day the sun and clouds.

If you got too much out of line you were just shot or pushed or walked into the gas chamber yourself.  We moved like "Les Miserables", trying to walk with those  planks on our feet.  We had to get used to the planks immediately.  The earth was very wet and marsh like - I think this place was constructed on the moors to make it harder to endure!

Having walked outside now and passed the two Frankenstein looking buildings with their smoke stacks, I sighed and thought we were too close to them for comfort.  To our right, all the barracks looked long and dreary and did not have windows.  They put us in the two, last barracks, on our left, next to the furthest crematorium.

Strict orders were given - we were not to leave the barracks!  There was one latrine outside with a long pit alongside it with water coverage.  That was all, 
no bunks, no chairs, no tables.  Condemned people sentenced to die do not need to lie or sit down"!

To be continued ....

Day 49 - Reflections on War and Life

See Day 1 (Blog 1 for Introduction) 

"I didn't actually see the people being pushed into the death houses and gas chambers.  Our "liquidators" were masters at covering up and hiding their atrocities and murders; but the results spoke for themselves.  Because of this and other reasons, some survivors past and present, still have a hard time convincing people that the events they saw and experienced actually happened.  This seems similar to the struggle that Galileo experienced when trying to convince people that the world was round not flat!

All that happened seems fathomless and incomprehensible to most people. We will never understand the whole affair, spiritually or otherwise. Even the S.S., who were personally involved, acted as though they didn't do it themselves.  So much was never understood by those who had never been there. I do know that we were there as a result of a war that we had been forcibly pushed into!

To tell the truth as we saw it and then to be told, or near enough, that it could not have been so is hard for me to understand!  Maybe it could all be boiled down to a bad dream, after all, life and death is only a passing event. The S.S. proved that to be true because they were given backing and power which allowed them to do anything to anybody, similar to wild animals.

The belief and faith that the, "All Being", suddenly decides, at a certain point, that it's enough and that people can walk through the Red Sea, destroy their  enemies or that one individual will be saved among all the dying, like an ant that is not trodden on is a strong faith!  Such things did happen but not for the majority of people in the camps.  For the most part, everything ran like clockwork, the trains went to their destinations on time, the gas chambers worked excellently and for a long time nothing seemed to come in the way of the smooth flow of affairs put into motion.  

When near the end people seemed to accept their deaths as a matter of fact and if you didn't it made absolutely no difference!  One was not capable of doing anything else but suicide.  At the same time, soldiers and civilians were dying on all fronts.  Somehow, "The Creator", was in all this but who knows his way of working - cleaning the culmination of all the wrongs with more and better wrongs!!??

The passing of events we really do not understand but the visible things are there for the living.  It is the same for the whole universe and it's workings - you can see it. Beyond what we can see for ourselves, we do not seem to know or comprehend the infinite whole however much we try to figure it out.

The spirit challenges even it's own maker.

Everybody thinking he or she has the monopoly over what!!!!???????until ground down to nothing over and over again.........."

To be continued ...

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Day 48 - Simon Wiesenthal and Sorry Looking Clowns!

"At that moment, a tumult arose ...

With the belts, one prisoner had tried to cut his wrist with razor blades; a tourniquet was wound around his wrist and the S.S. furiously told him off saying that he couldn't cut his wrist without permission and how stupid he was!  That fellow must have been Simon Wiesenthal (later, he became a famous Jewish, nazi hunter), anyway, he survived and came all the way with us - they never noticed or separated him from the rest of us.

He wasn't allowed to take his own life, what a sarcastic twist of the whole chicanery - they were going to take our lives away when they felt like it but even that had become their perogative.  Obviously, they thought the only real authority was from the abyss, the oath they had taken said so.

Before we passed through the opposite door we received a complete immersion in a concrete trough filled to the brim with a green liquid.  The liquid must have been a kind of disinfectant, as we passed through the door somebody put a heavy, round, mop on our heads, it looked like a plunger and they dipped it in the green stuff.

It was like a baptism!  Away from this glorified treatment we found ourselves in a long draughty corridor in which we had to run it's length.  As it was night, cold and early in the year you can imagine that we were only too glad to make a good run for it - it felt near to freezing point.  Chilled to the bone now and still having that sausage with us that we couldn't eat - we had had nothing to eat now for a long time - I think that five days had passed by now since we had last eaten but we had lost track of time.

At the end of the hall we came to a room full of clothes spread out and you just quickly had to choose the ones that fitted best. These were full of bullet holes and were of a dried red colour and covered with lime and looked like they had been quickly prepared in old gas chambers.

So, we put them on looking like sorry clowns, similar to the people we had seen running around when we had arrived.  Even in our state, when looking at each other, we couldn't help to release a pitiful laugh and some poking their fingers through the holes still as in disbelief.

After what I have just reported it seems to me that in situations such as these most minds can only take so much and then it stops and you just keep on going or it snaps altogether. 

Since my release, I have met people from all walks of life telling me that as I didn't see everything with my own eyes and only heard some things from other prisoners that somehow those things didn't happen... 

I have also witnessed the aftermath on some of my fellow prisoners who came back to us with their lugubrious news of horrible and disturbing events.  As they recounted these things, it appeared to me that they themselves had a hard time comprehending or convincing themselves that such things were really happening - even though they were witnessing them with their own eyes.....! 

To be continued ....

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Day 47 - Kramer: The Bully of Sacksenhausen!

Scroll to  Day 1 (Blog 1) for Introduction

"To our further amazement an S.S. was going over our files with our numbers again, contemplating the order of our fate.  Later, I realized that the big, round faced S.S. officer going over our files was Kramer, the well known bully of Sacksenhausen.  He had his dog with him and was continuously shaking his head at some of the Jewish helpers called, "der sonder-commando" or the sin commando.  They were named this way because they survived by doing the burning, hard labour and dirty work. 

If they were lucky, they could get a further six months extension on their lifes and then they would eventually be replaced and in turn become candidates for the gas chambers.  They helped put their own families into the gas chambers as well as other people and then would pull them out to be cremated in the powerful ovens.  All this was told to us by their own people as we were waiting.

All around us there seemed to be a lot of complications, orders and counter orders were going back and forth in a somewhat oversubscribed, communication system. It was even suggested that we shouldn't be there at all.  Apparently, we were in the wrong place and accommodation needed to be found for us as soon as possible - they wanted to move us along so that we wouldn't see too much of what was going on whilst we were there.  We were still designated under N.N., the disappearing number or "Nacht und Nebel".

We were to be shot directly if we went slightly out of line.  This turned out to be very much so.  I had gone inside and lost track of Janeck.  Everybody had been busy looking after themselves and some of us had still been contemplating how to attack as a last resort.  I had decided that the middle of the pack would be best as nobody would move from the forward position.

I was half-way down, sitting against what we were told were showers but the concrete boxes looked like old contraptions to me - big thick doors again, dark cellular looking insides with a pipe sticking out from the ceiling.  At first, I thought that maybe they were disinfecting chambers for clothes but foremost we were told that they were old gas chambers.  This was the first old building they had used for this - the stable they called it.  I worked out that they could take maybe ten or more people and there were about three or four of them as far as I could see.  I didn't look too closely, don't forget we were still in a state of dehydration which was getting worse by the minute.  Some had drunk from the water on the ground which was dirty and disease ridden.

Rushed orders came suddenly and we started moving!  I left the damned doors quickly and hurried into the queue to be shaven.  On an elevated platform were prisoner barbers - shaving us crudely on every hair that they could find with blunt and rusty razors.  We came out of this ordeal scratched and bleeding.

A fairly large Jew, from Antwerp, better dressed than the others, explained to us the ins and outs, the daily routine of the camp and what we should keep.
Every batch was then assembled in a larger place with security at both ends and big sliding doors.  One S.S. was waiting inside the doors, controlling valves, which was for the water, lucky for us!  He let about twenty of us in at a time.  After he had opened some valves a few drips came out from the pipes above us which we drank eagerly, looking stupidly at each other whilst waiting for more and then we looked at towards the S.S. soldier hoping for more!

At that moment, a tumult arose on my left and near the corner closest to me, approaching it I saw there were already some people near.  The S.S. were coming too, swearing like hell now, I kept my distance..."

To be continued ...

Friday, 10 February 2012

Day 46 - "Kanada and Wintershelp"

See Day 1 for Introduction!

"It was the end of April when we set out and now it was the second of May 1944.  Nobody had heard of the hidden extermination camp yet, all this was very much incognito.  Nevertheless, after the war and during this period of time, they showed us aerial views of people standing in queues waiting for their turn in those gas chambers.

Why not bomb the whole place completely - what were the odds for any of us.  After the Jews it was us and anybody under the slightest suspicion and those considered untermensch, they would have made "lebensroum" just for themselves and have enough slaves left over to serve them in turn.
This scheme was far too big and well organized with the other grotesque ideas that they had in mind with the thousand "Reich" solutions to be just for religions, ethnics or their enemies.

The weather at this time was still very humid and cold with waterlogged, flat land.  On our arrival when we had still been with the wagons, which were now well behind us, we had noticed a little sharp church steeple to the north west. some distance away - I later learned that that church was in Birken au Village.  We all noticed that those ghastly buildings had a tall square tapering chimney in each centre, they were not smoking at this time.

We finally came to a halt at a big gate, hell's gate.  Our luggage followed the dead in the front and the living in the middle and behind us the leftovers.  After entering the gate, which was open wide and under close surveillance we were stopped and gradually led into what looked like a sorting building which was long and low called "Kanada".  Numerous, working inmates were rushing around, looking nervous ready to receive their orders from the S.S. standing around en mass, some with dogs.

All our belongings were being sorted and passed along the human assembly line, including that which we had on except for our belts - which for this moment was still a good sign as later we were to be outfitted with other clothes.  The destination for our clothes was "Wintershelp" for the Germans, including the soldiers on the eastern front. 

The Gestapo bureau was a lucrative business and a well oiled enterprise with a lot of the state under its total control, being a state within a state.  No Mafia or other old established order had come as near to this situation, in such a short time span, with so much crime dispatched and displayed, it seemed, with such utter, complete enjoyment!"

To be continued ...

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Day 45 - Auschwitz - Gas Chambers and Crematorium

Scroll to  Day 1 (Blog 1 for Introduction of Louis' story!)

" was the Coup de Grace to finish it off.  Somehow, with all the effort and excitement this seemed to have taken the breath away from the S.S. officer and it appeared that he had enough of it; a pause for us!

The burly, younger, hooligan, S.S. soldiers took over from here and from their corners, mumbled  obscene, blistering ghoulish remarks such as, "Funeral March".   An open van had now arrived with senior inmates and they began gathering the well expected harvest of cut down bodies.  They threw them casually into the van like they were sacks of potatoes - in a very similar way to harvest time done as if this was a usual occurrence.

We were then pushed and bullied around until we formed ranks of five and had to give each other an arm, this made it easier for them to watch us.
After this the march started with the van and victims leading. 

I noticed Janeck just behind me in the next row, a bit too close for safety.  A bully of an S.S. Officer and his mate were marching alongside us now and we were also too near to the front for my liking.  The bulky soldier said to his companion, "I think one is going to break free from here", and he put his hand on his hip ready to pull out his pistol.  Luckily, for us nothing happened!

As we marched down we passed by an electrical barbed wire fence and made our way toward a group of small trees where Carrion Crows were sitting, the crows were  making a din and screeching which reminded me of vultures gathering.  Some, circled around and swooped down in erratic, long, swift glides, croaking and fluttering, making a remarkable spectacle for the approaching column.  No other birds were present in the pale sky and one was aware of an atmosphere of disaster and utter despair all around us!

It was quiet and noiseless.  The column of death kept marching on relentlessly, moving along that muddy dirt ride in Poland.  Coming out of the woods, the first thing we saw in the distance was the foothills of Karpathes.  I started dreaming of reaching those hills at the first opportunity. Still very thirsty and dry now but at the back of my mind was the image of the gruesome reception that the "Welcome Committee" had laid on for us.  At this moment, I got the illusion of babbling, cool, mountain streams around us with dark green meadows that I could drop into and be cajoled into lusty frolicking games.

In the meantime, the S.S. officer and soldier had moved forward, giving Janeck the opportunity to talk -  Janeck now moved closer to me to do so.  On our left and behind the barbed wire fence a couple of weird, grotesque looking buildings appeared, quite large in size.  They were at least thirty to fifty feet long and about twenty five feet wide, these loomed up in our wide eyed view.  One side had barred windows and the other side had small rectangular openings that could be hermatically sealed - the walls looked like they were as thick as a safe.  The side which had the windows also had long bars.

I now said to Janeck, "Is that where we are going to work?"  Janeck who was more with it and up-to-date than I, quickly responded, "Don't be silly, those are gas chambers and crematoriums, all in one system, newly constructed and a maximum of one year old at the most".

As a matter of fact, this was still hard for us to swallow but there it was in all its glory.  It could not be more clear to us now as it unfolded itself perfectly before our open eyes.  Since our arrival, one shock had followed the other in rapid succession, from this one to the next as we kept on marching...

We were still alive less 25 people.  Our mood which was very down now became more and more somber by the minute ...."

To be continued ....

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Day 44 - Murder Incorporated!.

Blog 44 of 44.  See Day 1 for an Introduction.  
Please note that this  page has very disturbing content!

"I was abruptly woken by cries and noise outside, the train coming to a long halt and a sudden stop.  Noise and a tumult of short orders, doors flung open, one after the other, until it came to ours with the shouting and ordering of Ër rausch", (Get Out!) I didn't notice the "Shweinhunden" bit but it must have been there too!  They continuously insulted us now, one gets quickly accustomed to being treated like an animal!  We were total wrecks, unshaven, bewildered, sick, frustrated, indifferent and completely disorientated - that's the way they wanted us to be!

The biggest part of all that was that it had been carefully planned and calculated with what they called, a proficient, German efficiency program.

Murder Incorporated was waiting for us en masse. All sorts of S.S. fighting and political units from the tarterus?, welcoming us with an authentic and theatrical bit of real teutontic? reversed charm.  Who ever amongst us still  had any doubts would find that, within a few seconds, all dreams of compassion would be dashed to pieces.  

The S.S. all had big grins, to compare those grins to hyenas would be an insult to the animals, I think.  Anyway, they were there in full force, ready to begin their lugubrious work as a business.

What transpired now one had to be there to believe it and even then it is hard to comprehend.

Whilst we started gathering and still some being carried out from the wagons, by their mates, I had a quick glance at the enormity of the camp and it's extensions afar from where I stood I couldn't see the end of it from my left side at all.  The security fence appeared to be double barbed with the outer electrified, once in there you were certainly well secured, no expense seemed to have been too much.  I had a quick glance at some of the inmates nearest to us, now.

Women, men, I couldn't see any children.  All dressed up as if ready for an enormous ball or carnival, moving along like zombies, some carrying between them, on long poles, a big barrel dangling in the middle.

It was more than enough to see, the threatening S.S. drew my attention now.  A tall, grinning, skull and crossbones S.S. officer shouted at the wagon occupants to bring out their wounded and half dead near to him and he stood legs spread out on what looked like woodpiles about twenty feet away.  He faced the whole miserable herd in length and breadth of our column as seeming to have descended from Dante's inferno.  He was gesticulating and waving his long arms with a luger in his hand in every direction possible.  

He might as well have had no uniform or flesh on his body, Death itself!

The wounded all very much alive pulled along by the S.S. soldiers and spread out at the officer's feet, some begging, I do not know for what - feeling death too near I suppose!   Now pointing his luger at us in a sinister way, laughing, he then began to shoot the lot of them, twenty to twenty four, one at a time in the head, some in the neck still hysterically laughing more and more now.  When he had finished he just went on laughing again as though he enjoyed the whole thing tremendously...
We just stood there perplexed as though we had arrived in another hell hole, which was another inferno being stoked up for us, beyond any credibility.

A French Officer, a few paces from me, detached himself from us giving us the usual gesture as if he was going to relieve himself but about twenty feet from our end of the column stood an S.S. motorbike.  A German policeman was in between and slightly sideways probably wondering what the Frenchman had in mind at that moment.  The man kept coming on so that the S.S. officer noticed it and screaming loudly to the police officer, he said, "shoot him quickly, he is after my bike". 

At this the policeman shot him in the leg at close range which made the Frenchman tumble in his length backwards; he got up again and now putting his arms up for the surrender sign.  The S.S. officer still storming forward in a rage now, howled to the policeman, "shoot him" and they shot him in the heart.  When he did that, in hesitancy, it was the Coup de Grace to finish it off!

To be continued ...

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Day 43 - For the man who helped my dad on the train!

Blogging my dad's memoirs can be very emotional. During Day 42, when I typed in the part where my dad was feeling ill and he mentions that a fellow prisoner rubbed his stomach to try to help him - I was immediately struck by this unknown man's compassion.  I hope he made it back!  

The Dalai Lama wrote this quote on facebook: 

The human capacity to care for others isn't something trivial or something to be taken for granted.  Rather, it is something we should cherish.  Compassion is a marvel of human nature, a precious inner resource, and the foundation of our well being and the harmony of our societies.  If we feel happiness for ourselves we should practice compassion, and if we seek happiness for others we should also practice compassion.

Scroll to Day 1 for Introduction 
This is Blog 43 of 43!

Day 42 - Schweinhunden - Train ride to the camp!

This is blog 42 of 42!

"As we were now in Germany, the S.S. were assisted by some added German police.  The mad counting and the bigger complement of guards made it look  like a kind of Welcome Society - showing us what they stood for.  An experience never to be forgotten for those who would come back!

Now, the continuous rolling and the terrible stink and mess of our confinement started to take its toll.  Standing like sardines in a tin we had to somehow make room for each other.   Some prisoners most have been lying on each other or sitting between each other's legs.  Also, a place had to be made for people to relieve themselves.  At some stations, when the situation got too bad and after hearing the crying for water, some foreign workers passed in cups of water and in turn we all had a couple of sips from it.  This is what happened in my wagon - I don't know what happened in the other wagons.

One of the old fellows, whom I vaguely recognized from the Bordeaux transport looked at me pitifully, he had a big weeping infected cut on his head and with his eyes wide open told me by look, you were right, we should have escaped en masse when our strength and means were at their best.  I was continually thinking the same thing too.  Things were becoming awfully remote now as the train moved on.  The mention of the word,  "Shweinhunden" (swine herd)! - which I had first heard when the counting took place was far behind us.

What was the next thing in store for us - it didn't take long for us to find out as we kept rolling along.  We heard the waves of aeroplanes overhead and the flak but nothing came near enough to bomb us, which I more than half wished for - never mind the casualties, it would be a chance!

We felt that a bombing would be the best thing that could befall us.  No such luck,  we kept rolling along until we were half-way through Germany.  I figured we must have been somewhere in Prussia by now. We came to a long stop and went backwards until we were out of the way and waiting along a side track.  Indifferent by now, we couldn't have cared less.

The tracks had to be kept free and the dying had to be kept on the train!!!!  When the train started moving again it was eastwards. Through the opening we started noticing names like Leipzig - so most likely the stopover had been Weimer.

I started feeling ill now with stomach cramps.  Damn that sausage, it must  have contained a lot of sodium or something similar - I was also feeling very hungry and had a terrible thirst.  There was only a few people around me still standing up by now taking it in turns to get some space.  One of them started rubbing my stomach to relieve the pain.

After than I fell asleep for a while, an uneasy sleep with dreams of running water from reservoirs over dams and weirs in between containing very nice, clear, cool, fresh water.  My thirst was really becoming a problem more than anything else.

The space in the wagon was minimal and it felt too stuffy to breath properly anymore ...

To be continued ...

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Day 41 - A Special Sausage to Dehydrate Us!

New viewers, scroll down to Day 1 for Introduction/Explanation of this blog.

"We waited the whole night through in a cold brick building just sitting around dozing.  There was a bright full moon and I remember I had a sinus headache with a chill.  The following morning it was better, because from now on one could forget about any treatment or relief.  You just had to grin and bear it, for better or worse, with anticipation of greater suffering more often than not.

After being marched off we were herded back for a repeat performance and pushed into over full goods wagons just off the rail tracks of the station.  It was a very isolated place and we were all given a special sausage which was treated with a chemical to dehydrate us.  We found that out soon after eating it.  The speedy elimination process had started now!

The crush in the wagons was so tight, we had no room to sit down, everything was hermetically closed, no toilets and just before pushing the doors shut on us, like in a big coffin a tall German Officer, S.S., thin and stalky, like a bean stalk, with a face to match it, with the internal self imposed grin; screeched Bon Voyage and with a big gesture slammed the doors on us, drawing and clanging the bolt.  That's exactly how it must feel to go the slaughter house!

The train began to roll steadily along and we quickly got the trap doors open, a little at a time in one corner, for more air, somebody always had a knife and as in our case, pencil and paper.  It was time to drop and pass messages before we came to the border with Germany.  At this point we were all still a bit perky!

It was the twenty sixth of April, 1944.

We figured the transport to be circa at one thousand eight hundred men and we did not have the slightest idea where we were going - "Quo Vadis", one hundred and twenty per wagon, some were bigger wagons than others, nothing to drink or eat - just the terrible sausage, which we soon learned not to touch, some did in desperation, but we all had tried some of it before, of course.

With a bit of luck we managed to get some messages out and with a bit more luck they would be picked up along the way - the train was followed by Resistance members who walked along after any transport.  I believe we were followed all the way by air on our 4 day journey.

Before we crossed the German frontier we were counted with sticks and the bashing team got going at it in great force.  They really let go!  Some prisoners weren't quick enough at jumping out and back and received gashes to their heads that were deep and bled profusely, a real pity to look at
them ............

To be continued ...

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Day 40 - Nacht und Nebel - The Night of the Mist!

"In this manner we carried rolling on until we reached Compiegne.  One might as well say, that all roads seemed to lead to Compiegne instead of to Rome.  The usual groups of young German soldiers were waiting for us and we were escorted by them through town.  The inhabitants were looking on now, for what must have seemed to them to be a common occurence.  There was nowhere for us to run!

Underneath the soldier's formidable helmets and judging by the look in their eyes the indoctrination machine had done its job very thoroughly!  We were the absolute baddies for them and they were definitely the ultimate baddies for us.  This is what total war had brought us to.

After having been inside various places for nine months it was a relief to me to be in open fields and at a higher elevation.  We entered the trial camp where they sorted us out for unknown transportation, most certainly to be to Germany.  We had a look at the situation and realized that we had lost our liberty, which was outside the barbed wire fence.  There was lots of fresh air and water to wash, not too much to eat, even though we were given some work to do.  Meeting old and new acquaintances, it was more like a prisoner of war camp.

At this point, we liked to believe that the allied landings were near to fruition but this was mostly wishful thinking.  By now, we knew that the Germans were tied down on the Eastern Front and in retreat, allied planes flew over us daily on their way to Germany.  The U.S.A. was also now involved in the war.

Some work was handed out regarding the rubble of some buildings that were being demolished.  I noticed the bricks being loaded on the carts of two Polish farmers, pulled by horses, with only two old German guards.  I thought maybe there was a possibility of getting into the cart and getting the inmates to cover me up with old bricks.

My plan was that once out of the gates, after a short span of time, to get out from the rear, when the guards or two drivers weren't looking - as they seemed to be more like two village elders.  I volunteered for it but to my consternation found out that the Polish supervision could not be trusted or at least I thought so.  Tunnelling out was also considered but nobody stayed long enough to start on it or form an escape committee.  One day, a Belgian survivor from Blakenberghe came back with a tale of some escapees from the trains but he said it was sheer slaughter - most of them were killed.

We had arrived in Compiegne on the 1st of April and stayed for one month only, this had given us enough time to pick up and improve our health and clean our clothes.  Once again, we were gathered for transportation, no respite.  The Gestapo then sorted out our respective case numbers, which indicated to which destination we would be going and then marked our numbers on files.  The numbers ranged from one to three next to our names.

We tried to make out the severity of the numbering but as we were all in the same transport we were painted with the same brush, or even worse than that we were branded like cattle.

One of the most famous nominations we came under was "N.N:" or the "Nacht und Nebel" - The Night of the Mist destination or those who had to disappear without a trace". 

Some of the "N.N.",  category prisoners, including my Dad, were believed to be in The Resistance and dangerous....

From Wikipedia:

To be continued ...
On 7 December 1941, SS Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler issued the following instructions to the Gestapo:
“After lengthy consideration, it is the will of the Führer [Hitler] that the measures taken against those who are guilty of offenses against the Reich or against the occupation forces in occupied areas should be altered. The Führer is of the opinion that in such cases penal servitude or even a hard labor sentence for life will be regarded as a sign of weakness. An effective and lasting deterrent can be achieved only by the death penalty or by taking measures which will leave the family and the population uncertain as to the fate of the offender. Deportation to Germany serves this purpose.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Day 39 - Apathy in the train's wagons!

"The beginning of 1943 was not too chilly in the regions of Bordeaux, rather more bearable than our cold, damp north, a slight ground mist in the morning with lots of sunshine to come for the rest of the day.  It didn't look like our great escape would come to be anymore!  Anyone not called up to transport now would maybe gain the fruits of our efforts and have a chance.  The French guards told us that the time was not ripe yet, so I put myself to reasoning that we may never be seen or heard of again and that this would be the last place we would report from; everybody else was in the same mood.

We left our memories on the walls -  like prisoners do, inscribed!  I put the most innocent addresses that wouldn't incriminate anybody while the Germans were still there, so I put my family's addresses in England.  Later the evening, nearly everybody knew that we were due for transport.  The news was that allied landings were imminent so the Germans wanted to get us on our way, far away.  By evening a hell of a racket was heard from all the cells in the whole of the fort in unison, singing and pots banging together.  Then the Germans from the center yard assembled and gave orders over the megaphone that they were going to start shooting; so the din gradually subsided to nothing!

The next morning, we were all called to be to the ready and then cashed off with some meager food distributed just in advance of departure.  Transportation army vans took us all to the station in intervals until we were all gathered up.  The S.S. were in the rear wagons with soldiers, collaborators and lots of plain clothes police, all heavily armed.  Our inquisitor - Gestapo - was there too, the strong one!  When the convoy was complete we were all pushed into the goods wagons, the two end spaces left for us and the middle section reserved for two soldiers with a sergeant.  The sliding doors were left open, no facilities, no absolutions, the sections were divided by strings.  In this manner we departed from Bordeaux.

The only chance I saw for possible escape was when we passed the big river Gironde on a high bridge.  The train was rolling steadily along the pilions but they came too quick in succession to be able to make a jump for it from under the strings and into the tempting water that we could see far below us.
With the help of a Belgian pilot from Leige, called Allard, we tried to persuade some of the others to make a break for it in unison.  Jumping the guards, in the wagon could be easily done before the guards could draw their weapons.
Machine guns covered both sides, Allard and I both volunteered to unhook the wagons at the rear; we soon found out that this was not possible!  The mixed sections formed a very assorted crowd, old ones, some tortured to the point of incapability but most of all the majority were apathetic to such action.

The majority of those people would not come back from this journey, neither would Allard.  After the war, I saw his photo displayed in one of those big multiple panels for the missing.  The Gestapo had thought of everything including all the most possible ways and means of escape!  The long journey went on for a good way until the S.S. and Gestapo thought it was time for a relief stop somewhere in a field, strategically situated to shoot any would be escapees. At this point, my inquisitor was keeping a watchful eye on me.  I was, indeed, looking for a chance to escape underneath the wheels and a bit further away from the crowds - I could see the open fields now!

To reach the coverage of the trees was too much of a run, so I took my trousers off and showed what I thought of it all to my Gestapo man!  I cannot judge his immediate reaction to that but I thought he displayed a slight human kind of smile.  I also knew he was an excellent, well trained shot, my logic told me that.  My intuition also told me to wait for a better opportunity than this one.  I couldn't trust my Gestapo man's misleading reactions at all!

When this episode was over, Allard and I tried to study the trap windows in the corner under the cover of our inmates - we had a knife to work at it.  It was a bit high and had to be done with the advantage of darkness and silently too.  The plan was to drop at the other side, the speed and nearness of the wheels would almost certainly draw you in underneath them!  Nothing came of this attempt , the drop was too high, close and awkward".

To be continued ...

Day 38 - Tell the World Please!

Piece written by my Dad and found with his memoirs as a loose sheet of paper.  I bolded To Each His Own which was the title of my Dad's memoirs.  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