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Thursday, 31 May 2012

Day 90 - 9th February, 1945 - No trains at Buchenwald!

Janeck's friend had started a love affair, with a German girl, which was very well know to all of us and also successful - the Germans close by liked it.  We all seemed to idolize and support the secret romance as well as helped to protect the smooth running of the affair.  Sometimes, during the alarms, they had long moments by themselves.  The alarms were occurring more frequently than at any other time!

One day, we had stayed out much longer than the usual time.  We passed along a river with a big ridge rising just behind us.  A short distance away from me, I now noticed two very fit, S.S. with an amphibious "Volkswagon, with great concentration and very laboriously they seemed to be putting something down near to the fence.  They then drove quickly away in an awful hurry

The next day, the same alarm occurred again and lingered on too!  This was the 9th of February, 1945.  It was a clear and beautifully sunny, day, a bit chilly that was all but very dry and we were enjoying our outing!

All of us were now standing in a group and talking together.  Suddenly, from behind the ridge, on an average attacking altitude, "the super fortresses", appeared in full formation!  This was the big prelude to the usual frontal assault.

The planes were now throwing down their smoke tracers, in various colors and at a steep angle. We just saw the released bombs awkwardly beginning to drop out of the opened bays.  After this there was a draft and a terrible noise - we then realized that they were coming straight for us!

Holy Mackerel!!!!!  We just about had enough time left to run and jump quickly behind the parapet bordering the river before the impact hit the ground just where we had been standing moments ago!  The mud and stones were falling all over us now and into the river.  One very sharp stone piercing my cranium with blood spurting out and down my face -  it was a small, sharp, deep cut as if by an arrow ahead.

Around the edge of the nearest enormous crater was one of my mates laying without any movement, he was just behind the turned over edge.  We felt for sure, that he was dead!  Suddenly, he woke up and rose up, as if from the grave and joined us, smiling.  If ever I saw a Zombie like creature it was him!!! Maybe, everything had just passed over him.  He was one of the surviving carpenters and builders left behind in Buchenwald.

The Angel of protection or the crossing of the Red Sea, in small doses, was happening to quite a few of us, or we liked to think so, for our own sake.  Otherwise, the dividing line was very thinly strung.  When would all of this stop - we had just about had enough of it all by this time!

The landscape had changed into a real mess, the earth was overturned and poles and ruins were left behind with all kinds of debris being strewn about! The debris was all mixed up, making it look as if a tornado and earthquake had just struck as well as a battle had just happened!   Everything raged in one hell of a havoc - a complete chaos!!

We had no intention of returning to the center as the sounds of heavy planes kept on and on!   Turning around now, to see if there was anything worthwhile left - we noticed that our guards had had enough of it as well.  Everybody had just walked away!

It was a pity that there were no trains available at such a moment!  They were either out of service, hiding or destroyed.

To be continued ...........

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Day 89 - The Twilight Zone for my dad at Buchenwald!

"While I was ill but still fully conscious I was in a trance like state.  What they called the twilight zone, the ethereal, not quite the astral when one leaves the body but maybe I was just before that stage.  Light came in at me and I felt oversensitive to presences that I could clearly see and hear around me.  

One night, late in the evening, it seemed to me that by force I was made to get up from my bunk.  A night guard was on duty and was standing outside the dormitory.  I saw a person enter and put something in the bin.  I saw it clearly from inside and in between the artificial light zone.  A person who I recognized as having been killed the previous day by the Yugoslavs - a traitor for Micheaelovitz, Tito's partisans they were!!!!

None of us interfered in the affairs of other groups within the camp - their affairs were for them alone to deal with. The unhappy spirit that he may have been appeared to me to have come back as clearly as if he was there in reality.  Possibly, I thought, he was bothered about something he had left undone.  Maybe he was there to help me in my troubles. Possibly he was innocent of the crime!!!

I now went to the guard in the ante room, which was our communal dining hall and asked him if he had seen anybody enter - he said he had seen nobody and anybody entering would have had to have passed by him! 
Possibly, I had been hallucinating due to my illness!  I felt like I had participated in a conversation with the deceased on a variety of subjects including when the war would end. 

I now felt as if pressure was rising to a high level all around me.  I could also hear rattling and hissing noises.  It seemed to me that the awful din I was hearing was coming from behind the door of the dormitory.  I now threw open the door to quell the noise and some of the elders appeared and tried to subdue me - to the extent that one of them stabbed me with a sharp object in my neck.

They couldn't hold me at all now.  I mentioned the noises but the elders said they couldn't hear any noises and didn't understand what I was saying!!!!
I then proceeded to follow the noise that only I seemed to be hearing and went straight to the bunk where, Jose De Wever, the Belgian dentist, was fast asleep at the top of the three rows in his bunk.

To relieve whatever was bothering me, I now felt that I had to climb the bunk and touch De Wever.  The elders were probably thinking that my fever was making me crazy!  I now wanted to solve the problem connected with the German criminal with who I had previously disagreed and whom we suspected of being a "ferret".  At this point, I believed that he knew too much about us and was going to give all of us away and that we needed out of the ordinary help to deal with the situation.

Anyway, as I touched De Wever the whole effect left me and I relaxed, it was done, my peace of mind returned.

The following morning they caught the culprit and I never saw him again!  The fever had left me now but I was still a bit wobbly.  Later, someone told me that the "ferret", had managed to change his triangle and had infiltrated into our section and that Jose De Wever had done all the investigation.

Soon after my illness, I returned to the garage in Weimer but the impetus for my escape had somehow been taken away from me!  I remained at Buchenwald, maybe for the better.................."

To be continued ....

Friday, 25 May 2012

Day 88 - The last transport at Buchenwald from Auschwitz and the Russian advance!

Please Note:

You may not want to read this particular blog if you had relatives who died in Auschwitz or Buchenwald concentration camps or any other camp!

"One day, the German criminal and I, had a disagreement about our places at the table and he threatened me.  Soon after this unhappy incident he accused me of stealing bread from my fellow prisoners.  It seemed to me that, in a moment of spiteful anger, he was going to get even with me about the earlier disagreement!  It had now become a very personal conflict and was quickly  beginning to look like an enraged passion play!

He appeared to be very irritated and I thought perhaps this was due to my reaction at his provocation.  Later, we found out that he was a suspected "ferret".  In his eagerness to frame me he had placed my hat near the cupboard where the bread was missing.  The inference, of course, was that I was the culprit - it was too obvious to be true!

Meanwhile, the group now proceeded to set a trap for the rat that he was - it was much better done than what I could have managed as I was still under stress.  The worry and trouble over this incident took over my plan of escaping and I had also caught a virus at the same time.  I started feeling very sick with a high temperature - I had caught typhoid fever.  Probably after having climbed over the dead and dying who had recently arrived from Auschwitz.  

These prisoners had been quickly assembled on a last transport due to the imminent and rapid Russian advance.  A "foregone conclusion".  These poor  human survivors just came in and expired at Buchenwald.  Their conditions were appalling -  they were dying and lying in their own excrement in specially fenced off areas.  The Germans were afraid to catch the diseases too; typhus, disentry and diarhroea.

Well, I guess I had caught the lot, what a moment!  They all thought I was a goner - I was delirious and spiritually I was now far away from worldly  surroundings... "

To be continued ...

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Day 87 - Polish and Russian Connection at Buchenwald!

One day, in the kitchen, a very young, Polish chap, who just happened to be a friend of my friend, Janeck was in charge and also the go-between with the local police, the camp S.S. and the prisoners.  There were also foreign workers present, girls and women who were doing the cooking, all the time!  They  were from the Eastern lands, mostly Poland and Bylo-Russia??.

Our Polish connection and charge hand arranged everything from obtaining bread to getting potatoes and vegetables.  During the bread run, he would have us organized like a chain gang.

From the cart outside, we would get the single loaves and pass them along the line, turning the stairs and then putting them on the shelves in the cellars below.  We would then have to quickly remove one from each shelf to replace the previous days one.

All this was done while the guard were still counting the loaves.  The guards could never follow all of us at once when it came to carrying the heavy baskets inside.  When we were lucky, we were able to throw one or two loaves behind the door before the guards noticed.

Everything was done so fast, with him quickly passing the guards at lightening speed and on a single command, us responding as he passed by us.  We were never short of bread with him!  Under our coats it went to take into the camp to share with our comrades in the block, first come first served!  This helped the whole situation while I was busily working on my getaway!

A bit further on from us was a hill or rather curving ramp, with a slope running just above us.  At this point, the trains arriving and leaving from the other points westward would slow down just enough to enable me to jump on!  Being a fast runner, I would be able to make the jump if running at a good speed and pace - I was a bit off form and weaker now but still good enough.

We were now going out during the bomb alarms!  The camp elders did not have to encourage me too much to make my escape.  They knew I would take my opportunity with a bit of calculation and at the most opportune moment.

I now got to know a lot of the new arrivals - especially the block in which Antonio was in - he was Jewish and became a very good friend of mine.  His father turned up a bit later.  They were former, Spanish refugees, from the Civil War who had been residing in Brussels in exile. 

Antonio had been involved in running the blockade over and back to Spain with different businesses involved - about which he had kept very silent.  His involvement in the war effort had formed an integral part of our set-up as well as for the allied intelligence.

I believe he was "Cato", code name for Spanish Operator from Catalonia - he had initially presented himself to the British Embassy in Madrid and been refused.  His father was a mayor in one of the suburbs of Barcelona.  After the British had refused him he had offered his services to other intelligence organizations and than gone back to the British,  giving false information to the Nazi's!

Camuz", was Russian intelligence and Wing Commander, Yeo Thomas, British Intelligence.  Wing Commander Yeo Thomas' code was "Nathan" in Buchenwald.  A Belgian dentist, Mr. De Wever,  "White Brigade",  from Antwerp looked after me in my block.

At this point, a German criminal, who had steadily infiltrated in the camp, tried to accuse me of stealing bread from fellow prisoners so it was especially good that I had Mr. De Wever on my side ...............................

Monday, 21 May 2012

Day 86 - The VonRunstedt Attack Plan!

"The year was quickly coming to an end for all of us and with the rapidly moving passage of time came a lot of happenings and changes.  At about this time, the weather before our early morning commando was becoming very nippy.

One morning, a new jet fighter zoomed noisily over our heads - we thought it was something from another world.  It was too noisy and speedy for us to make anything of it but the noise and speed spoke for itself.  I would say we barely got a glimpse!!!!! Just like Auschwitz,  we didn't always have to see exactly what was happening to know what was happening - it was there alright !!!!!!

I had now been reassigned to the police college for the rehabilitation of S.S. invalids.  Some of the people had limbs missing and others had come from the front after becoming handicapped.   I was now helping with the cleaning of the classrooms, kitchen and store rooms.

One day, after a particular lecture, I witnessed some of the S.S. invalids studying new strategies!  On this occasion, I saw plans pertaining to a particular goal, The VonRunstedt Attack Plan  - it was drawn in chalk on the blackboard.............

To be continued ...  

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Day 85 - Still on Buchenwald's Extermination List!

"Our extermination was still on their priority list.  The Resistance insisted on arms being dropped by our Allies as their armies were now getting closer and closer to us every day.  Regarding our survival at the end, we didn't trust the intentions of the S.S.if it came to the crunch so we needed to be armed!

Our aim was to expand and hang on as long as we could with the few weapons we had at our disposal.  The hope was that we would be able to hold out until the Allied armies could come to our rescue.  By now, most of our former transports were sadly depleted to a ridiculous level.  The assembly of the considerable number of transports still left would be difficult for us to handle if it came to it!

In addition, it would be a mammoth task to entice many of the prisoners to become involved in a revolt within the camp.  In fact, it  probably could only be accomplished if the people involved in the camp resistance would agree to openly and fully commit themselves. Our hope now was that, if necessary, determined leadership would bring our plan to fruition.

Eventually, through the camp resistance, I was transferred to Weimer Police Garage on transport in order to hopefully make a quick getaway!  I was briefed on how and what to do in order to have a chance at saving myself by working at the garage!

Someone at the garage had been designated to look after me and help me out.  Fortunately, during my past experience at the technical school, I had gained a little bit of knowledge of welding and had some mechanical aptitude - hopefully everything would work out for me given a chance!

I was now convinced that many of our leaders were secretly involved with, 
The Masons. While I was at the garage, I came to realize that many of the people involved with me and my potential escape were becoming more and more nervous and found the idea of helping me too risky - they were worried that somebody in the "shop", may give them away.

The German Police Officer in charge of the garage, a friendly man, tried to get me into the "Veruretun Ban"!? the police headquarters used as a rehabilitation cente for wounded S.S..

Every night now, Weimer was being bombed.  When we would arrived for work in the morning we were greeted by the watchful eyes of the security guards and their dogs.  The look of the town was changing after each bombing raid!  By now, parachuted mines had knocked whole rows of houses away causing devastation and demoralization of the local people......"

Friday, 18 May 2012

Day 84 - Blogger piece on Holocaust Denial!

My uncle was one of the soldiers who had the awful experience of seeing the horrors of the concentration camps after they were liberated.
Holocaust denial is only beginning to really take ground because the eyewitnesses are dying off.
The full implications of what happened in the holocaust must be faced, not denied.
The reasons it happened, the sickness of mind that drives people to single out a people group and decide that they are no longer human, needs to be understood and seen for the evil that it is.
Even if you can somehow show that isolated photographs and certain names or even locations are not quite correct in there detail, it is absolutely no reason for trying to establish a case for saying that the overwhelming mass of eyewitness accounts and day to day administration and military documentation, is false.
Holocaust denial should be recognized as a crime because it ultimately connects to the kind of ideology that made the holocaust possible in the first place.
Comment by whitbyjblog — November 3, 2010 @ 5:33 am

Day 83 - Copy of a letter my Dad was allowed to send home!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Day 82 - A stone monument at Buchenwald

"We managed to get hold of some Special Hostage Letters or "schultzhaffling. I think they were supposed to be used for the musicians - through using these letters I managed to send news home and even asked for a few underclothes and a pair of leather shoes.

Caniuz, a Belgian member of our Resistance Group, organized the whole thing  as well as translating my letter into perfect German.  I think he owned a company or bookstore in Belgium.  If one were to ask for too much in the letter it probably would not pass the censor - you could definitely not ask for food.  The clothes would pass the censors on the premise that they were going to be used for some type of gymnastics - the shoes would be a bonus if I could get them for this "holiday camp"!!!

I couldn't believe my eyes when I received a reply, together with a new pair of leather shoes.  My family were now aware that I was still alive and had proof of where I was located - that was the big bonus!  For many of my fallen friends, their parents would not even know where their children had died.  It would be an awful job to have to tell them how they had spent their last moments.

I am now remembering one such story of a good Belgian friend of mine - his story would be very hard for me to tell when I got home.   One evening, on my return from a commando, my friend continuously kept asking me how things were going and what the news was, these were pretty common remarks!  He also asked me when I thought the war would end - I responded with a short, snappy, August 23rd.   I think I was snappy due to stress and the rapid aging process I had been undergoing since being in the camp!

My friend now looked at me with such a pitiful and pleading look, as if I shouldn't have said so.  Such a damned glance - with all the sorrows of the world embedded into it.  

After he had asked me the questions I was silent for a couple of minutes and kept to myself but afterwards said I was sorry.  This was the same day he was killed during the bombing at Steinbruck.   I had foreseen his end.

My friend had been a late arrival at Buchenwald but had still been directed to do hard labor in the quarry.  On the day of the bombing, the S.S. building had remained intact but one wave had fallen in front of it and the other wave had gone past moving right into the quarry.

Real havoc was caused as the wave rolled on - it seemed like it was playing billiards with the rocks and boulders.  By now, its momentum  had doubled which had a big effect on the prisoners in the quarry. Of course, my friend and the other prisoners had no chance of escape.  

Steinbruck had become a grave for many prisoners.  The quarry at Buchenwald had become my friend's destiny and stone monument.

With Allied help,  we had succeeded in getting Buchenwald bombed but my potential escape was not yet over.  I was now ready and The Resistance  wanted to help get me away!

Soon after the bombing I got put back into going on commandos and lost track of "Valkenhof...........

To be continued ...

Monday, 14 May 2012

Day 81 - Shulzhaffling or special hostage letters!

One day, I was watching an S.S. column moving towards the far corner of the fence.  Suddenly, a lone Allied plane approached us as if from nowhere - probably looking for something worthwhile to hit!  He must have come from the coastal area and been scanning these wild parts.  He now quickly dropped a couple of bombs damaging the fence.  At this point, the S.S. were nowhere to be seen - it was as if they had disappeared into thin air!

No prisoner had ever been seen in that corner of the camp.  At this point, the temptation to make an escape was great as it appeared to be a good spot from which to make a quick getaway.  However, I decided not to do anything and after this incident, the two criminals or "greens", found me coming out of the block hut, a bit higher up than when they had last seen me and now covered in fodder - they found this very amusing!

The time of arrival of prisoners at Buchenwald obviously had a big impact on their rate of survival.  In the month of August, a couple of new arrivals from my home town of Ostend had just been caught in the bombings.  Both were members of the White Brigade in Belgium.  One of them was a well known goalkeeper and the other one his mate.

The former goalkeeper had been wounded by shrapnel during the bombings.  He had also risked the run towards the S.S. barricade, located in the bushes and in the process had been shot.  His situation was very similar to when I had been shot by the S.S., the bullet had passed his hip bone and luckily was just a flesh wound.

In comparison to me, he had been a relative newcomer to the camp.  Consequently, his wound had healed much more quickly than mine, very likely because I had been in camps for a much longer time and was therefore very much more under-nourished and so it took longer for my wound to heal.

It was at this time that we laid our hands on special hostage letters or "shultzhaffling".....

To be continued ....

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Day 80 - Buchenwald's Watchtowers!

One day, the greens were watching me as I got the barrels from behind the kitchen and loaded them onto a small cart.  Two S.S., were passing by and told them to give me a hand - they looked at their different badges and made sure that they did help me!  The green's didn't take too kindly to that!

We now arrived at the pen to feed the boars.  The scenery all around was like a setting from the Wild West in which to tame wild horses.  Southwards, towards Erfurt was a beautiful view overlooking the big, open countryside.

I was now told to climb over the wooden fence to the animal's troughs or feed boxes and fill them to the brim.  I had to do this in between the constant charges of the wild boars, who seemed to be enjoying the game.  After filling the buckets from the barrels the criminals or greens continued to pass the buckets to me and seemed to be enjoying the situation too.

Those animals had very sharp, protruding horns and appeared to take pleasure in running after each other after going around the entire circle.  To everybody's delight, each time, I would just have enough time for a quick glance and a chance to jump over the fence.

Eventually, I managed to get the last damned box filled up but by now was panting for breath.  After that, we had lunch in a nice cozy, log cabin and told stories to each other.  Why didn't we escape from that corner?
Easier said than done!

The new, young, S.S. recruits were constantly training in those bushes and a bit further on.  The watchtowers, that were also in view, kept a close eye on us too.  One must not forget that the watchtowers were a bit like fortresses. They were on their own and constantly manned by three S.S., on three shifts - so we were being observed all the time.

As previously pointed out, there were also guards being trained and patrol dogs going around the fence - our chances therefore were very slim.  In an emergency, the Tank Corps Panser Grenadiers, stationed below the hill, near Weimer, could place a cordon around the base.  There were also farms in the vicinity with their Home Guards with dogs.  The chance of an escape attempt succeeding were about one in a thousand -  so hardly worth the effort!

To be continued ...

Day 79 - The animals were fed better than us and German Greens!!

"In between the long rolls calls that we now had to experience people kept collapsing!  I listened to some of the other groups around us and one of them was a German religious sect from the latest Jehovah Witnesses - of whom I knew very little.

Most of them seemed to be offspring from the old Hutties from Sudatenland! and Bohemia who had lived with the Jehovah Witness concept for a long time!  Their faith and endurance was strong and persistent.  They were stoic people and had suffered extreme cruelty from the beginning under the Nazis.  They had metered out punishment to try and make them change their minds.  Their treatment was just as bad as ours and by now their numbers had been enormously depleted.

At this moment, they were busy lecturing among themselves and the resulting conclusion was that despotism was due to the three organized evil forces ruling the earth namely; politics, religion and business.  In other words, absolute power, expedient hypocrisy and unlimited greed. 

They believed that these three forces concentrated on opposing all that stood for good and enlightened behavior! They refused to fight for anything!  They believed that, The Lord or us had to do the fighting for them - very difficult for me to comprehend but their faith was constant.  I find these sects to be parasites but believe the study of the word does good.  Everybody was doing the fighting for them!

If nothing is done about cleaning the total corruption and degeneration, as in the balance of nature, then who does?  All this has to be done for progress and survival.  Anyway, their prophetic message was beware of the three forces against you.

For any future enterprise in my life these people would always have a very strong influence and remain with my thinking, more often than not, until I got further enlightenment.  Nobody took them very seriously and it takes all kinds to make a world.

Snow and sleet were the pattern of our days and nights now and we were glad to get some sleep and rest when we returned from those long roll calls.  Janeck said he would find something better for me to do through his group organization and he did!  I got picked for commando, "Valkenhof" which involved looking after the deer, boar and falcons.

The park was outside the fence and run by two German green's, or criminal youngsters, of whom I didn't know anything at all - they were not Capo's or anything but had this job for themselves alone!

The animals were better fed than us!  Whatever was for them we had our fill of as well.  Sometimes we ate before the animals or on the side or at the end.  This was a rice custard in porridge left over from the elite S.S. tables.  The other food was offal from the S.S. kitchens and quite alright.  The criminals were used to getting the extra's and smuggled the stuff in to the Polish barracks were Janeck was..........."

To be continued ...

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Day 78 - Wing Commander Yeo Thomas, S.A.S.

"The fact was that, "The Camp", was very much in control of everything and Wing Commander Yeo Thomas did not have any more power over decisions than the rest of us.

Despite having rank within the S.A.S., he possessed a very flimsy authority in the camp and could not save any more of his buddies than we could save ours!  No ordinary man in the camp possessed that kind of authority.  In addition, at this point, many of the inmates were more like cabbages than anything else and if summoned to do so could not escape the death transports or anything else for that matter.....!

The Commandent, was now using all kinds of ruses over the loud speaker - trying to get as many inmates on the death transports as he possibly could - this was very likely to offset the pressure in the camp and shoot them down more easily later.

At that time, using any kind of weapons would have resulted in what would have been a massive suicide for us.  The Allies were too far way to be of any help and the Nazi's were still very strong.  Therefore, the suggestion made by, Major Yeo Thomas, that we use our weapons probably would  have made our general position even worse than it already was........!

In addition, we were still very much divided and it could have created an abominable state of armed suicide.  With the weapons at hand, we probably could have made a go of it but the S.S. would have been able to pick us off very easily.

The action that Wing Commander Yeo Thomas had suggested was very typical of S.A.S. types.   I admired his courage for suggesting that we take action using the weapons because that is the way I often felt myself.  There was definitely support among us even though we hardly knew each other. 

However, the situation was still such that The Underground Movement made all the decisions not us! Churchill and our Allies had probably made the right decision in view of the circumstances.

As you can imagine, for many of us, the decision not to take action was very disappointing - most of us felt very let down!  I now felt that forgiving and accepting the facts was more useful than making silly accusations -  jumping at each others throats would serve no purpose.

"I now ask that an evaluation of the facts, in relation to the epic movie that was made about Buchenwald, be conducted.  I feel that this is important in order to put the historical context of the events into their proper perspective and not the perspective of a few individuals who were not present at the time.  This should be done in memory of the men and women who made such great sacrifices within our camp - It is Never too Late!

We cannot judge history on the statements of a few individuals....!"

To be continued ....

Today, is May 10, 2012, my Dad would have been 89 years old today!  What a trooper.  My Hero for sure!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Day 77 - "The last public hanging at Buchenwald"

"This was also the last time the gallows would be brought out for a public hanging.  Public hangings were used as an example for us all; in case we should think of trying an escape.

We had to watch the hangings for a couple of hours while the music played and the fellow, a Russian or Polish, I think, were slowly hung up and left to die.  Everybody was compelled to look upon it during that time.

His executioner, an S.S., would give a speech about daring to escape and that was it!  I always thought that there were two that I saw but from where I stood I had a rather awkward view and what with moving about, the helpers and the posts, my view from the distance was somewhat impeded.

Winter went by with snow and freezing temperatures and I had the only woman's fur coat in the camp.  It kept me decently warm, it was a bit thin and worn out but kept the freezing wind out very well.  It also covered up my escape outfit.  My hair was nearly normal now, no brush cut to spoil the effect!

The winter was made harder by the long roll calls.  We had to be counted and recounted until late into the night - they always found mistakes to be dealt with unless the S.S. was a slow poke.  We all quickly came to the conclusion that the long roll calls were a direct result of sour grapes on their part because of all the set backs they now had to face.

All of their fronts were now crumbling - even the home front!  However, they probably felt the need to preserve their institutions as long as they could and we were the shield in front of them.  That was the intended finale; to use us as human shields, our sole hope was to get and receive help from our Allies.

Churchill had refused the arms drop we had asked for in return for the destruction of the secret arsenal.  We thought that this would have given us the chance of getting the equalizer for which we had hoped.  It was believed that   Churchill would not give us what we wanted because of potential reprisals against the other camps...

Wing Commander Yeo Thomas had his reservations too!  He had been saved by the Camp Resistance (very much like myself), for its uses.  That is how he escaped death at the hands of the Gestapo and Nazis, not otherwise as the film suggested from the death transport.....

To be continued ...

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Day 76 - Peenemunde - foreshadowing Hitler's downfall!

I recently discovered that the number I have been quoting as my Dad's Buchenwald number is incorrect.  My brother and I were relying on our memories of the number branded on my Dad's arm - it seems that neither of us were correct!   The number on his arm was allocated at Auschwitz and also slightly different from the number I have been quoting!!!!!  At this point, I am leaving the blog with the incorrect number. Somehow!!!Day 51 is in the wrong spot in the blog - sorry about that!

"A combination of planned and unplanned actions now came into play which helped hasten the downfall of Hitler.  The information that had recently been passed on to us was essential intelligence in relation to the V2's and V3's as well as the military installations for jet planes down in the valley.  There were enough weapons to have a ball.  "Peenemunde" was a baby in comparison.  Nevertheless, it was only Peenemunde that was ever mentioned out of it all!!!

Like most other concentration camps, Buchenwald is only known for its atrocities - no recommendations for the actions and deeds mentioned in this narration, which I believe were of the greatest importance to the overall cause.

The question, of course, why destroy a fifty thousand pound epic when you could combine two epics without losing any credibility and at the same time please an intelligent audience with a masterpiece!

If you have to squash or destroy a good film after the war in the process of something that is very wrong or else given credit to other nations or nations of other peoples, besides your own, is that it!  A further course of events would explain what I have just written, my writing is just like Buchenwald which had a veil hanging over it!!!!

My further explorations now found me caught in the underground tunnels near the V2's and it was here that I now met with what appeared to be another member of the S.S. - this time I had a completely different experience from what I had encountered when I had been beaten for another infraction.  This man was completely different in character - the contrast was so great that I was left wondering whether he was one of us or just monitoring the place after the bombing.  

It seemed to me that he was trying to hide just as much as I was!!  Possibly he could have been disguised as an S.S. and not concerned about me or what I was doing down there at all!  He had the character of a gentleman, with class, and appeared to be genuinely concerned about my welfare.  He advised me that it would be better for me not to hide down there and left me unscathed - I never saw him again after that either!

S.O.S. were operating on the inside now, taken from emigrant settlers from the U.S.A., with German origins.  Anyway, no further communications with me were tried - the incident I had experienced in the underground tunnels appeared to be purely coincidental in nature! 

If the man in the tunnel had been an S.S. officer things were really on the turn.  However, their blend was such that they could hardly change based on their oaths and so called honors of the new knights class.  To me, he didn't seem to belong to the lower echelons or brutal bullies we knew but appeared to be an aristocratic in his bearing!!!

In the camp events were rapidly changing now.  Criminals were completely eradicated from our ranks and the "politicals" were taking over to be Capos."

To be continued ...

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Day 51 - A camp within a camp and timelessness!

See Day 1 (Blog 1) for introduction!

"There was still no drinking water so most of us drank of the dirty pools on the earthern floor with dire results to follow.  I abstained and found myself a place against the back of another fellow and alternatively against a wooden panel.  People started dropping downwards again and making room in this way.

I put one sole under my buttocks, the other under my feet.  In this way, I took some naps in the long and eventful night that followed.  First, I was rudely awakened by a couple of shots, some of our fellows got shot for daring to go outside for starters! That was out of bounds.

Later in the night, we heard muffled voices and shovelling and we couldn't make out why,  we weren't allowed to see anything, you see - we were always left completely in the dark.

The morning of another day arrived and we were allowed to go out into the early morning dew to the pit, managing for what we had to do!  The two shot bodies of our comrades were placed next to the pit to be hauled away.

When the food came around, which judging by the sunlight, was about nine, which I am afraid I cannot prove either, not having an instrument amongst us to give us a measure of time, I say all this as a matter of fact.  Sometimes, a machine made by man and programmed to his conceptions is more believed than man himself.

This again, seems to me, to be especially the case today.  I have noticed that many of the disbelievers of what happened in the camps have a special attraction to machines programmed to man's conceptions.  It is something they can see and therefore they justify their arguments through technology which I have observed with utter amazement but not disbelief like them! 

A knowledge of time was forgotten, somehow, by us, the soldiers had watches but it was safer to keeps ones distance from them.

After the bodies had been removed and the soldiers had left - don't forget we were a camp within a camp, we noticed and found ourselves inbetween barbed wire on the inside of an electrical fence.

The food was atrocious but we ate it eagerly, just a bowl with a glue-like, jelly-like substance holding the cabbage and some seeds together - I think it was some rye.  No utensils of course, a little bread was provided and we managed to pick the food up with the bread and slurped down the rest like animals do.

That was the idea, we were reduced or rather brought down to that
level ........ "

There is enough material in my Dad's memoirs for me to continue this blog for many more months!  I will also include official camp papers and other material that my Dad kept  from the war in the next few months!

Day 75 - D.O.R.A. "Deutshe Oberlander Rochetten Aktiengesel-shate!

One day a French pilot and other prisoners that I had known from a previous transport arrived at the camp.  Most of them died from tuberculosis shortly afterwards but from this group we learned all about D.O.R.A or The German Oberlander Rockets Company.  It was, of course, a long distance ballistic missile, enormous in size, that could maybe reach as far as London or New York - wherever its final destination was it could cause a lot of destruction and had to be stopped.

This was our pigeon and was our highest priority.  All our efforts and secrets would be in service to the destruction of this project.  The French pilot told us how they had to work day and night in the most appalling conditions to fulfill this program.  They had to participate in making tunnels in a very primitive way, the machinery was completely inadequate for the tasks they had to perform.  He said they worked almost non-stop inside a long ridge, dying and dropping down like flies.  They worked above and below ground walking miles to do the burrowing like the moles from their camp!

A lot of experts were brought in once the silo was up and the gigantic rocket started to take shape like a big monster; can you imagine an atomic bomb in this nose cone or even enough explosives to enable the missile to reach as far as New York!  What destruction that contraption could have caused.

Maybe, they couldn't exactly hit Times Square but they could hit New York from anywhere - at this point they had the capacity but not time which was running out very quickly.

The boycott and the messenger would have to go out very fast for this project so that the Allies could annihilate it with V2'S.

To be continued ...

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Day 74 - Ranken-Revier ( First Aid Barracks) and V2's!

It came to pass that the hiding place for everything was under the chair, desk and floor of the S.S. doctor, a Bavarian in the "Ranken-Revier", the small row of first aid barracks stretched alongside near the fence on the left side on entering the camp.

The doctor had been playing a double role all along; from sending us on death transports to participating in single and multiple murders.  He was as culpable as any other S.S. and at the same time tried to save his own skin.  He had been taken into complete confidence by the camp elders, the all German seniors.  I don't know exactly when but I do know it was before my entry into Buchenwald.

The radio must have been there all along too and I can honestly say that most of us didn't know about it.  We couldn't even look the fellow straight in the eyes - it was best we didn't know him at all and vice versa but it is certain that quite a few prisoners were saved from the worst transports by his intervention.

After all the events that had just occurred, as before, we kept to our Commando's again. For a time, we held our respective old positions and collected screws and bolts to pile in heaps, moved bricks and planks back and forward and sometimes went to sit, for a while, on unexploded bombs to be left alone or have a tranquil rest.

Tom Mix continued to play homage to his nickname while doing his rounds with his whiplash.   One day, we noticed, a proud S.S., now walking past the smoldering covers of the Jewish shoes stacked up on the road.  At this moment, everything around us was just getting revived by a breeze which was just reaching an incendiary stick still hidden in the damp earth.  The incendiary stick suddenly went off!

The proud S.S. guard walking in front of us went flat in the mud right in front of us and his pride went flat too.  As he was aware of our presence we went deeper into the bomb pits - all he could do was try to gather himself together.

Suddenly, we heard the gradual noise of shouting and the hollow sound of prisoners hammering on anything they could see to warn us of danger.

It was Tom Mix in all his glory, he had unexpectedly disappeared in front of us and fallen crosswise, now stuck firmly and wedged in an open crevasse not too far from our position.  Nobody dared to go anywhere near him!  He had managed to get his luger loose and screamed the more for it, announcing, "Vervloechte Franszosen, all French for us too.  The row of bullets were for them and the last one was for himself - if it came to it!

He kept us at bay as he was drunk and likely afraid as he was in a very  awkward position.   He eventually got out without help!  In the evening, after his laughable debacle, he was again, wielding his whip before the signal came for stopping and entering the camp.  After a while, we got used to his capers although he was still very dangerous and to be taken very seriously, better safe than sorry!

As winter approached we managed to gather enough planks from the debris to make fires -  nobody stopped us anymore.  One day, I had the opportunity to have a good warm up and explore into the ruins and places never seen before - so secret were they!  I now came to a big heap, emitting a lot of simmering heat and so had a good warm up, turning my body on all sides to get the best of the warmth. 

While I was doing this my eyes noticed giant cylinders laying flat on the ground and I started to count them.  As I was counting some inmates from this department told me that there were eight obsolete and useless rockets without parts to complete their assembly.  Also, that the transportation had been completely disrupted.

When repairs had been completed these rockets would be gradually removed  but they were definitely out of the war at this moment.  These were the latest secret weapons, namely the V2's, in all their past glory - now just scrap.

To be continued ...