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Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
1 July 1946
Herman was born in 1927 in Nowy Sacz, Poland. His father was born there. He attended University in Vienna to study engineering and plumbing and became a Master Plumber in Nowy Sacz. He was also a Member of Parliament. He had a brother in Cracow and a sister in Lvov. She owned a perfume factory which is now run by the government. His father’s mother was a descendant of the Sanz Rebbe, called Halberstam. His mother was from Vienna. She had 3 brothers and 2 sisters. They were an orthodox family. One brother went to New York, one brother married a Dane and another, Uncle Alfred married a Countess of the Habsburg family she had to renounce her religion and become Jewish. They were hidden during the war by Habsburg cousins and lived until the age of 90 in 1969. They had no children. His mother’s father had a furnishing business in Vienna. His parents met in Vienna and married in 1907. They had Stella born 1912 and Jozef born 1920. They lived in the East of the town in Ul.Sobieskigo 22/3. It was an apartment on the first floor and they had the use of cellars and the loft.
Herman was sent to school in Vienna, where he stayed with family. He was there 4 years and left when Germany annexed Austria. He was put on a train and sent home. He attended a Catholic School for 18 months and Cheder. He belonged to Hashomer Hatzair. He mixed with the Jewish children at that school. He got on well with the non-Jewish children who were neighbours and they were delighted to see him on his return to Poland in 1997. When the Nazis occupied Poland, the shuls and schools closed, they remained in their home and were given work permits to continue working in the plumbing trade. Thereafter he endured great hardships: most of his family were murdered and he spent the war in slave labour camps in Mielec and Dachau.
In 1947 Herman came to Manchester, where he had been told there were other Polish boys. He joined the 45 Aid Society. He worked for the Urban Development Company as a plumber but after an accident at work he became a baker.
We didn’t meet any anti-Semitism at school, just once or twice that I can remember one of the boys started something but the other boys quietened him down. We never fought with them, we didn’t have to, because the other boys that knew us were very, very kind, were very supportive of the Jewish boys.
In Flossenbürg, the people in charge were the air force personnel. They only called us out to go to work and nothing else. It was less than five minutes to walk to the workshop. We were 12 hours a day 7 days a week. There was no time off at all, because the work was [the] aluminium part, that built an aeroplane. Eventually they built the aeroplane further away, the Luftwaffe themselves.
We were segregated, men & women. We were taken down to where the two rivers joined together & we were separated.Boys from 14 to 35 were sent back to the ghetto & the rest were stuck there. Though we were sent back you were not sent back to your own house. You were sent back anywhere, they put you in any building at all that they could there. We stayed there two nights. During the 2 days & 2 nights we heard shooting, we didn’t know what was happening. After 2 days we were called out: “Stand Up”. In groups of 10 we were told to go to certain places. All we saw were big ditches, we didn’t know what the ditches were for. The ditch that I was sent to, I was sent with people that were older than myself, there were a couple of 14, 15, 16 year olds. The rest were older people, 35, they knew me, they knew my family. We stopped. The wagons came in towards us. When they dropped the flap down the 1st person that came out was my mother & my sister with a 3-month old baby still alive. I wanted to jump into the grave with them. They were shot. They grabbed me, the people that I knew, they grabbed me by the collar & 2 of them sat on me all the time until they were buried. That memory I have got with me until this day. Thanks to my beloved wife, she helped me, for many many years of suffering to get through it so I can talk about it now. That was my misfortune: seeing my mother shot & my sister with the baby still alive. I can remember that for many years my wife helped me, to get the dreams that I had, crying, night after night, for many years, thanks to my wife I can speak to it now.
One time while I was in Dachau, the Gestapo came running after me, because I was late for roll call, they hit me with a rubber truncheon filled with lead, even today I have got a dent in my head. You can feel that dinch yourself, here. They hid me for 3 weeks, somebody else from another barrack came in for the roll call. I was bleeding, unconscious for 2 or 3 days, when I became conscious I slowly managed to come to the roll call. They hide me, behind the sleeping compartments, right in the corner. I was half laying, half sitting, against the wall, covered with straw. I was hit in the head, afterwards sleeping on the straw I lost my hearing. Perforated drum in the right ear with the straw, I found out when I came to England. That's why I've got a hearing aid. When I got to Flossenberg they saw the crack in my head & put a bandage on it. The same bandage all week without changing over. I still get big headaches from it, after so many years. Every time I go here to hospital for x-ray they think I have got a plate put in my head.
English people didn’t understand anything about the camps. Whatever you said they didn’t believe it. So that [showing his KL tattoo], I used to say was King’s Loyalty, KL. It stands for Koncentration Lager. That was put on in Mielic, the only camp that had that put on. I haven’t got a number on my arm. When I came to Manchester I met Moshe Besserman. He was in Mielic, we got very friendly. After 5 years of marriage he committed suicide. So in England I am the only one with with KL.