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Willy Field

Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
Late April 1939
Interview number:


Dr Bea Lewkowicz

Date of Interview:

Interview Summary:

Willy Field, born Willy Hirschfeld, was born in 1920 in Bonn. He went to the city Gynmasium until 1934, and then to a Jewish school. He worked in a metal factory in Siegburg. He was arrested on 10 November 1938 at the factory and taken prisoner in Cologne and then to Dachau. He was released from Dachau in April 1939 and came to the UK on an agricultural permit. He was interned and sent to Australia on the HMT Dunera. When he returned to the UK he joined the British army, fighting in D Day as part of the 8th King’s Royal Irish Hussars.


Full Interview


My parents didn't know where I was for the first four weeks until my cousin, who worked at the same factory with me, told my mother that I was taken away by the Gestapo. But they didn't hear from me and they didn't know where I was until we were able to write a card that we are where we are, that we were being looked after very well and it was for our own protection. Clever thing!

The worst thing was knowing what happened in the concentration camp and being told not to talk to anybody. I didn't even tell my parents; I didn't tell my sister. I didn't tell anybody what is happening in the concentration camp because you had to sign a pledge that if you ever talked about it you would be back, and you wouldn't be released any more.

Oh it was wonderful, the East End! I had a little room. There was a tobacconist downstairs - I smoked then already - and he let me have cigarettes on tick. I only had a little room with a bed and nothing else. I used to go to the Jewish place in the East End where you could get some bean and barley soup and a slice of bread for 4 pence or 5 pence or 6 pence. I could afford that then so this was wonderful. I had quite a good time at work and I gradually learned to speak a bit of English. I could say 'steak and chips' and I could say all the swear words.

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