Außenlager Bochumer Verein
I was working on a very large steel forging press operating at 1000 degrees centigrade, very noisy, and worked with no protective clothing, which meant that lots of people got injured, even killed, working on that. And then after the twelve hour shift was over, another half an hour march to the barracks, and another shortish roll-call and then just fell half-dead or three-quarter dead into our bunk until the next shift started.
And there was one other lad, much the same age as myself, a German Jew, who done this Riga-Buchenwald-Rhine journey, and he was operating the cranes that serviced the press. We, I knew that if I would be able to be in the camp hospital for a few days it would make life a little bit easier, and we conspired that he let down the cradle of the crane very slowly onto my toe, and for that I would be having to go to the hospital and stay a few days until the blue has disappeared. Well, the load was heavier than anticipated, so it not just quashed it but actually broke it. So I had my leg in plaster for about a fortnight and I was in hospital, and that probably saved my life.
Our foreman kicked us quite a lot, called us all sorts of names, every blue moon he brought in a newspaper bag, or just a newspaper wrapping of potato peels: 'Here, Jews, that's something to eat'. And it served a double purpose. It's quite delicious, potato peelings, in those circumstances, it also gave you a chance to look at the local newspapers, Bergische Arbeiter or whatever. Now one didn't expect to find anything in it that would have been earth-shattering, but one could read the headline: 'Last night in the terror attack by the RAF or the Americans, the glorious Luftwaffe shot down a thousand airplanes'. One would have thought that there were at least a thousand airplanes in the attack, so you put two and two together, which was a bit encouraging.
One or two people did escape. One of them was a local Jew from that area who done a round the world journey before he got back to Bochum and he did escape. And I found out only last year that he actually died just a few months before I tried to contact him. But because he escaped, there was punishment meted out, and I don't know, 50 people got executed for it. So he was regarded by the only other survivor I know as a villain of the piece, because those 50 would have possibly been still alive if he wouldn't have escaped. Now whether that is so, who can tell now? And incidentally these three people, myself, the man who escaped and one other person are the only survivors of 1360 people in that group of the camp.
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