Sachsenhausen

    You were called out to parade on what was called the Appellplatz, to be counted, as soon as it was light. Largely unwashed because 600 people had five or ten minutes to share about 20 taps. So you had to do your ablutions in that time then you paraded and they counted you, and they counted you again and again and again till they got the numbers right and then you were marched off to work. To work meant you were– had in the meantime been given World War 1 soldiers’ uniforms with a sort of button-down jacket, but you had to wear it back to front and they had a sort of tail, and you held the tail up like that, I don’t know if the camera can take this on board, but it is in front of me anyway, and another prisoner would put a large boulder in it and you ran up the hill and dropped it and ran down the hill to get another, you ran up the hill with that. There was of course another trooper who started at the top of the hill and ran down the hill and ran up the hill without one. And so it was an everlasting chain, and that went on till lunchtime, when we were given 20 minutes and a little bit of watery soup and then we did it till dark. And then you fell in and you were marched back into camp and then you were counted again. That could take an hour, it could take two hours, and then eventually you got your evening meal which was more watery soup and a large chunk of very dry bread and you went to sleep and the next day that was it, day in, day out, day in, day out, time after time after time.

    I talked to people who had knowledge of some things that I thought might be useful and I learned how to get a temperature and I learned how to fake illness and there was camp hospital - the one thing the Germans were frightened of, of course, was typhus. There was no medicine, you went into hospital and you either got better or you died. But there was some Jewish doctors who had charge of you and one or two Jewish nurses. So after three or four weeks I got myself into hospital, which gave me a bit of a rest, to take breath and gather your strength, and of course the temperature was gone in two or three days’ time and I think from the fourth day I managed to put the thermometer in a cup of hot something when nobody was looking. You had to be careful with that sort of thing because the beatings were fearful. I mean they really were, if you survived a beating you really were made of hard material, so you exercised a little bit of caution, but after five days/six days it was obvious I was no longer ill. I went back to the old routine, as you might say.

    One day I was called into the office and the Camp Commandant said that if I would sign a form to say that I would be out of the country in six months, I would be released, but if I wasn’t out of the country within six months I would be back in the concentration camp. Well, of course I signed, you would have to be stupid not to. Oh, excuse me. So I was given my clothing back, and everything I had in my pocket, down to the last halfpenny and my cigarette case - young men used to carry cigarette cases in those days. And because we were by then fairly hard up, I smoked my cigarettes half at a time, and it was there, on the– I mean, you know they’d logged it, as the police do when they arrest somebody, you know, “Three Marks and 25 pence, one pen, one pencil, one tie pin, whatever, one cigarette case, three ½ cigarettes”. It said so there on the paper, and I had to check that there were three ½ cigarettes there and sign for them. But I was given a railway warrant to get me home. I went to Berlin where we had cousins and spent the night with them. Of course, everybody would know where you had been because your hair was totally shorn off, and I hate wearing hats, so I didn’t. And my cousins put me on the train to Hamburg the next day. Happy family reunion and that was that.

    We were going to get married in Hendon Synagogue - United. And they said to me, “Well, where is your proof that you're Jewish?” I didn't have all the right documents. I went home in tears to my father in Reading. And he said, “I'll deal with them.” And he trotted in in fury the next Sunday; they were open on Sundays. And he showed them all these details about Germany and what have you, and his passport with “Jude” written all over it. And- and that thing- his release from Sachsenhausen- you know – the lot. They gave in to him at once.

     
     

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