Holocaust Survivor letter:
Dear friend, I hope you are well. I am sure you have been made aware that I was sent to concentration camp. The aim of this letter is to express my experiences, feelings and reflect on my trauma which I endured throughout this camp. It was definitely the worst experience of my life so far. It all began when I was returning home from school. I noticed a German military wagon outside of my family home. I saw my two sisters and father on board. Then to my horror, I saw my mother getting hit in the face and forcefully pushed onto the wagon by an SS man, I was in complete shock.
My home was within a ghetto area, so my family took other people into their home. I tried to get into my house, but I wasn’t allowed. Instead, I was aggressively forced into the wagon along with the rest of my family and some other Jewish people from the ghetto. I wasn’t sure where they were taking us, but we eventually stopped at a nearby brickyard. This is where the Jewish population were being forcibly assembled together. My family and I were ordered into railway cattle trucks and then transported to Auschwitz Birkenau. I was quickly separated from my two sisters and mother, and then shortly after, my father too. This meant I had to fend for myself. I was shaved completely from head to toe, then I was showered and given a number which was “55546” and stripped clothing which was my uniform. I remained at Auschwitz Birkenau for roughly 10 days until I was selected for slave labour. I was sent by train to a small camp at Buchenwald then to Dora Mittelbau which was in the Harz mountains. This was where slave labourers like myself, manufactured V1 and V2 rockets underground.
My main job at this point was to load small trucks with rocks, the rocks were dug out from tunnels. This might not seem to be a bad job, but doing this for 12-14 hours at a time was extremely exhausting. I was exposed to harsh elements of the cold, rain and in severe cases snow. I was fed very little food and the food I did receive consisted of watery vegetable soup and a small serving of bread, which was insufficient for hard labours. Who was I to complain, little food was better than no food at all. Having very little time for rest and on the verge of starvation, I was progressively becoming weak and after five months I caught pneumonia. This was a challenging time for me. I was ill and had no idea if my family were alright, for all I knew they were dead. Thankfully a German Doctor came to my rescue and saved my life. I’m very grateful, but sadly I didn’t have time to express my gratitude towards him, I had to work.
After a while I was sent to Bergen Belsen, which I can only describe as dreadful. People were lying dead all over the place. Sanitation was almost non-existent, going to the toilet meant you had to drop you pants and sit over a big ditch. There was no toilet paper, you had to settle for leaves. Nearly a month later there was the arrival of the British army. After that, reality sank in and I discovered that I had lost my whole family. I was devastated, as you could imagine, but I didn’t have much time to grieve. I had to begin working for the British army as an interpreter. Fortunately, something good came out of working there; I met my saviour, Annie. I am now married to her and have four children. I miss my family that I have lost, but I’m glad for the family I have now and am looking forward to the future. Having been out of the concentration camp, I discovered that my two sisters were selected for slave labour. They were sent to Gelsenkirchen, to work at a factory which produced fuel for the German war effort. It was a sad time making this discovery, but at least my sisters were together. The concentration camp made me stronger as a person, and I don’t take anything for granted.
Thanks, I look forward to receiving a letter from you.
Holocaust Survivor letter: