I am the son of a slave — pt 2

Second Visit to Poland — 1995, 50 years after Auschwitz was evacuated.

Our journey to Auschwitz 18/01/1995

Dad: Today is the 50th anniversary when I left Auschwitz on foot, on a cold day, dragged away and guarded by the vile guards. In the distance we could hear guns. German guns? Russian guns? It was clear to all of us that the Germans were on the run. Where were they taking us? What was going to happen to us? Here in Poland I could recall with crystal clarity what happened that day we left to a very uncertain future. I was so near my birth place, should I try to escape, but without my father I would not know who to trust, if there was even such a person anymore. We knew of course about the mass killings; Were we being herded to be killed somewhere else? It seemed this may be the last chance to escape. I cannot remember why I didn’t.

For weeks now, my memory has slowly come back, and my protective shield seemed to have come down and here my recollections are flooding back, so far only those which had good endings for me.

It is with very mixed feeling that I go back to that German killing machine, a monstrous place run by this devilish ‘Super Race’.

I could not stop myself. I had to go and say some prayers for my lost family and the nearly 2 million of my people who were enslaved, murdered and tortured here — not very far from where we are now. We are staying at a 4-star Hotel (Forum) in Krakow. Nicky and Steve are here to prop me up, should it become too difficult for me. We are really close now; I have a warm feeling inside me, and we will be all right.

Now that I have the safety of a family around me again, who I know love me and of course I love them, I must remember everything and write down what happened here. These hideous crimes against us must not be forgotten and must be a warning what happens to the Jewish people who had to trust the ‘goyim’ — the non-Jews for their very lives. We must never be in that position again and allow ourselves to be herded like sheep to the slaughter.

Wednesday Evening 18/01/95

Dad: I arrived on the 6th of March 1943 from Breslau some 170 miles away. More than a thousand people arriving at the infamous ‘Judenrampe’, in covered railway trucks used for goods or cattle. During the journey we were crammed into them, mostly standing as there was not enough room to sit. Soon there was a terrible smell of sweat and later urine and faeces. A blanket was held up for women who crouched down to aim at a small slit in the sliding door. On the opposite side the men peed through a similar slot with more success. I was trying to avert my eyes, but the images stayed. We were no longer considered human. On arrival we had to unload our luggage and leave it neatly on the ramp. Everyone’s luggage had been labelled in Breslau as had been ordered and it would be taken care of. My mother had packed mine and Kãthe’s small cases which we were allowed to take with us, so we had all we might need in our ‘new home in the East’. It was a lie of course, you were either going to die very quickly, or more slowly as your body wore out and then the next new person took your place and worked themselves to death. No dignity would be given to you, even in death. Even the most primitive of people respected life, but not in Auschwitz.

I cannot forgive or forget these evil thugs who committed these crimes, but I have tried to live a ‘normal’ life and hoped the new generation would be ashamed of what had been done by their parents and had to be given a chance and great encouragement to become good human beings and live with their past as I have to with mine.

Thursday 19/01/95

Arbeit Macht Frei at Auschwitz I
Arbeir Macht Frei Auschwitz I — By Pimke — Own work, CC BY 2.5 pl, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=755157

Nicky: At Auschwitz I they have a registration card and another entry of dad’s dad — Ewald Karmeinsky. He had been in Monowitz (Buna) hospital on 07/05/1943 (entered). He died of a heart attack in Block 19, the hospital in Auschwitz I according to the documents, i.e. a death certificate.

They found this and other documents from recently released material from Moscow. Dad remembered his Dad’s number when we entered — 106 961, but then could not remember his own number 106 962, he had to look at his arm. The shock of the concrete evidence was indescribable. The three of us cried. It felt (to me) almost unbearable.

Dad said Caddish at the crematorium at Auschwitz I on the 19th January, 1995 for his father, for mine and Steve’s and Katie’s opi (Grandfather). We all shed tears. I can’t believe how cold it was there. I can’t really describe how it felt to be there. I stood and looked down the rows of barracks, the barbed wire, the watch towers and tried to make a picture of crowds of starved, deprived, terrified people — inadequate adjectives — and I could not, I just felt immense grief, pain, anger. I thought, I hoped that my omi, my opi and my auntie are all at peace. And I held my Dad’s hand and we walked out of that place.

Scan of Ewald Karmeinsky transfer from KL Auschwitz III-Monowitz to Auschwitz II-Birkenau 7th May 1943
Scan of Ewald Karmeinsky transfer from KL Auschwitz III-Monowitz to Auschwitz II-Birkenau 7th May 1943
Scan of list of Prisoners who died in KL Auschwitz on 9th May 1943
Scan of list of Prisoners who died in KL Auschwitz on 9th May 1943
Plaque at Auschwitz II-Birkenau by the remains of the crematoria
Plaque at Auschwitz II-Birkenau by the remains of the crematoria
Remaining concrete ‘pipes’ at Auschwitz-III Monowitz camp
Remaining concrete ‘pipes’ at Auschwitz-III Monowitz camp
Aerial photo taken of the Auschwitz camp in August 1944
Aerial photo taken of the Auschwitz camp in August 1944

Friday 20/01/95 Resenberg (Olesno)

Rosenberg — Dad’s Father’s last Joke

Breslau (Wroclaw)

Krackow

Monday 23/01/95 — another visit to Auschwitz

Tuesday 24/01/95 back to Rosenberg — Tracking down dad’s Grandparents

The ITN Story

Flying home

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