Wood End Academy
2013
My dad and the Holocaust
My dad and the Holocaust
My dad and the Holocaust
My dad and the Holocaust
My dad and the Holocaust
My dad and the Holocaust
My dad and the Holocaust
My dad and the Holocaust
My dad and the Holocaust
My dad and the Holocaust
My dad and the Holocaust
My dad and the Holocaust
My dad and the Holocaust
My dad and the Holocaust
My dad and the Holocaust
My dad and the Holocaust
My dad and the Holocaust
My dad and the Holocaust
My dad and the Holocaust
My dad and the Holocaust
My dad and the Holocaust
My dad and the Holocaust
My dad and the Holocaust
My dad and the Holocaust
My dad and the Holocaust
My dad and the Holocaust
My dad and the Holocaust
My dad and the Holocaust
My dad and the Holocaust
My dad and the Holocaust
My dad and the Holocaust
My dad and the Holocaust
My dad and the Holocaust
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My dad and the Holocaust

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My dad went to school in Rosenberg Germany, the register on the wall said 17 boys, 12 girls and 1 jew. He was expelled after fighting back against local youths who tried to beat him up (one of which was the headmaster's son). He was sent to Breslau and went to an orthodox school, but was also kicked out. He then went to the local Gymnasium in about 1940, at this time his parents had also been expelled from Rosenberg and also went to the Ghetto in Breslau. Dad was kicked out of school in 1941 when it was closed down.
In 1942 transports started "east to work", although called up his family were sent back again.
In 1943 they were sent to Auschwitz where he lied about his age so he got allocated to a work crew. His mother and sister were sent straight to the gas chambers.
He was in Auschwitz until 1945 and went on a death march (it took 2 days, out of the 60,000 people on the march, 15,000 died on it). 9 days later the Russians liberated (a mostly deserted) Auschwitz.
He was then sent to Mittelwerks/Nordhausen and worked on testing V2 rocket engines under the supervision of Werner Von Braun. He was there for 3 months and was evacuated before the Americans liberated the camp.
He was sent to Bergen Belsen (which was designed to hold 15,000 - when the British arrived and liberated the camp there were 53,000 inmates - they hand't had ANY food or clean water for at least 2 weeks). my dad survived by eating grass.
He escaped with 5 other inmates (the camp was rife with typhoid and cholera) and made his was to Hannover were he got into a hospital and almost died.
The other inmates waited until he's recovered and they made their way to Frankfurt to a DP camp where he applied to come to England where he knew he had a living relative, it took a year (and he worked as an ambulance driver for the US Army) and came over in 1946.
He then rapidly took matriculation and did an electrical engineering degree in 2 years at Battersea Polytechnic.
He then went to work for English Electric building guidance systems for missiles. He'd often be ushered out of meetings when US rocket scientists were visiting as they'd recognise him from Nordhausen.
After 50 years he decided he'd been silent for long enough and set-up an organisation to get reparation for slave labourers and sued various German companies under the US Tort laws - which did lead to the German Government starting the reparation process. Though he disagreed with the process (no distinction between forced and slave labour) he couldn't complete his fight as he gotAlzheimer's.
He died on 10th November 2008

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  • Dad born 24th Oct 1927 in Rosenberg (now Olesno in Poland) in an area known as Silesia – must have been around 8 hereSister Käthe, Dad Ewalt and other In 1925 Silesia had 600,000 inhabitants of whom 31,000 were JewishIn 1938 no Jews could go to University
  • Silesia was disputed territory (before the war it was Germany, after the war was given to Poland)Went to school in Rosenberg in 1933, the sign on the register said 17 boys - 12 girls - one JewDad was expelled from from school after getting into a fight with other boys who used to beat him up for being JewishHe fought back and broke the teath of the ‘ringleader’ – unfortunately it was the son of the Headmaster – but they didn’t wan’t to cause a fuss as Jews were inferiorand shouldn’t have been able to win a fight. He should have been arrested.
  • He was sent to an orthodox Jewish school in Breslaw (now Wroclaw) but was again expelled – but this time for eating pork sausages which his dad’s driver had brought him.He then went to the Jewish “Gymnasium’ (like a grammer/boarding school) until 1940/41 when it had to close down as Jews weren’t allowed to go school.His family had been expelled from Rosenberg and moved to Breslau in 1940
  • In 1942 transports started from Breslau to “the east” to be sent to “work”
  • In 1942 dad’s family were called for a “roundup” but they weren’t called (early transports went to Treblinka – where everyone was killed)In 1943 My dad with his sister mum and dad were put in cattle trucks to Auschwitz (40 or 50 in a truck)
  • My dad’s truck was open – this was March it’s freezing cold
  • Dad arrived on March 6, 1943 (I went in 1995 and it was about -20 degrees C)
  • Work makes Freedom …This was on the gates to Auschwitz Camp 1 – it had a hospital and brick barracksMainly Polish and some Russian Prisoners of War
  • There were actually around 60 camps that made up the Auschwitz complex
  • Main gate, not where transports came in
  • Auschwitz II (Birkenau) didn’t have any signs as it was a death camp – you generally didn’t get out aliveWooden barracksDuring train journey my dad’s dad had kept saying “You’re 18, remember your birthdate” – he was only 15.When the train was unloaded, you were sent for “selection”His sister and mum were immediately sent to another row of peopleHe was asked his age and said 18 and gave the correct birthdate, him and his dad were moved into another row.That was the last time he saw his mum and sisterHe was then marched to a “shower block” and told to undress with everyone else, there were wash-basins and another side room with the “Showers” – he’d never seen his father naked before.He had no idea what was going on, but the older Jews has heard rumours of the gas chambers and “showers”.Luckily it was a shower – cold – then they had their head’s shaved and stood around naked with everyone else.They were then marched naked to another block were they were given clothes and some bread and a piece of sausage
  • He was woken in the morning and assigned a new Block were heds be “living”
  • He was then tattooed with his camp number – it was the same blunt needle that had been used to tattoo his father in-front of him and the person before that and of course those coming after
  • If you worked outside – your life expectancy was 6 weeks.My dad was assigned to working on the roadsHis father got a job working as an electrician working inside the IG Farben FactoryAfter a few days his father managed to persuade the Kampos (the inmates that looked after the prisoners) that my dad would be a good electrician
  • He was transferred inside and managed to fix an electrical fault that no one seemed to know how to get workingHe was assigned to be an electrician working for SiemensWhen his father knew he’d got an inside job that was at least safer, he “gave-up” and got ill – but he said to my dad “Remember Bloomsbury”.He was sent to the Camp hospital (in Auschwitz I) and had a heart attack (which meant he was unfit for work and the doctors gave him a phenol injection that stopped his heart).My father survived by trading his cigarette rations with local farmers for tomatoes
  • In January 1945, 9 days before the Russian Army advanced on Auschwitz the SS marched nearly 60,000 prisoners to Loslau 35 miles away to be transported to other camps15,000 prisoners died on the journey which took 2 daysAt the start of the march a German soldier gave his suitcase to my dad to carry, he knew wouldn’t survive carrying it, so dropped it and ran into the peopleThe soldier tried to shoot, but they were short of bullets and just got someone else to carry the suitcaseMy father had very little recollection of the march, but knows that overnight he covered himself with dead bodies to try and keep warm so he wouldn’t freeze to death
  • also known as Dora-Nordhausen or Nordhausen) camp was established in central Germany near the southern Harz Mountains, north of the town of Nordhausen. It was originally a subcamp of BuchenwaldIn October 1944, the SS made Dora-Mittelbau an independent concentration camp with more than 30 subcamps of its own.
  • Everything was dug by hand using slave labour, 100’s of thousand died constructing the site
  • V1 were manufactured here
  • V2’s were the missiles developed by Werner von Braun and his team (who later went on to develop the Saturn V rocket for NASA)My dad worked on the final stage of the engine testing – but had to urinate into the works or throw sand in (or the resistance would have killed him)Von Braun was there most days supervising everythingHe was there for around 3 months until the Americans advanced to the areaThe conditions were horrific and thousands of prisoners died (and even more constructing the site)My dad was then sent to Bergen Belsen
  • The camp was designed to hold around 15,000 prisonersIn April 15, 1945 the British Liberated the camp there were around 53,000 prisoners – with no food or even drinking waterAround 35,000 prisoners died of typhus before the British arrivedThere was NO food and very little clean drinking water
  • My dad had been there for 2 weeks and survived by eating grassHe was one of the skeletons you see in the films (most of the footage was from Bergen Belsen as camps like Auschwitz were liberated by the Russians)13,000 bodies lay around the camp unburiedWhen the British arrived they found a German supply bunker filled with tins of pork belly and tried to feed it to the inmates – many died from trying to eat meat (which they hadn’t eaten for years)My dad swapped his tin of pork with a tin of peaches another inmate had stolen from a British soldierMy dad escaped with 5 others as they knew they’d die of infection if they stayed and they were trying to get to HannoverWhen they got to Hannover dad was sent to hospital where he nearly died and stayed there for 2 weeks while he recovered (and was fed)
  • This wasn’t taken at BergenBelsen
  • They then went to Frankfurt to register as a displaced person and try and find any relatives aliveThe picture was probably around a year after he’d “escaped” from Bergen Belsen, worked as an ambulance driver for the US Army – he’d been fed
  • He knew he had a relative in England – and he lived in Bloomsbury so he wanted to come to England – the relative was called Max.In 1946 he came to England, again he had to lie about his age as England had restrictions on the number of Jews that they would allow in.He changed his birthday to the 24th of September 1929 so he would still be classified as a child.He also changed his name from Karmeinsky to Kennedy (the British soldier who helped him with his immigration forms told him to pick an English name starting with K and ending in Y, my dad didn’t speak English, so he picked the solider’s name which was Kennedy).
  • After coming over to England his Aunt (Max’s sister) committed suicide as she couldn’t cope with the fact that all her family had been killed.My dad worked as a lift engineer for Lyons Cafes and then managed to get his matriculation (like A levels) in a year.He then studied at Greenwich Tech and got a degree in Electric EngineeringHe was offered a PhD at Cambridge, but declined and went to work for English Electric working on missile systemsEnglish Electric became part of BAC (now BAe – British Aerospace)
  • Hundreds of German Rocket Scientists went to work in the US – though President Truman specified that anyone who’d been a member of the Nazi Party shouldn’t be allowed inTo get round this the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency created false employment and political biographies for the scientistsThe operation got its name as the old files had their new personae attached with a paperclipMy dad often had to be excused from meetings while at BAC as the visiting American rocket scientists would recognise him from Dora
  • Dad worked on Bloodhound, Thunderbird and BluestreakBluestreak was the first Intercontinental ballistic missile that could carry an “unspecified warhead” (i.e. nuclear)Unfortunately the UK scrapped it, though at the time it was the most advanced missile system in the world and could have been the basis for space flight – we went with US systems instead.
  • Built medical electronics, avionics, miltiary stuffWorked on parts of Concord
  • Digital Electronics Ltd – in early 70’sSold to Roche Pharmaceuticals medical divisionWas a Director of Roche in SwitzerlandRetired in early 90’s
  • Though my family knew my dad had been in Auschwitz – he never really talked about itIn 1995 he took me and my sister (Nicky) to Auschwitz for the 50th anniversary of the liberationWhile visiting the records office in Auschwitz (we found my dad’s dad’s death certificate) an ITN News producer noticed my dad was speaking English and asked him why he was here.For some unknown reason he talked to him and agreed to be filmed for ITN News at 10.That opened the flood gates and when we returned to the UK he started the “Association of Claims for Jewish Slave Labour Compensation” with some other survivors.He campaigned that slave labourers should have some kind of payment for the horrors they’d been throughHe went to IG Farben shareholder meetings (wearing a yellow star – though IG Farben was meant to be broken up in 1946 by the Nuremburg Trials) saying they should pay out.He met with the German government (they couldn’t pay anything as he hadn’t paid National Insurance)Eventually they started a class action in the 12th District Court of Florida against any German company who was involved with slave labour that has interests in the US(Bayer, Agfa, Mercedes, Ford, etcetc) under what’s known as the Tort laws.The judge rejected the action saying he wasn’t a high enough court and it was sent to a higher court.At that point President Clinton got involved and told the German Government to do something or it would go to the Supreme Court and they’d lose.And the German Government did indeed start the reparation process.The BBC made a film about his endeavours “I was a slave labourer” which was a Storyville documentaryHe is also part of the permanent Holocaust Exhibition at the Imperial War MuseumMy dad was very unhappy with the process as all the lawyers who’d been working pro-bono suddenly started charging huge fees(my dad had done all he did off his own back, he never took money form anyone).Also the system didn’t differentiate been forced labour and slave labour(Russians and Poles/etc were forced labour, and though they worked in terrible conditions, they weren’t worked to death, Jews, Gypies, etc were worked until they died)He got around $2,000 from the German Government for his 2 ½ years in concentration camps.Unfortunately he then got Alzheimer’s and couldn’t continue with his work
  • My dad and the Holocaust

    1. 1. Wood End Academy 2013

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