Oral History

Eddie Hellmuth Willner describes conditions in the Langenstein camp

In December 1939, Eddie's father sent Eddie to live with a family in Belgium, a safer place for Jews as it was not yet occupied by Germany. Later, while visiting his father in a camp in France, Eddie was detained. He and his father escaped, but were later deported. Eddie survived forced labor in a series of camps, and with his friend Mauritz "Michael" Swaab, escaped a death march from Langenstein, a Buchenwald subcamp. The two were liberated while on the run.


In Langenstein, the work was the killing method of people. By that I mean, working in tunnels without the proper protection. You had to dig, get the rocks out, haul them on lorries out or carry them out. And then the blasting. They...they never had the prisoners far enough away that somebody wouldn't get killed by the dynamite blasting of it, and then they carried the rocks out. So the German guards, the SS guards, always stood far enough away so they wouldn't get hit, but they didn't let the prisoners get out far enough to be safe from the blasting, so many people were killed. And those people had to be carried back at night and put into the mass graves--you know, and thrown in. And I also must mention one horrible thing. At the camp of Langenstein, they buried many people who were alive. People who were, who were too weak, who couldn't get off their knees anymore, to get up, to stand up to go to work, and they were put in a pile with the dead people and buried. And one time somebody refused to bury after they were all thrown in...the...uh...a few live people were still moving--he had recognized somebody that he knew and refused to throw earth on him, and the man was shot at the mass grave.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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