Oral History

Norbert Wollheim describes deportation from Berlin

Norbert studied law and was a social worker in Berlin. He worked on the Kindertransport (Children's Transport) program, arranging to send Jewish children from Europe to Great Britain. His parents, who also lived in Berlin, were deported in December 1942. Norbert, his wife, and their child were deported to Auschwitz in March 1943. He was separated from his wife and child, and sent to the Buna works near Auschwitz III (Monowitz) for forced labor. Norbert survived the Auschwitz camp, and was liberated by US forces in Germany in May 1945.


I luckily was with my then-wife and, and, and child. And then we were taken around in Berlin, it was the time of the blackout, you, uh, even if you could have looked out you wouldn't know what was going on. And we were riding around for quite some time. And then we landed somewhere and later found out it was, was some kind of soldier barracks, uh, uh, uh, where we were put overnight, and then shifted to, to a collection point, a former Jewish old-age home in, in Berlin. And, uh, then the procedure of deportation started with all kind of, uh, paperwork, uh, certainly the even, uh, in the middle of that war when everything was short including paper, there was enough paper for all kind of procedures. And, uh, we had to, uh, uh, declare our so-called, uh, funds, our possessions, and we were served with a, uh, with a, uh, with a kind of a summons if you want to, saying that we had been, uh, uh, uh, declared enemies of the Reich because of our behavior and that, uh, we were to be deprived of our property. And, uh, this, this, this was served on all of us, including my then-child of three and a half years, uh, because of also his outrageous behavior toward the German Reich. Uh, after two or three days when we were taken, kept there, we were, uh, taken by trucks to a German, uh, uh, freight railroad station, and, uh, put on, on cattle cars and, uh, then this train with approximately 1,000 people left Berlin. We were, uh, we were on, on each of, uh, uh, uh, of these boxcars, there were approximately 60 to 70 people, just a bucket for sanitary purposes, no water, hardly any air because these were closed, and, and, uh, and in the afternoon of, if I'm not, not mistaken, it was March 12, 1943, we left Berlin in the direction to the east.

  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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