Oral History

Norbert Wollheim describes his experiences on a transport during 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.

Transcript

Somehow, uh, for reasons that are difficult to explain, we felt a certain, uh, amount of relief because after all these weeks of waiting and these weeks of expectations, knowing that so and so many trains and transport had left Berlin already before, we thought, now it's, now it's a, it's a new chapter and we were looking...we were actually, um, looking forward to that chapter with optimism and, uh, hoping or believing, envisioning that we would be taken to some kind of a labor camp and so where we would work, but survive, and wait for the end of the war. And, uh, uh, well I was with my, with my child and my wife, uh, the child slept a lot and, and, uh, when, we had difficulties to find out where we were going, but when we saw that we were going toward the east, we, my wife and I talked about, um, the time when we had made this trip in this direction voluntarily on our honeymoon a couple of years earlier in the direction to Silesia. And also, uh, she and others wrote cards, postcards, because we knew it from, from, from things, um, from transports which had left Berlin before, that, people had thrown out these cards, and these cards had been picked up on the outside and had been mailed, interesting enough. So, uh, to repeat, we, we were in such a rather good mood that we even started to sing. There was a song in the youth movement--it's, it's in Hebrew--"How nice is it when friends sit together and are together in friendship." So therefore, I say in general, it was um, um, a mood of, of expectation and, um, since it was Friday evening after darkness fell in, one of the elderly ladies, uh, uh, remembered that she had taken some candles along. And, she was lighting the candles and saying the prayers, and, um, we found this somehow encouraging, um, though it's, it's so absolutely irrational now, it's so irrational that here--but nobody, but nobody knew about it--that 95 percent of the people on that train would not live to see the next evening.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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