Oral History

Norbert Wollheim describes his liberation at Schwerin, in northeast Germany, in May 1945

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 remember that very well, very well, that morning of, of May 3, 1945, when we saw the American flag hoisted uh, uh, uh, in...hanging from the trees in the forest near Schwerin, and then we realized that we had been just reborn, and had all received a new lease on life. Uh, I remember, uh, we, we embraced each other. I was in a small group of, uh, people, and, and we were laughing, and we were crying, and, was a tremendous, uh, uh, feeling of relief, but also of burden because we realized that, uh, this moment for which we have waited years and years, we couldn't share with, uh, those of us who deserved it--our own families. And we realized also something else, especially the Jewish, uh, uh, persecutees--that we had no home left to go to. I personally knew that going back to Berlin would be hopeless. I couldn't find anybody anymore. And I was, uh, therefore, I had to settle for a certain transitory existence somewhere else. I knew I wouldn't stay in Germany, because for me Germany was one big cemetery. And therefore, uh, it, it, it, it was especially--and this is the specific situation for the, for the survivors, for the Jewish survivors. The world was celebrating, I remember how jubilant the Frenchmen were amongst us when he saw the tricolor hanging from, uh, from the roofs in Schwerin, and they were dancing. We couldn't dance. We had no right to dance. So, that was the moment of, of, of tremendous elation, but also tremendous sadness.




  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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