A1l round, everyone of these refugees in the camp considers himself a special case and does not discuss his strategy with others. For many months, they will have in common this waiting attitude, each expecting for a different reason to be the first to be released. And if a release occurs, it is instantaneous and there is not much time to discuss what strategy was used. I cannot remember how many applications are launched by my brothers in the course of the following 32 months.
Once a day, the prisoners are taken for a walk in an open yard. Such an excursion lasts about one hour, while we are watched all the time by the guards. Otherwise we are confined in our room, except for when we wish to visit the toilet. The pail in the corner looks after minor requirements. It is quite active during the night. Occasionally, the guard is also called during the night for more ambitious activities. In the evenings, even after the light is turned out at 10 p.m., we hear the soldiers singing songs of the last war and such additions to the repertoire as We hang our washing on the Siegfrid Line. We learn to sleep on command.
One day, at the end of October, we are informed that we will be moved elsewhere. We do not mind, because our investment here is small. This camp is like a doctor's waiting room, uncomfortable and functional. We empty our palliasses, fold our blankets, hand back our eating utensils. In the evening, a bus takes us to the station from where our carriage is shunted through the night. All stations lack names and lights, the country is fully blacked-out and the guards do not divulge our destination. We do not know whether they are better informed than ourselves or have been told not to let us know. In the morning, one of us recognizes the countryside. We are near Exeter.
Our last shunt sets us rolling South into Devonshire. We reach the Channel coast at Seaton. Across a meadow beside the station, we see Warner's Holiday Camp. We have arrived at Camp 2 of our Odyssey. The routine of reception is repeated except for the allotment of numbers, since we keep them for good. Our luggage is searched as if the former guards might not have done a good job in case that we have had an opportunity to acquire armaments and ammunition en route. The officer accompanying us presents our new intelligence officer with as many envelopes as we are prisoners. The camp has only just been started and within hours we are involved in its development. The advantages of the new set up are beyond dispute.
The camp is an extended rectangular compound which in the past has served as a low class seaside holiday camp: Two double rows of tiny plywood huts, a swimming pool, tennis courts and a football field occupying the space in between. Two barbed wire fences, added to the holiday scheme, surround this arrangement with a gangway in between for the guards. The industrial-type building facing the main road into town contains mess facilities, kitchen, camp office, a theatre with stage and a canteen. The sea, on the other side of the road, can be heard occasionally. When there is a real storm, the sea crosses the road and inundates the camp. This is to happen several times during the Winter, when cold conditions lead to formation of ice on all footpaths.
As the camp fills up with internees from all over England and from ships apprehended or scuttled by their crews on the high seas, accommodation is allotted according to national sentiment and allegiance. The two Western rows of huts contain Nazis and Nazi sympathizers, the Eastern rows refugees of racial and political origin; there are tents in between for people who hesitate to join one of the other side. As the war develops, individuals change side, but this is no real problem. Both sides cooperate under the supervision of the Camp Commandant and his internal deputy.
There are roll calls twice daily in the dining hall. Al1 internees crowd into one end of the room and must pass on their way to the other end the Sergeant Major who calls out the 600 names. At times, this procedure is not only watched by the Adjutant, but also by the Colonel himself who may even address his charges standing on one of the tables with his dogs on the floor beside him. These occasions can be quite impressive and we get the feeling that we present our commandant with a welcome substitute for his real life purpose, India.
Outside the first fence, soldiers are stationed at strategic positions on towers from which they can survey the sides of the camp and its inside. Every few hours, they march in groups, one after another, along duck boards between the two fences to change the guards. At night, we hear the calls of the guards through the dark: "Number One Post, all's well, Number Two Post, all's well, etc.". It is quite eerie to hear these calls when the fog rolls in from the ocean and one can see only over a distance of a few feet.
The camp organizes itself quickly. Soon it is possible to have shoes and clothes repaired and small carpentry jobs undertaken. The hospital deals with trivial cases, while patients with more serious complaints are sent away. Especially popular become visits to the dentist in town. It is said that for cash one can obtain there other than dental attention.
Gradually, classes in languages, history and economics are started, the home office making suitable lecturers available. Juergen Kuczynski is a well-know economist from the London School of Economics, Franz Eichenberg knows the European train time-tables by heart, Spanish, French and even Russian can be learnt from people who speak these languages like natives. Younger internees try to resume studies which they left behind, but internment has not yet lasted long enough for anyone to resign to the fact that it may be for years. The atmosphere of the camp is one of temporariness and uneasiness. The unusually cold Winter contributes to this stage of development of permanency. There is a real lack of heating; people are forced to crowd into the dining hall where three gun stoves, stoked with briquettes, provide minimal warmth.
A great addition to the potential of the camp is the arrival of a complete music band from a German cruise liner scuttled in the Atlantic Ocean. While the ship sank, the crew took to the boats with their instruments. The Bride from Ophir is an operetta, specially written by Franz, the railroad time table expert, and performed around Christmas. The officers of the camp are invited for the first night. The bride in silk stockings and almost all revealing evening gown, a cabin boy in real-life, raises amazement and stimulates sexual activities. The dentist in town has assisted with the acquisition of his wardrobe. In general, the mixture of all ages and inclinations in the camp finds its outlets without great concern to those whose task it is to keep order. In these respects, England is tolerant most of the time.
Camp 2 has the great advantage that we can walk about during day and night, although lights are turned off at 10 p.m. The huts, however, are not designed even for the standard English Winter. This winter is by no means a standard winter. Ice and snow last for many months. After some protests, tiny heating coils are installed in the small plywood huts without insulation, each of which sleeps three people. There are not enough blankets and all clothing is worn at all times. At night, pyjamas are quickly placed underneath the day time clothes before one slips into a carefully prepared, but improvised sleeping bag on a straw-filled palliasse.
When, after installation of the mini-heaters, the first electricity bill reaches the camp, the inventiveness of the prisoners manifests itself. It is a miracle that no major fires occur during the Winter. From then on, the soldiers search almost daily the huts for improved heating elements, but that battle is never won and the electricity bill never drops to the scheduled level.
Food deteriorates guickly during the Winter. Salt herrings in various stages of decay and similarly inclined potatoes are the bulk of our nourishment together with bread, margarine and jam. Irish Stews with dumplings are a weekly event. Those internees who acknowledge allegiance to Germany are supplied by the Red Cross with a little pocket money, smokes and necessities. Parcels from outside begin to play a major role. A very few internees live in a luxury which does not bear description; one of them, the scion of Munich's best known delicatessen, referring to the female sender of his parcels from Fortnum and Mason, London's well known delicatessen store, as his financier.
Many internees on the East side volunteer for making camouflage nets. We are paid per net and make sufficient money to purchase basic needs at the canteen. Some people heat cans of soup on the iron stoves in the dining hall. Occasionally, an unfortunate owner of a can forgets his treasure over a game of cards and sees it disappear in a jet when the tin explodes. The canteen also supplies some underwear, socks and outside wear. The war has not yet lasted long enough to create apparel problems.
Shortly before Christmas, our turn comes to face the examining authorities. Our application has found a response. One morning, we leave Seaton under guard for London, where we are accommodated in Camp 3, a school in Chelsea, where we are guarded by Scotsmen in kilts. Every morning, at 7 a.m., they march around the small enclosed yard outside our basement dormitory and fill the air space with bagpipe music. I remember how father often raved about such music, but probably he had the highlands rather than a London backyard in mind.
The interview with Scotland Yard's military intelligence section MI5 (Military Intelligence) turns out to be of no interest to either party. We are interviewed one at a time, my own session lasting shortest, probably because I am younger and one expects my brothers to divulge whatever secrets can be glimpsed. One of our older coprisoners, son of a world famous chemist, runs into some difficulties because of his nervous twitch; but in all other respects there seem to be no indications that we are harbouring among ourselves great threats to England's safety. Of course, there is always a chance that someone is lying, and this keeps the exercise going.
After our interviews, we are sent to Camp 4, a race-course at Lingfield, South of London where we are to spend Christmas. The camp consists mainly of the grandstands around which barbed wire has been placed in such a manner that prisoners can almost touch the guards. Accommodation and mess facilities are rudimentary; we are lucky to spend there only a few days.
An interesting aspect of Lingfield is the existence of a section, where internees pay for their services and enjoy considerable luxury. Here we meet Putzi Hanfstaengl, formerly Hitler's foreign press secretary, and K.Lachmann, an aircraft designer to whom Uwe had an introduction when he first went to England. May be, someone found this letter of introduction among Lachmann's correspondence? On Christmas Eve, Putzi, an accomplished pianist who used to play for his Fuehrer in private, plays Beethoven's Appassionata in public. The grand piano is part of the private members' lounge in which paying guests of His Majesty's Government are housed.
On Christmas Day, we are permitted to go to church, of course, under guard in a segregated section of the church. Throughout the service, children in the congregation turn back to stare at us. A little snow has fallen and stayed on the ground. We are having a white Christmas.
Burlington House is the seat of the Royal Society and other scientific and cultural organizations. It provides the venue for the Advisory Committee on Internees to the Home Secretary. Its chairman is Norman Birkett who is to figure in 1945 in the First Nuernberg Trial. We arrive there on 5th January, 1940. I am asked by Margaret Bondfield, a well-known quaker member of the Committee, whether I have had to suffer in Germany. My hesitant reply not physically, but is completed by her with the word mentally. The atmosphere at the committee is pleasant and people seem to take an interest in us as human beings. We come away with the firm belief that our innocence and unimportance have been established beyond doubt and that soon we may pull our weight in the war. At the last minute, we are assured not to worry! The next day we return to Seaton to continue our wait.
On 25th February, 1940, Wilhelm Hermann Georg Arnold Theobald Solf, aged 25 years, son of Germany's former Ambassador to Japan, is convicted in the Police Court at Abingdon of an offence against the Alien Order of 1920 (illegal photography) to one month's imprisonment and costs. He presents references from Sir Horace Rumbold, former British Ambassador to Berlin, Sir George Ogilvie-Forbes and others; in cross-examination, he divulges that he served in a German Cavalry Regiment, worked later in the German aircraft industry, is a German reserve officer and returned to England three days before the outbreak of war. He has studied at Oxford during the past three years and intends to continue doing so. His probably innocent act was observed and reported to the local police by Linda Volante, a 14 years old evacuee from London,
Among the refugees in the internment camp, this development is referred to as the Solf affair which eventually has sinister consequences for all of us. On 2nd March, the Times reports an answer by Sir John Anderson, Home Secretary, to a question in Parliament relating to the internment of aliens. He indicates that out of a total of 74,233 Austrian and German nationals, registered in England at the beginning of the war, 55,457 were acknowledged refugees from Nazi persecution and that 569 were interned. For the first time, we see real figures and learn the lesson that even under these and probably many other conditions it does not matter who you are but whom you know. The fact that we are among the one percent which has been detained is not raising our spirits.
This is the beginning of the internment of ever larger numbers of refugees and the end of our hope to be allowed to pull our weight in this struggle with the system in Germany. Not many of the more recently interned people join our camp which is of limited size. Most are sent to the Isle of Man. However, Solf appears one day among us, and it is no too difficult to imagine how popular he is among some of us. At a later time, when Germany appears to perform well, he joins the Nazis in the camp.
We are now convinced that there will be no early end to our imprisonment. We are also not surprised when we learn from the newspapers that Putzi has been allowed to go to Canada to his farm. We continue to wait, but no one really can tell for what we are waiting.
It is around this time that we learn of father's release from concentration camp. Grete Simon in New York makes every effort to organize his emigration to wherever a door is open, since this was the first prerequisite for his release. My brothers make their savings available for this purpose. At the same time, new applications for release with new facts are written and the brothers make attempts to help him. We ourselves have now become part of the bureaucratic system which is unaffected by and impervious to sentiments, compassion and humanity. We are numbers in a file which grows as the war begins to develop during the early months of 1940.
When Germany invades Denmark and Norway on 9th April, 1940, we are deprived of newspapers. From then on rumours are our daily food for thought; the slightest observations such as that suddenly our guards carry around old-time, quite unsuitable guns are interpreted in terms of disaster and defeat. The Nazis in the camp become more confident, there occur change-overs from our side of the camp to theirs, and the atmosphere all around becomes loaded.
After a cruel Winter, the Sun begins to warm up. We are given permission to cultivate some land outside the camp. in order to subsidize our sustenance. We grow lettuce and radishes, and establish tomato plants. The swimming pool, on which some people organized skating and ice shooting with water filled, frozen margarine tins during Winter, is returned to its real purpose. We acquire a tan and start to make camouflage nets in the open.
In the middle of June, it becomes clear that the camp will be vacated soon. The canteen holds a sale. Food is cheap and shoes rise in price. We receive our last payment for camouflage nets. On 22nd June 1940, during the evening roll call, about 300 names are read out; these people are told that they will depart on the next morning for an unknown destination. Luggage is limited to 50 lbs, any overflow must be stored during the few hours left. Matches are prohibited. The group includes many Nazis, but there does not appear to be a system in the selection except for a preference for persons who are not involved in activities vital to the running of the camp. During the next days, we make a selection of items of which we believe that we will require them when our turn comes. The residue is sent to friends in Scotland. Among these things is my diary of the past months which is supposed to have been destroyed by fire during an incendiary raid on Glasgow.
We are now engaged in a general clean up of the camp. All remaining persons must move into the first few huts near the main building. There is little doubt in our mind that we will not have to wait much longer. On 29th June, we are told that we will leave the next morning. We are to rise at 2.15 a.m. There will be a roll call at 4 a.m.; the train is to depart at 6 a.m. Again matches are prohibited. Does this indicate that we will be sent to the Isle of Man? We suspect that the exclusion of matches indicates sea travel. We feast once more outside our hut on self-grown vegetables. Recently we have heard that the parents and Gundula are to pass through Italy on their way to South America during June. There is a rumour about regarding Italy's entry into the war. Our departure will cut us off from all communications for an indefinite period. We leave with great uncertainty about the fate and whereabouts of our family. Not to worry are the last words from the intelligence officer before the train pulls out of Seaton Station.
Our group of about 200 internees travels in six carriages. The train reaches Liverpool towards evening and passes through a long tunnel before pulling up beside a large vessel, the Blue Star Liner "Arandora Star", a luxury cruise ship. When we are led up the gangway, a doctor looks into our eyes and a steward allots cabins. We must stay under deck. At 10 p.m., we receive food of a very high quality, the best since we were interned nine months ago. It is served on china plates!
There are guards everywhere and our movements are restricted. Apart from the paying residents of the camp at Paignton in Sommerset Shire, there are about 800 Italians on board, a fact which confirms that Italy has entered the war. Have the parents been able to leave before? By now it appears to be obvious that we are going further than the Isle of Man. In the morning, we organize ourselves, reshuffle accommodation and look after other chores which will ensure the smooth running of Camp 5: "Arandora Star".
The ship is moving northwards through the Irish Sea, probably to Canada. Around lunch time, we sight the Isle of Man, where the wives of quite a few of our group are held. At Sunset, we are North of Ireland. The ship is not in convoy. For a little while, we are accompanied by a submarine. A Sunderland Flying Boat visits us several times as we zig-zag through the relatively quiet sea. There is a general sense of elation among us. We are happy to go to America. We have reached at last a turning point of our fortune and things should get better from now on. Before bunking down that night, we stand about on the upper deck talking to the ship's doctor.
No one comments on the fact that there has not been any boat drill. We are inexperienced! Even the fact that life-jackets lie about in all cabins is hardly noted. I have been given the task of collecting breakfast in the morning at 6 a.m. Forgetting about the ship's westward movement and the associated putting back of clocks, I rise before 5.30 a.m. and dress. I leave my spectacles, received a few weeks earlier from Germany, on a night table in the cabin shared with my brothers and another person. Uwe gets up and puts on his shorts, but lies down again when we discover that it .is too early. I stand at the end of the short passage leading from the main corridor to our cabin when suddenly the light goes out, an explosion rocks the ship and fumes propagate along the now dark passage. Just before the light goes out, I see a group of soldiers with guns walking in file along the corridor. As they pass me, they take me between them and lead the way upstairs to the lower open deck. There is a weird silence about the ship; the engines have stopped. We hear people in the cabins calling out. Under our feet we feel broken glass from window panes and bulbs, shattered during the explosion. Many people cannot find their shoes and receive cuts on their feet as they feel their way up to the open decks.
By the time the soldiers and I reach the open deck, the ship is listing. I return under deck to find my brothers, whistling a tune from Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony which we have used at times to signal to each other. I receive immediately Uwe's reply and do not have to struggle against the stream of humanity flowing from the cabins. When I meet my brothers, I notice that they have only brought their life vests with them. I am without one until I come across an Italian with two. Jobst could not find his shoes and stands on the deck in pyjamas with bleeding feet.
Many of the Italians are panicking, some are kneeling on the deck praying, others are climbing the narrow steps to the upper deck. My brothers and I stand by the railing uncertain of what to do next. German and English sailors on the upper deck are launching life-boats and are throwing rafts into the sea. People with suitcases in their hands jump over board. Others drop from the upper deck with life vests on them. They break their necks and float afterwards between swimmers and debris,
I talk to a young soldier who stands quietly on the deck with his rifle. No one has given him an order and he waits. He suggests that I jump. When I turn back to my brothers, they are gone. A rope ladder hangs from the lower deck near where I stand. I climb down and let myself drop, holding my vest in one hand, I dip under and come back to the surface to place the vest quickly over my head. I immediately begin to swim away from the ship lest I be struck by rafts falling from the upper deck. It is too dangerous to stay near the hull which is gradually rising at the stern. I see several life boats and decide to swim towards one of them. Suddenly I see Uwe ahead of me. He tests a plank for buoyancy, but decides against staying with it and continues towards the same boat which is my goal.
I arrive soon after he has been pulled inside. The body of an elderly Italian hangs from a rope trimming where I reach the boat; I have to climb over him with the help of people inside. From the elevation of the life boat, one can see a huge field of debris with bodies floating in between. On the deck of the sinking ship, we can still see people running about. On our side of the hull, another life boat drifts past and joins us standing by. We cannot see how many boats have been launched as others may be hidden by the sinking ship. To start with, I join the large number of persons lying in the bottom of the boat, dejected and some of them seasick. I am cold and covered with oil. I feel a bit sick after having swallowed sea water with oil. However, I soon volunteer for a place on an oar which from then on is operated by Uwe, myself and a Nazi sailor.
Now and then I throw a glance at the wreck which is already half submerged with its bow raised. I see people toppling down the deck as suddenly two holes open in the foredeck and jets of smoke emerge. She slides smoothly out of sight about 30 minutes after the torpedo struck. She leaves behind more debris, bodies and swimmers. Immediately after the ship has sunk, the boats converge on the site to search for survivors. Our rowing becomes coordinated and follows the instructions of an officer of the "Arandora Star". However, as we have already 120 persons aboard a boat meant for 80, the officer leaves our vessel and joins another life boat to ensure that the best use is made of all available space. It is obvious now that at least four of the 12 life boats were lost during launching. Many people have managed to clamber aboard rafts and will have to hold on to them for a while.
The sky is clouded over; there is a heavy swell. An absence of white caps is reassuring us that for the time being luck is with us. We learn from another boat that an SOS was sent out before the ship sank and that therefore a visit from a Sunderland Flying Boat may occur before long. The "Arandora Star" was torpedoed at approximately 6 a.m. Shortly after 9 a.m., an aeroplane is seen over the horizon. Several rockets are launched and our oars are raised vertically to draw the pilot's attention. Soon the bulky plane cruises overhead and drops a capsule with the message that a destroyer is on its way. It also jettisons some food which is picked up by the only operating motor boat. Biscuits, chocolate and cigarettes are distributed among the boats. For a while, the plane cruises overhead and searches for survivors, signalling to the boats below. It then departs.
As our boat sluggishly rises and falls on the swell and we row slowly steadying it into the waves, time passes. Around 2 p.m., a dark spot appears on the horizon. Soon after, the flying boat returns and joins the destroyer in its search for survivors on rafts. The destroyer's fast motor boat dashes about for a while in this pursuit, while we await our turn to be transferred. We decide to row towards the destroyer. En route, we pick up a raft which we tow behind. It carries six men sitting in rows of three facing each other. They look quite comfortable until one realizes that they have their legs in the water. We are the third of the 8 boats to reach the rescue vessel. As we approach it, we note that the heavy swell raises and lowers the boats as they come along the side of the destroyer. Three wooden ladders have been lashed to its side. Two or three men at a time clamber up these ladders when their boat is at the crest of the wave. When they reach the railing, they are promptly grabbed by sailors of the destroyer and lifted on to the deck to make room for the next trio.
The iron deck is hot; people without shoes quickly disappear inside. Among them is Jobst who joins us soon from another life boat. Once again we have been lucky. I have a look inside the ship where the air is thick; exhausted and wounded people lie about everywhere. The worst cases are taken to the hospital, which soon is overcrowded. I am given a tumbler of cognac and a cigarette before I emerge on deck to give a hand with the unloading of the remaining life boats. As I help a huge fat man without clothes covered with oil to the hospital, my hands which grab him from the back lose their grip and he slides on to the deck. It takes several men to shift him.
At last, all survivors have been collected and the Canadian destroyer St. Laurent with the number H 83 heads back to Scotland. I spend most of the night in a hide-out under the bridge with a number of sailors of the crew. They are my age and treat me with great consideration. For a few hours, I have the feeling of being part of the war. What will happen next?
In the early morning, Ailsa Craig at the entrance to the Firth of Clyde rises out of the fog. I recognize its monolithic shape after having seen it frequently during cruises when I visited Scotland in 1936. Thus I know my way about when the ship berthes in Greenock. There are many soldiers on the quay and no civilians in sight. The English soldiers and sailors leave the ship first and are welcomed enthusiastically. As we leave the destroyer, we are met by silence. We are counted and become again numbers. Many of us are only covered by blankets obtained from the crew of the rescue vessel who are shaking our hands as we leave. We are first sorted out into Italians and Germans. When we insist, a third group of refugees is formed. Surrounded by soldiers with rifles, we march through Greenock to a multi-storey factory, the same building in which survivors of the "Athenia", the first passenger ship torpedoed during this war, were billeted a few months earlier.
Those too sick to walk remain temporarily on board. Four more men died during the night. Our procession looks like a funeral without a band. We move very slowly over the cobbled streets, because many of us are without shoes. The population watches us emotionless from the sidewalks. The morning papers have reported the loss of the "Arandora Star" and of about 900 soldiers, sailors and prisoners. When we reach the factory, the Nazis are placed on the top floor, the Italians on a floor beneath and our group of 63 refugees on the ground floor. For a long time, nothing happens. We stand about on the concrete floor, waiting for clothing, blankets and food. Gradually, one after the other collapses on to the floor and goes to sleep where he drops. We are hungry and tired after 36 hours without food or sleep.
Apparently, no provisions have been made for our arrival. After hours we are given some dry biscuits, tea and cigarettes. These are followed by one blanket per person. Later in the morning, the Italians are taken away. A rumour has it that they are immediately on their way back to Liverpool and another ship. We share the building with the Nazis whose singing can be heard above, sounding through the central light shaft of the factory. They have recovered their spirits, and, maybe, they have already obtained newspapers telling about the fall of France.
Corned beef and bread with tea become the staple food of the next three days. Our room has windows into the street some of which are broken. We manage to obtain newspapers and are astonished to learn that the tragedy of the "Arandora Star" was the fault of the prisoners. We were undisciplined and have panicked in the face of the courage and heroism of the crew and guards, and, of course, all of us were Nazis. There is no mention of lack of boat drill nor of the fact that several boats were unserviceable. We also learn about the fall of France and the evacuation of Dunkirk. Little by little, we fill in the gaps left since we ceased receiving newspapers almost two months earlier. What motivation could lie behind such an order?
During the afternoon, I speak with a nurse who promises to phone our friends at nearby Bridge of Weir. In the evening, Ian appears. Since we were interned, we have our first contact with an outsider other than officials and soldiers. He promises to bring us some clothes and contact other friends. On the next day, a local parson visits us and after a brief memorial service for our dead we are given hot tea and cakes. Other parsons visit during the following days and bring welcome clothing. They are also instrumental in some of us sending unofficially messages to relatives. So far we have not been allowed to use the post. Our guards, all elderly men, treat us kindly and do not hesitate to close an eye when we try to send messages. In the evening of 4th July, while we are asleep, Uwe's friend from Glasgow turns up with some of the clothes which we sent to him from Seaton a couple of weeks earlier. He also leaves some money and strawberries which the officer in charge hands over to me. Ian comes again on another day.
On Friday, we are equipped with ancient military uniforms, probably stock from World War I. Underwear, trousers, shoes and jackets of varying sizes are available; it is up to us to achieve the best fit. On the way out of the fitting room, a soldier with a paint brush adorns the backs of our new garments with red crosses. Now we are ready for the next move.
Next day's papers report how our guards must protect us against the fury of the local population. We are upset and defenceless. Since days, we have only received kindness through the cracked windows of our prison.
At last, we are given postcards with the inscription "I AM SAFE". There is no possibility of explaining why such a mysterious statement should be sent. Presumably, relatives are to guess that we were exposed to unsafe conditions. At the same time, we complete from memory our own list of lost persons. Altogether, 106 men from Seaton and nearby Pagination, a camp with paying inmates, were drowned or died subsequently. The Nazis lost 45, the Italians about 450 persons. We have no means of estimating the numbers of sailors and soldiers lost. Our group of Anti-Nazis now comprises 63, that of the Nazis approximately 200 men.
Throughout the week, we try to impress on the commanding officer the need to separate us from the Nazis; some promises are made. On Saturday morning, we are told to prepare for the next move. When we ask what is going to happen and whether we can count on being separated from the Nazis, the answer is not to worry. Soon we are on our way to the station, this time looking superficially like defenders of Britain. When it turns out that there are not enough guards, after consultation, our compartments are left without guards. One trusts us! The population gives us a farewell. As we roll through the countryside around Glasgow towards Edinburgh, people wave to us. They cannot see the red crosses!
We are quietly unloaded in the evening at a station South of Edinburgh. During a half hour drive southwards, we pass a number of road blocks, probably improvised recently in face of the threat of invasion. We enter an area marked "Keep Out! Military Reserve". Camp 7 is a simple rectangular compound surrounded by barbed wire entanglements. It contains about 80 tents, mess tents, corrugated iron sheds with showers and latrines. There is no separation from the Nazis. During the four days at Woodhouse Lea, we make a number of attempts to impress on the young kilted lieutenant with a severe stammer our wish for separation from the Nazis. In the end, ho assures us that his life would have been easier if all Anti-Nazis had got drowned!
Besides all this, we are hungry and cold most of the time. Even in July, the Scottish climate is not over suitable for our mode of accommodation, and lack of clothing is a real problem. The surroundings of the camp are beautiful. At the foot of high hills on the West side, old trees, grazing sheep and heather create a typical setting of Scotland. It rains regularly and soon the tents are afloat. Every evening and morning, we must walk once around the track between the entanglements forming the compound, to be counted: Nazis first, Anti-Nazis trailing behind. When there is an air raid on Edinburgh, the camp is surrounded by soldiers with their rifles pointing inside. They are called by a queer sounding alarm system involving electrically operated whistles.
On Wednesday, 10th July, a trumpeter wakes us without any warning at 5 a.m. Soon we are under way by train. This time no one has bothered to tell us not to worry. May be they know by now that nothing will stop us from doing so. When we pass through the tunnel at Liverpool, we know that we are once again going to sea. It is almost dark when our turn comes to board the troop transport "Dunera". While we are standing on the pier waiting, soldiers pass us coming off the boat. Several of them hold watches in their hands and wave them to us.
We fail to understand the significance of their actions. We walk aboard along the gangway, where an officer counts us by operating a mechanical device. As we move along the deck, our few possessions are grabbed, our clothes are searched, cigarettes and money removed. Some people lose even wristwatches and rings, others manage at this stage to hold on to them. Suddenly we understand what is going on. By that time we have been herded through a gate in a barbed wire fence several feet from the railing. We have reached Camp 8 which preserves the style we are accustomed to by now.
The officer guiding us wants to locate us together with the Nazis in the same space under deck. We protest on the spot, stand about for a while in the dark and eventually are placed further back on a deck below the one occupied by Italians. All the decks at the stern of the vessel are interconnected and use the same facilities. We have to remain below deck and are given some food at 10 p.m. Otherwise we are left undisturbed until the next morning, making our own arrangements for the night. There are no blankets or mattresses. We sleep on tables, the floor and on benches. It is very cold. Many people complain about having lost their few personal objects as well as their minimal luggage. We are depressed and worried. As the cold becomes unbearable towards the morning, I get up early.
To my horror, I discover that we are completely surrounded by barbed wire without access to the railing. We are in a cage! After the experiences of the last week, we will naturally be looking for a route of escape if the ship were to be torpedoed. There is a small space 30 by 10 feet on deck outside which a soldier stands guard with a rifle. He sends me immediately below deck without responding to my question regarding our destination. I have just enough time to perceive that we are well on our way through the Irish Sea in the company of two destroyers and a large transport.
As I climb down the steps to our deck, I meet a sergeant who under threat removes my wrist watch. It is worthless since I swam for my life. During the day, more watches and valuables are stolen. Gradually, people learn to keep things out of sight.
In the morning, hammocks are issued together with blankets. We are to suspend them during the night as best we can in the space, where we are to live and eat. All decks are packed tight with little space to move about at any time. A day's simple routine starts with the collection of breakfast from the kitchen on the deck above at 6.45 a.m: Hot fish or sausages, bread, margarine and jam, tea. The dishes are washed immediately afterwards in the primitive washrooms at the stern on the same deck as the kitchen. Along one side of this space, a 20 inches wide open gutter with a rail on which one can crouch is flooded by the sea from the direction of the bow and discharges towards the stern. This is our sanitary arrangement which poses quite interesting acrobatic challenges during storms.
At 9.30 a.m., soldiers come down into the decks and chase everyone on to the top deck, where we must pass through the gate and walk in file several times around the upper deck. At both ends of the open deck, on both sides of the ship, soldiers stand beside machine guns with their fingers on the triggers. What would be the headlines if one or all of them decided to let go one day?
Sometimes I manage to stay below deck during this "recreational" exercise. In the absence of the prisoners, the floors of the decks are washed with disinfectant. In general, the guards are rude and rough to us. There does not seem to be any supervision from their officers who keep out of sight most of the time. None of us have expected such a concentration camp atmosphere; we find it hard to readjust our thinking.
At noon, lunch consists of soup, stew, potatoes and dessert. The food is frequently burnt. Its taste fits the general atmosphere. It deteriorates over the weeks and stomach upsets become later a problem for everyone. Afternoon tea at 4 p.m. brings tea or coffee, bread and jam, at times cheese, fruit or fruitcake. In the evening, at 7 p.m., we eat fish, macaroni cheese, bread and jam. In the end, the jam has fermented and loses its attraction for most of us. The lights are turned out at 10 p.m., apart from those over the staircase.
Franz Eichenberg, the leader of our small group, manages to talk briefly to one of the officers. He enquires about the purpose of the fencing and the theft of our few possessions. He is told not to worry as all prisoners will go down with the ship, if it should be torpedoed. The officer laughs when a suggestion of boat drill is made. He promises to enquire with regard to the thefts.
We can take showers with salt water as often as we like. When we run later on into storms, the washroom and latrine are inundated and we have to wade to our destinations. It is a miracle that we do not encounter worse sickness than we do. There is always a lucky aspect to everything.
During the first few days, the guards' scavenging for valuables is a continuous worry. At the suggestion of an officer, we collect the remaining items, label them and hand them over to him for "safe-keeping". We will not see them again. We ask for the luggage which was taken away from us when we boarded. We are given a collection of items. An exhibition is mounted, where a few of us celebrate reunions with bits of clothing. Soon we refer to the "Dunera" as the Pick-Pocket-Battleship. Our sense of humour at the time is reflected by the following adjustment of the well known limerick :
|There was a young man from Larkie,||There was a young man from Eira,|
|who had an affair with a darkie,||who sailed on the troopship "Dunera,"|
|the result of his sins were quadruplets not twins,||the result of his sins was a wrist-watch, not twins,|
|one white, one black and two khaki.||for he lived in a civilized area.|
The new letter forms
The year 1941 starts with an issue of special writing paper which must now be used for the two letters we may write each week. This paper is impregnated against the use of secret inks! What can we report? Each letter has 22 lines, and we must write clearly. As long as we receive little and very old mail from the parents, this does not create any problems, but when we have a lot to tell or answer, there arise insurmountable problems. Classes have stopped over Christmas and resume during the second week of January. We are waiting anxiously for this event, as we are to have a first set of exploratory examinations before Easter. There is still much work to be done.
At last, we are to receive spectacles for which our eyes were tested many months ago. I have had a bit of trouble with my eyes, probably due to the bad lighting on the ship. I also have a wisdom tooth pulled by our own dentist, Dr. Seefeld from Hamburg, who practices outside the camp, treating internees as well as soldiers. He uses a portable, mechanical drill which he operates with his foot like a sewing machine, an almost medieval torture.
On 24th January, 1941, another letter arrives from Portugal. It is a month old and indicates that the parents are still waiting for definite news of their departure. They tell us for the first time about many of the events in Koenigsberg and during their wanderings. The letter also contains many questions which are to fill them in on our experiences. They only know that we were on the "Arandora Star" from one of the "I AM SAFE' postcards which eventually reached them. Early in February, we have our best laugh of the internment period when the Australian Minister of War visits our camp. He asks our cook whether he is off a Nazi submarine. After trying over months to convince whatever authorities may care to listen to us or read our letters that we are Anti-Nazis and almost exclusively Non-Aryans, such a question really hits us between the eyes. Some of us reckon that we are getting a first-hand insight into politics which should prove to be valuable for life. It does not matter what you say, because on the next day there will be a different headline; if you made a mistake it will be covered up by another headline or mistake.
On l7th February, a letter from Portugal tells us that the parents are to leave for the U.S.A. on 25th January. We are very pleased. Jobst opens up one of our valuable bottles. We have started to make alcoholic drinks out of readily available fruit and sugar. The bottles are buried under the hut for fermentation. Needless to say that such an enterprise is illegal, and that great care has to be exercised. Nevertheless, the news that we are thus engaged gets out and one day we are made to line up on the parade ground while the soldiers search our huts. They find a few bottles and it seems to us that we hear more noise from their camp that night. At another occasion, several bottles buried underneath a hut explode as the camp commandant is on his daily tour of inspection. Again we are lined up on the parade ground for another search.
At last our complaints about the treatment which we have received on the "Dunera" have produced a positive reply. Everyone is to make a list of his losses; we are to be compensated! We learn that the commanding officer held a Victoria Cross from World War I and that he was dishonourably discharged because of his performance on the way to Australia.
During these days, we receive the money which was taken from us when we were interned. It is amazing how in the long run an organization attends to details. At the same occasion, we are refunded money paid to the Australian authorities in connection with our landing permits. We decide to have a pair of flannel slacks made for each of us by a tailor who has set up in busines in the camp. When will we wear them?
A comet is sighted and watched nightly. We are not sure whether it is the same comet that has been reported in the United States. After all, we are on the Southern Hemisphere. In the past, comets have often been associated with wars. If a war lasts long enough, this symptom need not encounter any administrative difficulties. The scene is now complete, war, comet and all.
On my birthday, 18th February, we receive a telegram that the parents have landed in New York. A chapter is closed, although we do not yet know the conditions under which they are there and whether they must proceed to Venezuela. We hope that this is not the case. Now, we will make a real effort to get to America. Will it be possible?
At the end of February, we receive permission to enroll for courses at Melbourne University and Melbourne Technical College. We must first of all pass entry examinations, but at least we know now that we can obtain formal acknowledgment of our efforts and build a basis for a future. The thought that we might be here for another three or four years and then come out solely with a claim of knowing something has been rather worrying. It is true perhaps that in the end performance should matter more than a piece of paper, but does it? How can one find a chance to perform without a paper? I will have to forget about engineering for the time being at least. Without workshop and drawing office practice, it is not possible to pass the hurdles along the road to such a degree. I can do here only theoretical subjects such as mathematics and physics. Some of the students are talking about taking philosophy and languages. This kind of study is not for me.
The first letter from the parents from New York arrives early in April. Somehow the knowledge that they are safe has made a great deal of difference to me. I am working harder and make progress rapidly. It is as if a change of state has occurred. It is a miracle that six out of the seven members of our family are now safe. In view of the news other people receive, we have beaten the laws of probability. We have been very lucky, and I must make the best of this extraordinary luck.
Winter is approaching. It is much cooler, but the landscape is still one of dust and scorched grass. Whenever a few drops of rain fall, the picture changes radically. The trees become glossy and new life starts, a fact which one senses rather than perceives. As we have not yet had a full year's weather cycle, all these observations are made with intense interest. We plant new vegetables and flowers in our small plots in an expectation of better things to come.
Music is a pleasure for many of us. Since we have radio which is switched on to a Melbourne station from outside the camp, we can listen daily to the Music Lover's Hour at 2 p.m. when a wide selection of classical music is presented. On Sunday evening, Dr. Floyd, a Melbourne organist, has a programme which we never miss. We sense that he is a musician and not a person who knows all about musicians' metabolisms. There are also quite a few records about and it is possible to borrow a gramophone. Occasionally, we give a music party during which special food is served.
The first internee leaves for Melbourne to collect his American visum. His father is waiting in New York. He returns after a couple of days and has many things to tell. My brothers miqht have enough money to get us to San Francisco. It is supposed to cost about 70 Australian pounds per person.
What are we going to do when a chance arises to join an army? There is talk now about internees being allowed to return to England to join a Pioneer Corps. Or may be Australia will set up a corresponding organization? I personally prefer by now the ideas pursued in the United States. Having been a second class citizen in Germany, one really wants to be equal in all respects. We have not only gone through the mere act of being born somewhere. While it is true that we were pushed out, it is also true that it took considerable courage and initiative to get out and this far. It would be good to be trusted one day and to feel that all opportunities depend only on ability and conviction.
We are now getting frequently chances to go for walks and do chores outside the camp. Only a few guards come with us, as a mere formality. We always feel sorry for them when it is hot. We are tempted to offer them to carry their rifles, since all of them are much older than many of us. But such a gesture might be interpreted the wrong way. We walk to the reservoir, and even have a swim. There is a wealth of bird life about, many species are new to us.
On 7th May, we receive a parcel which the parents sent from New York. Most welcome are advanced mathematical books and a pair of spectacles which they bought for me still in Koenigsberg. The spectacles supplied by the official optician were not too good. My hut companion Albin is most impressed by my appearance; he reckons that I look like the Kreditanstalt, Austria's large bank.
I receive a letter from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) with a handbook and entrance form. A lot of effort goes into filling out the form, but many questions cannot be answered. My background and German education differ too much from corresponding American standards. In addition, I have lost my papers and cannot prove anything. It is unlikely that I will be able to avail myself of this opportunity initiated by father. He certainly has not lost much time before getting started on my behalf.
About the same time, we hear from Norman Birkett, the chairman of the Home Office Advisory Committee, to whom we have written again asking for help. He assures us of his assistance in our attempts to get out. Simultaneously, we receive a letter from the secretary of the refugee committee in England informing us that our release in Australia is out of the question. We may be allowed to return to England and join the Pioneer Corps or to emigrate to the United States. Obviously, this country has as yet no need for us. How long will that attitude last?
We are starting to adopt this country and the way of life it offers, at least as we see it from inside the wire in need of a shave. Surely, in view of all the space available, one should live on the land. I would not mind living in some lonely cottage. This is a reaction to years of an overdose of togetherness. I got used to it, but then you can get used to anything. That does not mean that I like it. Now that we have a more varied mixture of people around, it is better.
I take up learning Russian. It is slow going, but the alphabet has been overcome and an elementary knowledge of its vocabulary and grammar acquired. 0ur Latvian teacher is Herr von Skerst. However, we are short of grammars and texts. Yet it is clear to me that I will stick to mathematics. I still find it difficult to remember words in whatever language. We say in the camp that Sunday differs from other days of the week in that on Sunday we do not even start a new project.
On 22nd June, 1941, Russia is attacked. A wave of excitement and new hope runs through the camp. Everyone is drawing maps of Eastern Europe, in order to trace out the front as it moves Eastwards. Surely, this must be Hitler's Waterloo? Obviously, he wants to lay his hands on urgently required resources. May be, it will not be long now and they will use us here. We speak of the millions of unfortunate victims of this new move.
M.I.T. turns down my application on 18th July. In view of the increasing difficulties people experience with obtaining U.S. visas, I do not think that this refusal will make too much of a difference. It was nice to think about it for a while.
In their latest letter, the parents confirm our letters from Seaton written over a year ago. How much has happened since then! These letters must make strange reading. It gives us the feeling that time has passed, a feeling which is so often absent under our present conditions. Every day is the same; if it were not for the studies which are making progress, I could not sense the passage of time.
As we learn more details about our family's adventures, I realize what a heavy burden has been imposed on Gundula, the youngest of us. She will be 20 years old soon. The parents have relied heavily on her. Neither she nor I have completed our tertiary education. We went to school during the time when the changes caused by the Nazis were really becoming effective. These developments have affected our lives differently from those of our brothers. We sensed the dangers and worries of our parents, but did not become part of them, because we were considered to be too young. If one is not too young to swim for one's life or to visit an uncle in prison, someone is not thinking correctly.
Father has had an accident with his right arm and is out of work as inspector at a railway stock factory. Are the worries ever going to stop? Here we are, three fit and young men living on the fat of the land without duties and responsibilities, and we cannot do anything for him who is labouring at an age of 58 after a life-time of high responsibilities.
At times, I am wondering how I really felt when I jumped into the water after the "Arandora Star" was torpedoed. Certainly, there was no fear of getting drowned, there just was not time for that. I am musing naively how the inhabitants of the huge hotel "Planet Earth" behave. It is a rather uncertain vehicle which can break down any minute. People on it are fighting over ideas and places, while they are moving at an incredible speed from nowhere to nowhere. When are they going to find a modus vivendi by which everyone will get a bit of pleasure, and not at the expense of others? The importance of violence is overstressed in all reporting and thinking. For example, the cruelty of removing people from their accustomed surroundings, especially at an advanced age, and forcing them to live like animals is worse than eventually making them die under such conditions. I recall the discussion before the Advisory Committee in London and Margaret Bondfield's remark to me about suffering. It is sudden change which causes the greatest stress and unhappiness. When conditions stop changing, we get used to them, whatever they are.
During August, we move to our eleventh camp. It is not clear to us why we are being moved; however, the camp is even nicer. From its highest point, we see the flat country stretching out to the North-West and South-East. We have a complete view of the reservoir with trees all around it. We also are to get a bit more freedom; we are able to play tennis and golf outside the compound without guards. We have contact with the other compounds and our community receives again new blood. I am going to give lectures on differential equations to a new group of interested students.
We know now that we will be sitting for the Matric in November. The pressure is building up gradually. Preliminary examinations, based on last year's examination papers, will be held soon. The examinations are over. I did well except in English. It is unfortunate that we are speaking German most of the time, while our vocabularies are growing, our usage is not making much headway. Some Australian should come into the camp daily and talk to us for hours on end.
On 12th September 1941, Roosevelt speaks from the White House. We all listen in front of the hospital, the highest point in the camp. England is to receive all the help which it requires including ships, aeroplanes, etc. Surely, this is the first step towards America's involvement in the war. Hitler cannot turn back now. America offers the only means of ridding the world of this menace. What will come after Hitler? Who will study his actions and words and try to do a bit better? How will the Germans fare after this war?
One of these day's books will be written about what happened to individuals during these years. Not a novel, but simple documentaries in which sufficient joys and worries are mentioned to recreate the atmosphere. For me, at this stage, the worst is that no one wants us to contribute. We cannot really complain, as we have all the food we can eat, a bed, a palliass, even some diversions and opportunities for study. This must be for some people a life long tragedy, wanting and being able to give to others and not to be able to do so for reasons which are wrong and negative, be they political, religious, racial or simply personal. I study now because I want to have a degree which will one day place me in a position to create and give, not because I want to live much better than other people or want to possess many thing. These are not objectives as I view them. We learn and study to pass on, if we have the ability to do so. There are not too many people who can teach freely, and they must be able do it without impediments.
Front page of Volmann's collection of poems
For our matric examination we must read Shelley's "Prometheus Unbound": "Grief for a while is blind and so was mine. I wish no living thing to suffer pain. " These words should be written everywhere in giant letters so that no one can forget them.
I read John Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath". Are such books really a sign that something is being understood at last with respect to what man will do to man? Franz L. tells me that Germany's conditions did not differ. I never saw it, nor did I see too much of the Nazi atrocities which were there. Probably, Polish seasonal workers in East Prussia did not receive bad treatment, but this is only hindsight. Their existence did not touch mine. I am deeply depressed after reading that in the Thirties people in Poland died of hunger when the potato harvest failed. And that was close to where we lived in luxury!
We are being interviewed by a representative of the British Home Office who travelled all the way from England. Albin goes to see him and is informed that his "A" classification stands. It means that he cannot be released and is considered to be a Nazi. Albin is not easily aroused, but this time he told the major: " I am rather old already and tired. Al1 I want is rest and peace, but if there comes a letter saying that I am a dirty vagabond, I get very angry, because this is not true." I would have liked to see the face of the official when he said it. However, it is likely that it left little impression. Each of us is just a case, that is all; the bureaucracy to handle cases consists of positions. Therefore it is infinite and immortal.
"Children's verse" out of Volkmann's collection of poems
Spring is back. We did not freeze so much during the second Winter. We nevertheless are glad that it is getting warmer. It is very dry early this year.
The campaign in Russia has slowed down in front of Moscow. Our Russian teacher gives several lectures on the movements of the Russian front. I draw his maps and in this way become familiar with many of the place names. The suffering in that part of the world not so far from where we formerly lived must be beyond imagination.
Japan has attacked Pearl Harbour. The scale of the war is changing; our future will change in the wake of this event. We will now be in Australia until the end of hostilities at least, and before long they will use us. Everyone else also thinks so; it is now only a question of time. In fact, we have already been asked whether we will join an Australian Labour Corps. Although we would like to see equality in our position, no one is really prepared at this stage to argue the point. We want to get out of the camp and pull our weight, even if we cannot do our best as a result of stupid policies. What has happened to us is not of our own doing, nor did we deserve it. We will never find out how it came about.
New Year card 1942
In February 1942, the brothers and I receive another refusal to our application for release. Combined with a temporary breakdown of the line of communication with our parents, this period is another low point in our internment. We are fighting shadows, because that is all officials are, shadows which are hiding, because no one can find out how a decision has been reached. It would take a life-time to follow up one single decision, and who has got a life to spare for such a pursuit?
We are transferred back to our first Australian camp. However, the Nazis are no longer there. They have been replaced by the internees from the foredeck of the "Dunera" from whom we were separated more than one year ago. They went to Sydney, and from there to a camp near Hay in New South Wales. Suddenly I find myself in the company of many young people, many students and very good teachers. I am no longer at the top, but rather at the bottom of the spectrum of ability and knowledge. There are extraordinary chances to learn, in particular, mathematics. I rush in head over heels. A period of intense study begins as I try to catch up with the advances made by many of the students during the past year. At the same time, internees are being released to the Australian Employment Company. Felix Behrendt, one of our mathematics teachers, is even released to lecture at Melbourne University. He has two doctorates, from Berlin and Prague.
On 19th February 1942, the first air-raid on Australian soil occurs at Darwin. The papers are full of the event which has rocked the entire country, not only Darwin. Let it keep on rocking until it wakes up and our fences fall.
I have failed in last year's English examinations, while I have passed in all other subjects. There is going to be a supplementary examination; however, in Melbourne, my name has been omitted from the list, so there is some doubt whether my paper will be looked at. Margaret Holmes has started negotiations to obtain permission for me to proceed to the work of the first university year. Never anything goes straight. Why? I am disappointed, but I still hope that in the end this hurdle can be cleared. If I could only go to the university and attend to this matter myself. Maybe, I could persuade them to act. If I had my papers from Munich, I could have entered immediately the second year, and English might not at all be a problem.
Internment lacks the spirit which perhaps is present in an army unit on active duty. There, too, people are thrown together, but for a purpose. They depend on each other and comradeship must be a natural consequence. We have not come across such unity of purpose. Internees, particularly refugees who believe that they should not have been locked up in the first place, never get around to developing that sort of unity. They remain a collection of individuals each of them continuously scheming to get away from the others.
Now, that there is a chance of being matriculated and completing a course at the University of Melbourne, I am wondering whether I should join the army, if the permission to do so arrives. Suddenly I am haunted by the fear of reaching the end of the war in a foreign country without a qualification. When I raise the subject with my brothers, they are worried that such a decision might also keep them interned. It thus appears that I will have to go along, and then make an effort to get qualifications in spite of being in the army. I wonder how this can be done.
Many more people leave the camp for the 8th Australian Employment Company which consists only of internees from England, except for its officers and some of its non-commissioned officers. The internment camp is getting empty; we learn to say good bye daily, or is it au revoir?
On 12th May 1942, we are informed that we will be released on the next day to join the 8th Australian Employment Company. We have been interned 962 days. I was 19 years old when I entered, I leave at 22. I could have committed quite a few crimes for such a sentence. Our only crime has been to have been born in the wrong place and with the wrong ancestry and to have lacked the right contacts in a foreign country.
On the next morning, we are taken to the train and travel to Melbourne in the company of one of the soldiers from the camp. He does not carry a rifle this time. We look like everyone else on the train. Our thoughts are travelling back in time: we try to pierce the future. What will it be like to wear the uniform which guarded us for the past 20 months? Will I be able to study as a soldier? Will there be time and a place in the evening where I can study? What can be done about my matriculation?
Rainer Radok 1942 (Photo Helmut Newton)