About the translation:
By posting the biography of John Murray Forman from an English text provided by his cousin Kent Fraser, I thought it was necessary that the entire site will be bilingual.
I speak English but with many mistakes. So I helped in the translation tool from Google (which has its limits). I tried to correct them. But it will probably remain a lot of mistakes.
English readers did not hesitate to report them to me!
Testimony of Jean Virlogeux, Deportee - Resistant Auvergne
Chevalier of the Legion of Honor
Croix de guerre 1939-1945 with palm
Combatant Volunteer of Resistance
With these few lines, my desire is to share my experience as a young resistant arrested by the Gestapo and deported to a Nazi concentration camp during World War of 1939-1945.
To locate events in early 1941, my father Peter Virlogeux, “Commandant Vernier” in the Resistance, founded with some friends, an intelligence network in the region of Riom (Puy de Dome) where there was industrial network working with the English (Networks Buckmaster – S.O.E.) and from June 1942 will be integrated in the M.U.R. (United Movements of Resistance) Auvergne which he became a major contributor.
In January 1942, when I just turned fifteen and my request, my father took me with him as liaison officer, thinking that my scout activities and sports can allow me to serve the Resistance.
"About Scouting activities": Jean Virlogeux belongs to the secular branch of the Scout Movement. It exists a Christian and a Jewish movement. As such, he had at the time of the debacle of 1940 to accommodate refugees at the railway station of Riom
"At my request": The story has since been confirmed by a witness, wants at the age of 15 years, it is mounted in the mountains with a friend to join him in the bush, when he ignored the activities his father. Reduced manu-militari by guerrillas who knew the duties of his father, then it is associated with resistance actions.
Then from June 1943, I participated in operations conducted in the Region of Riom, drops, raids against the German deposits and the “Chantiers de Jeunesse” for supplying the guerrillas, sabotage of railways and power lines. I still brighten up my business with a network connection of the Allier, where my father had a property near Forest Tronçais and where he had helped in the establishment of a network and a "maquis".
Until the end of 1943, all goes relatively well, despite some reactions of the Germans and especially the Gestapo, whose headquarters was located in Vichy, 30 km from Riom.
But in early 1944, the Gestapo became increasingly active and February 8, 1944, while I sleep quietly in my room on the second floor of the house of my parents, I am suddenly awakened by a young woman (Ursula Brandt) with a strong German accent, which at gunpoint, made me get up, dress up and get on the first floor where I found my father framed by two agents of the Gestapo machine guns trained on him while in the bedroom of my patents, my mother ended dress the threat of a gun held by one who led the operation, a French former St. Cyr (some place like West Point, USA), who became chief of the Gestapo for the region of Clermont-Ferrand: Mathieu. It was six o'clock in the morning.
Memory is a fragile thing. Upon his arrest, this is the testimony of Jean Virlogeux. As witnessed first hand, it is difficult to challenge. But one, if not two stories diverge from this narrative. We will report in a timely manner and seek to draw the consequences.
Jean Virlogeux was my father. Without questioning the love and respect I have for him and I've always worn, scientific rigor force me to confront the arguments that are neither neutral nor without consequences
We were quickly transferred by car to the main barracks of Riom today Lycée Claude et Pierre Virlogeux and placed in cells in the punishment block. I could contact my father who was in the cell next to mine and then he recommended me to play the innocent, him taking care to tell the Gestapo that he was the only family to join the network . The Gestapo also stopped the good of my parents and my maternal grandparents and my brother then aged eleven, who lived in a house fifty yards from the house of my parents, which suggests that the Gestapo was very knowledgeable about the available places.
That day, the Gestapo arrested forty-three people in Riom, being very well informed through the documents fell into their hands some time sooner.
Jean Virlogeux refers to an episode that will be a special page so it is importan
By late afternoon, I was taken to a building where the Gestapo had installed to make the first interrogation. Arriving in the building I saw my father dragged by two German soldiers, he could not walk and his face was bleeding. It was the last time I had seen and I never knew if he recognized me.
I had a right to an examination conducted by Mathieu and the German had got out of bed: Ursula Brandt called "the Panther" because of his cruelty, assisted by another German named Blumenkampf who I later learned was butcher before the war, he was specifically responsible for bumping.
According to other sources (to which we will have the opportunity to return), the name of Ursula Brandt: "The Panther" was not to his cruelty (even if it is proven) but the simple fact she wore a regular coat (fake or real) panther skin. But the fight against the use of fur was not valid.
As for Blumenkampf, it was not only the "gross" of SD Clermont-Ferrand but more "simply" the Chief.
Despite slapping, punching, “convertibles that I shook his wrists” (?) and a rifle butt in the middle of my jaw broke several teeth, as I denied me my father had suggested, doing the idiot, but I confess I cried under the blows and I was very afraid.
Then as it was getting late, the night was long since fallen, it took me not in cells but in a room located above the guard at the barracks. There, I live in a room adjoining my mother, my grandmother, my brother and good and two other women unknown to me. In another room were the police captain of Riom and the priest of Boulanges, a town of Lorraine evacuated by the Germans since 1940 and whose father employed several people in her company. The German soldiers of the guard to watch us, brought us each a bowl of soup and a piece of bread we had not eaten since monday morning.
The next morning, my mother and I were transferred to other resistant stopped us at the military prison at Clermont-Ferrand (installed in the premises of the 92nd RI - Infantery Regiment), other family members being released.
I learned on my return from Germany, as in the night, my father, to be sure not to talk under torture, had killed himself in his cell, which had confused the people of the Gestapo had to get good information about the Resistance in Auvergne, for whom he was a very important person.
Mathieu, who directed all the operations carried me even Riom in the factory where he wanted me to indicate the location of depots of arms that he knew existed, but I continued despite the beatings and threats of death, play who was not aware of anything pretending my youth and my studies to justify the fact that my father had not been aware, that obviously it was hard to believe. We passed yet several times over without the Gestapo not noticing.
After this last interview, I was placed in a cell with five other prisoners that I did not know, but it was softer than the secret. Every day, we went out into the yard for a walk of ten minutes, which allowed me to see my mother who was in a room of women with a window overlooking the courtyard and gesture to communicate with her.
In this period of 1944, the winter was very cold and they had no heating. On the other hand, your food was very poor and we lost pounds quickly. Fortunately, my grandparents came to pass, despite the excavations that were not very effective, as performed by soldiers of the Wehrmacht who allow themselves more or less, buy a little food just completed the daily rations. The guards, including the sergeant who commanded the guard, not too hard, except when the Gestapo officers were there.
In early March, we learned one day that we had been tried by German military tribunal of Clermont and sentenced to death for terrorism, but there were only five executions that took place following an attack against a German detachment in streets of Clermont, who made several dead and many injured. In retaliation, the Germans executed five members of the network and hostages taken at random from the streets of Clermont.
It is called “the attack of the Postern" which will be a special entry on this site.
On the evening of April 19, Adjutant prison came to fetch me for me to say "goodbye" to my mother and we had a few minutes to talk to us, it was like me no news of my father and thought that the German 'was taken to Vichy where was the big boss of the Gestapo for the region: "Geissler". It was the last time I could kiss her. The next day I went to Compiegne. As for. my mother in May, she left for Romainville and beyond, in July, for the Ravensbrück camp where she died of exhaustion, 10 (11) November 1944.
On April 20, 1944 early morning, with about fifty prisoners, was transferred by truck tarp and under guard at the goods station of Clermont-Ferrand and we were divided in two cattle trucks, about 25 per car with six feldgendarms in each car. We stayed in port until mid-afternoon, then the wagons in a freight train we went to Paris. Around five o'clock we arrived at the station of Moulins where a dozen prisoners from the prison of Moulins got into our car. We sat on the ground unable to move, the feldgendarms occupying the whole middle of car.
After a long wait, our cars were detached from the train and a locomotive we took over and bypassing Paris, we arrived at Compiegne, April 21 evening. We then made the trek from the station to camp Royallieu walk through the city framed by many soldiers commanded by an SS officer. We arrived at camp at night and we were locked in a shed with a mattress, a bowl of soup and a piece of bread.
The next day we were registered on the records of the camp and registered, I had the number 32,930 and I was assigned to barracks 3 room 7, A. Camp As he was fine, we could spend the day outside the call between the morning and evening, the camp had expanded very large areas of grass between the barracks where we could stay the day with books that we could take library. This will change the prison of 92 (NR - Infantry Regiment) in Clermont.
On 26 April I was called with 150 prisoners on the parade ground. Order was given to us to make our luggage because we had to leave the next day commando (NR - Kommando should be the correct spelling). We took the train from old passenger cars well maintained and in the afternoon we arrived at Gare de l'Est in Paris. From there, buses took us to Paris of the “Fort de l’Est” where we were installed in old ammunition bunker that was converted into a dormitory with straw and blankets.
The day after the call at five o'clock in the morning, we were divided by six teams, each guarded by six soldiers of the Wehrmacht and the bus carried us to the station of Noisy-le-Sec bombed a few days before.
We explained that we had to find unexploded ordnance in the ground to defuse and remove. There were already teams from Drancy Jews who worked there since the bombing had skipped several tonnes of bombs on demand. Suffice to say that the work was dangerous and that is why we were responsible, no matter the Germans that we jumped since we were doomed.
I was lucky not to jump. There was also an escape, which we very nearly fatal for the SS lieutenant who commanded the detachment would shoot anyone who remained, but the commander of the Fort, a Wehrmacht officer managed to oppose it.
On 20 May, it was my turn to be transferred to Camp C and May 21, at daybreak, 1986 prisoners went through the streets of Compiegne under curfew and desert to board at 100 per car in the car cattle "Men, 40 - horses, 8 in long." Leaving camp, we had each received a loaf of bread and a sausage pie and we had our luggage with us as we were well advised to take. In each car, there was a barrel to relieve us and the openings were filled with barbed wire. When the cars were full, the doors were closed and sealed and the train started. It took less than an hour to carry the load.
In my car, we were standing, but quickly got the heat and some prisoners organized a tour for everyone to get breathing openings. Despite this, some sick, stretched on the ground at risk of being trampled. During the first night, nine prisoners escaped from a car passing in the Ardennes. The train stopped and those who remained in the car were dispatched to the other cars which further reduces the space available.
On May 22, the train passed by Treves, Koblentz, Lüneburg, Eberbach. The second night comes and brings some freshness, for the day the sun heats the roof. On May 23, other stations, Erfurt, and we arrived in Weimar. There, the train splits into two and a half starts again from the station, I'm in it. After driving through the woods, we arrived at the Buchenwald camp, we believe we arrived. No, the train moves backward, hangs up the cars left in Weimar and we start over from Germany to the north by Halle, Berlin, Wittenberg, Luneburg again. In the car, there are already two dead and two or three prisoners went mad. In late evening we arrived in Hamburg, through the openings we see that the city is almost completely destroyed. We did not even force us to rejoice because we are after and we can take much longer.
.... There is a break in the text, which on the next page, contains the story of the day on May 24 ...
[... and two or three prisoners have gone mad, we are May 24, we have already spent four days and three nights in the car, we are all exhausted, very sick and we die of thirst because during the trip, have been able to drink only once during our visit to Lunenburg where the head of the convoy was still stopped the train and was taken to distribute the fountain supply of the locomotive. In late evening we arrived in Hamburg, through an opening we see that the city is largely destroyed, but we did not even force us to rejoice because we are after and we can no longer take much longer .]
Finally, May 24, about 16 hours, the train reaches the concentration camp Neuengamme and Hamburg, it is almost with relief that we leave cars despite hitting SS and dogs that bite. We are doing our first step in the Nazi concentration camp hell.
As I had be recommended a by an alsacian policema, in prison with me in Clermont, I declared myself not a student but I pretended electrician. I was number 31,392 and I had to learn this issue in German by heart because the calls were made in German and one must be able to speak German to each request from an SS or a Kapo or a Head Block.
We were assigned to a quarantine block with half a mattress for everyone and we received notes ladle of soup and rutabaga our first piece of black bread. The barracks chief, prisoner of German law, prevailed on its residents to blows with batons and then we took consciousness of the universe where we landed. We were not allowed to enter the block between the calls of morning and evening and we had to stand all day in a confined space that we could just turn in circles.
On May 28, new change, new shower and new outfit, pajamas striped gray and blue uniforms of all Konzentrationlager the Third Reich. We touch each pajamas striped cloth, a shirt and underpants, a pair of clogs, wooden sole and canvas uppers, a small enamel bowl for soup and a spoon, no fork or knife, is prohibited and severely punished. We have to sew our number and our red triangles on our jackets and our trousers, which is not obvious because we have nothing to do, he must fend for themselves.
We then made up for by the Kommando "Fallersleben" which includes about 750 prisoners including 400 French, the rest being Russians, Poles, Spaniards, Belgians, Dutchmen, etc ... and above thirty rights common German will become the Kapos, Forarbeits Block and Heads of our Kommando.
On the evening of May 29, we loaded into cattle trucks, 80 wagons, and we create a new Kommando dependent plant Hermann Goering, KDF Stadt den Wagen (Note: Volkswagen) south of the State Brunswick where we come in late the next afternoon.
We arrived at the station Fallersleben and we walk to the camp located on a hill about 4 kilometers from the station. The camp is installed, it includes four blocks of eight rooms each and every room, 24 beds on two floors with a mattress and a blanket. The camp is surrounded by barbed son to a height of three meters and passes a current of 20,000 volts. At the top of poles, small lights illuminate the path that follows the barbed wire around the camp. A great vantage point located opposite the entrance to the camp, equipped with machine guns and two powerful spotlights that monitors the camp day and night. Other watchtowers are smaller in every corner of the camp is not very large, about 500 on 50 meters. It is situated beside a grove of oaks.
On arrival we randomly assigned in blocks and as there are many nationalities, it just is not very good, some are wary of all the world, Russians and Poles Ies
trying to dominate others.
Also at the request of the French majority and after several days of discussion with the SS, the Head of Internal camp, a German political prisoner interned for ten years, gets the French are grouped in the same blocks, which we facilitated by the Following many life and certainly helped save the lives of many of us.
I took the opportunity to join some young prisoners, former Scouts like me and we managed to accommodate us in the same room and stay throughout our captivity Fallersleben together, which allowed us to support us when one of us had a blow or fall ill, mutual support and cohesion was a condition of survival, where forced labor, the brutality of the SS and the Kapos and the cold of winter were the daily it to the big mess in the end, when the evacuation camp in April 1945
Inside the camp the SS had entrusted the supervision and discipline of Kapos, of common criminals, mostly criminal and all happy to take revenge on us. Fortunately the head inside the camp internee anti-Nazi with a red triangle as we well as the Kapo of the Revier (Infirmary), also a politician, calmed the brutes, and sometimes avoided the worst in some of our companions in misery . At the head of each block, a block leader, also coemon law, which maintained the law in his own way and at the head of the customer. With my young comrades we feared particularly dear to our block, Hoffman, loudmouth homosexual who tried to draw us into his room.
The first day was spent after the morning roll call to form the columns of work that will be responsible for building a city worker on behalf of the Volkswagen factory "people's car". There will be diggers, masons, carpenters, operators, electricians I would and various other columns, but ultimately the work will be done in Sandstone fantasy SS and civil engineers of the Deutch Bau company responsible for building the city for Volkswagen
Some deportees among older will be assigned to the maintenance of the camp under the command of the barracks chief and the Chief Internal trying to help those in need. A young French medical student with very limited resources and the complicity of the infirmary Kapo, politics as we try to alleviate the sufferings of his comrades throughout our stay at Fallersleben.
That planted the scenery and for eleven months, we will live in this camp mad at pace with the solar plays, because there is no question of going on site at night. because of the risk of escape. To live, the fourth morning of warm water called coffee, lunch and dinner, a liter of clear soup with Rutabaga and more the evening a morsel of bread to about 250 grams a piece of margarine as big as your thumb and a small slice of sausage which we could never determine the composition.
Camp life was well paced: the morning alarm clock an hour before sunrise whatever time he does, then rally on the parade ground for the counting and inspection SS, there were those patients or injured trying to gain admittance to the hospital but rare were those accepted, work first and the SS is good fun to lose a few "Stuck", others replace them. Then columns of training and start work on projects that extend over several hectares but are monitored from watchtowers around mobile and SS patrolling with dogs.
I do not describe the life of this commando "day by day" during this period spent Fallersleben should be at least as many pages as days since they were all different, but some moments that have most influenced my stay in the prison service forced the Reich.
First tragic episode, the day of the Normandy landings. Despite the isolation, the SS and barbed wire, the news quickly June 6, 1944 (?) And the behavior of SS that day would suffice to make us understand that something was important. It happened in an indescribable madness, each SS up their sleeves for bumping while the deportees were trying to manifest their joy and hope to get early release, we already saw at Christmas at home, we had a lot of illusions. For several days, the SS profited very excited the slightest pretext to enter and shoot.
It was during this period took place an incident that reinforced our fear of violent reactions of SS. A young Russian who worked in a trench of water in the woods near the camp tried to escape. It was soon found by the dogs of the SS and killed by a gunshot that blew his skull. It was brought to the camp and stretched naked on the parade ground with the brain in the womb.
On our return from work, Oberscharführer "grape vine" and NCOs forced us to file past the body of our comrade and spit on him, who did not comply were rewarded with a volley of nerve Beef and must pass before and run. The foul was at its height and after a long evening call full of threats and deprived of soup and bread we returned to our rooms with this nightmare for me that was never erased
Next to this murderous madness, the SS amounted sometimes generous. Sunday was rest day, but it was also the day of cleaning ourselves first meeting with wash, beard and head, shower and change of shirt and shorts that went to washing and disinfection as management camp and the factory had an obsessive fear of lice that might spread typhus, a disease fatal to time because there was no known treatment in Germany and as we were in contact with civilians or workers Free on site, should not run the risk of an epidemic.
It also happened that Sunday, the plant sends a food supplement and whether there were enough of us were entitled to a distribution, because the first to use were the Kapos and block heads under their position they profited greatly. We were also right, each week a package of Russian cigarettes bad data even plant by way of pay. They served as currency and for my part, I bartered cons of bread or other foods because hunger never subsided.
Another dramatic episode
during the summer, the Volkswagen factory was bombed.
A first wave of night shook the huts, the DCA, very high around the plant, is unleashed, a plane is shot down in flames near the camp and red shells that fall through the roof very thin, we have put us under the beds. Second wave in the morning while we're on the site, we collect SS at the edge of the woods and we are witnessing the bombardment of the plant by about fifty bombers "Liberator" flying at high altitude that the DCA does not.
Fortunately, we're five miles from the factory as all the bombs do not reach their goal and there will be among the prisoners of war and foreign workers who work in and around the plant. All camps located near the plant together tens of thousands of people and many will be hit by bombs.
For us, the day was hell. The SS began furiously to make us move from station Fallersleben, located three kilometers from the site of large concrete rubble weighing thirty pounds. We had to go the route running and the SS and the Kapos, distributed along the trail, we suddenly harassed by Schlag helped dogs bite. Anyone who fell was beaten until he gets up and leave with his office. Arriving on site, there was the rubble would run and seek another. This lasted until night, ie very late because we were in June, the period of the longest days. After this meeting, there were several dead, many injured and exhausted prisoners and many of us do not handed it
In principle, I was an electrician, but our main job was to service a concrete plant where they wielded the shovel and especially bags of cement, it was very hard for malnourished practically meal, but it was a very popular item, because when the site did not need concrete, it happened that our Kapo, who although loudmouth was not too bad, we left the station when she was not running We take the opportunity to doing nothing and rest.
It was the game of cat and mouse, it should not be taken by an SS or Kapo, one of us kept watch while others rested or fiddling with the tools of the central . We began to manufacture knives with steel shovels because we had realized that it was an excellent bargaining chip in the camp, the knives are banned, all was not to make that happen. I still have a folding knife that I had made in a piece of shovel with a simple chisel and hammer and the iron wheel of the mixer as an anvil. It was very dangerous but it was worth it because we can hardly do without a knife used to everything and in return we could get food, which for us was our main concern, without these adjuncts we could not long resist the plan of the camp.
About the month of October, the days get shorter and intense cold settling, the activity on the construction site diminished. Then, the SS we employed in earthworks. It was very hard because we suffer lot of cool because we were no longer covered in summer rations decreased at the same time as the situation in Germany deteriorated before the Allied advance east and west and, as a result of the bombing became more and more destructive. Our hope of living out of this hell also decreased from day to day. That's when I really thought it was over for me.
The SS took them all ... .. to help Russian prisoners to build an underground factory. It was a deep quarry dug into a rocky hill which was covered with a thick layer of concrete gradually as it progressed. Russian prisoners were drilling holes and mine after the explosion we had to load the blocks in trucks we would empty into a ravine.
It was very painful, but we, my team decided to sabotage the work, and we sent our little car with stones and tools at the bottom of the ravine. Despite all precautions, we caught and we thought that the SS would kill us, they did not. But the evening we returned to camp, we were treated to the famous "FUNF UND ZWANZIG," the 25 strokes of the whip on the lower back, applied to the whole camp and the SS, on roll call by Kapo too happy to make the zeal to them. This is where I appreciated having good friends to help me because I stayed over a week without being able to sit or lie on my back while continuing to work and without them, I do know what I would now, fifty years later, I still feel the aftereffects.
Time passes, the month of December arrives with a cold more intense, the thermometer falls below the regular least twenty-five. To protect ourselves from the cold, we use the empty bags of cement used to make sweaters that we put under the jacket to wrap our feet and head, we no longer have a shaved head but a cross made to the mower on top of the head, we try to laugh, but the use of bags take a beating when one realizes SS, fortunately, they released under their barracks because of the cold. However, despite everything, he begins to have cold feet and the hospital is constantly storming. Our young comrade doctor does everything he can to relieve their comrades, but it did little to heal and the dead are more numerous. Many of us come back with traces of the winter of 1944-1945 and today, fifty years later I still feel the effects of frostbite in the feet and hands.
Around December 10, the snow comes and aggravates the situation because we have nothing to protect us and we walk almost naked feet, which does not bother the Russians who are more accustomed than we cold. But we do not go more than a few hours a day because the nights are long and with permanent alert, there is no question of us working by the light projectors. In the rooms, it is very cold, because if we have a small stove, we have nothing to put in it except the few pieces of plates stolen from the site and returned to camp in the legs of trousers trying not to be taken.
A few days before Christmas, a fellow Alsatian managed to escape, knowing perfectly the German, who could obtain civilian clothes with civilian construction workers, he managed to cross the line of SS guards watching the site in broad daylight and only the call that evening we noticed his disappearance. The cold and snow does not facilitate the research and at eleven o'clock, the SS decide that all the French spend the night on the square. The thermometer is below twenty-five and it snows. We are tightening against each other to form a single bloc and, in turn, we pass to the center to get warm but this is not very effective and, when at dawn we can finally enter the barracks, under let up on several of our companions died of cold and exhaustion. The time to drink our coffee quarter of pretended and we start on site. The day was particularly painful and tragic episode that will leave many traces on most part of us.
It is at the same time we learned that the attack against the Germans at Bastogne and Germany announced a major victory and they were pushing the allies to the coast. We do not know what was too much truth and the propaganda, but for us it was bad news because it meant that our ordeal would be prolonged. Fortunately, this warning was short but it is certain that this delayed our release of a few weeks and did not go up the morale of the prisoners who were already not very good.
On Christmas day, we had the right to rest, it must be said that the SS who partied all night, refreshed by new entrants in the western front, were hardly able to get us out, there will not even call. However, we began to despair of the arrival of the end of this nightmare, the morale of many of us dropped day by day, and some, among the lowest subscription and left to die without reaction.
On March 31, 1945, a Kommando Neuengamme from Munden farther west than we are evacuated cers our camp before the American advance and we find more than 1,200 prisoners in a camp for under 750. From that moment everything was disorganized and the construction stopped. Two days later, a second Kommando from Porta, joins us, the prisoners of this camp are very low and invaded by lice that spread in the camp, at the same time spreading typhus in their possession.
On 7 April, the SS decide to evacuate us, we already hear the American guns. By late evening, in an indescribable mess, we leave the camp. With some roommates, we had a great desire to hide and await the arrival of Americans. But the fear of being discovered by the SS with dogs being the highest, we also go
It is the beginning of a long march that will take us two days to a station 60 kilometers from the camp, one of Fallersleben being out of service, routes being cut. The SS who accompany us became enraged and recover for the help of young Hitler Jungen even more fanatical. Throughout the course, we are constantly harassed, beaten, we have nothing to eat or drink. It is a death march for this column that stretches over a kilometer, there are many who fall on the roadside and the young Hitler Youth did not hesitate to complete a weapon borrowed from the SS. The evening of the second day, we finally arrive at a station but more than one hundred prisoners remained on the edge of the road and we're exhausted.
We believe that our ordeal is over, it was only the beginning. The train on which we ride is composed of disparate cars, cattle cars, coal dump cars, cars with two floors for the transport of pigs or sheep with walls of slatted. I am fortunate to ride in a boxcar as it still freezes very night, but I lost most of my classmates and I found myself alone among Russian and Polish, and more in the scramble to climb in the car, my glasses that I had managed to keep so far have been broken and I can not see very clear. Finally, I managed to settle down in my blanket hanging in a corner of the car and not moving, completely exhausted.
The train starts and begins a long odyssey through Germany. The SS first we want to bring Neungamme where we arrive after three days because the movement is difficult, the roads being cut in many places and frequent alerts. We're exhausted, we have neither eaten nor drunk since we left, fights broke out in the car, it's every man for himself. I managed to find some French and we try to protect clashes between Russian and Polish. After three days of travel, there are several dead in the car where we are a hundred. The SS had closed all the openings and the air is unbearable, we are devoured by lice and there is not a toilet.
On arrival at Neungamme, the doors are open, we can evacuate the dead on the edge of the track and with my French friends we take this opportunity to go back in a car where the French are in majority. The camp had been evacuated to Lubeck, the English because it's close, we leave to the east.
En route, the train often stops in the woods because Allied aircraft to attack anything that rolls and the SS does not want us to leave. We do not understand is the debacle but they continue to evacuate us. During a stop, we must remove the cars and died in a car with two floors, I found the body of the father of one of my classmates, a miner of Montceau-les-Mines, we put on the edge track with its registration number plate prominently in the hope they find him one day. That day, we are given a little bread and water and biscuits from a freight train was looted.
Finally, April 15, after driving for seven days we arrived near a camp near Wöbbelin Ludwigslust about sixty of the Baltic Sea and thirty miles east of the Elbe were arrested when troops U.S., under the Yalta agreements.
Every day there are hundreds of dead that we must evacuate in mass graves dug in the sandy woods near the camp, we must make four to wear a body is a skeleton, that is the worst thing I've ever made. I only open a few days because the food is virtually nonexistent, I grow weaker day by day, April 23, I lie on the floor of a hut reserved for the sick. I have no strength to get up, I typhus and dysentery.
In this camp, no organization, either administrative or physical, only one water point with a hand pump to thousands of deportees (the exact number will never be known) as the Kommandos other concentration camps were evacuated camp originally intended to house Russian prisoners of war. He comes across Germany and Poland, women from Ravensbrück, Jews at Auschwitz Deportees of Kommandos Dachau and Buchenwald.
On 1 May 1945, the camp is the general panic, the SS evacuated the camp want a train parked near the camp is filled with deportees valid, but spotted by British aircraft that have seen men in pajamas removed in wagons, they cut the track with a few bombs blocking the train. On the evening of May 1, the deportees are returned to the camp and the SS are very agitated. Everyone thinks that we will liquidate the gun because many are battery to the camp entrance. They do not enter the camp because they are afraid of typhus and, at night, can not hear them.
On the morning of May 2, a surprise awaits us. The SS left and from that moment on, everything will go very quickly. The deportees still valid cluster near the camp entrance, but nobody dares to go out for fear that the SS were stationed in the woods surrounding the camp, ready to shoot. But suddenly, at 14.15, an American patrol jeep arrived at the entrance. The doors open and it's a huge uproar in the camp, "the Americans arrived", I found the strength to get up to see the first U.S. soldiers who return to the camp, but soon I dropped to the mid-body piled on the floor. Beside me, a young priest of the Doubs, which was in our youth group since our arrival at Neuengamme died moments later, it was us who had most contributed to maintaining the cohesion of our group and its disappearance I scored badly.
Quickly, the U.S. health services are there but they are overwhelmed by the magnitude of the disaster. Many of the deportees are still alive, but most of them had typhus in a more or less advanced and it dies every moment. But doctors, nurses and U.S. soldiers organize the transfer of patients to a hospital quickly installed in an old cavalry barracks Ludwigslust about ten miles from Wobblin and evening, I find myself for the first time since my arrest in a bed with sheets after being stripped of my pajamas, deloused and washed for several days since I emptied my pants, unable to move.
For me, hell was over, but I was not out of business, typhus progressed and it is only through patience and aggressive treatment of American doctors helped by French doctors released a prison camp, I survived. I stayed in hospital until June 24 and after spending several days in a semi-coma, I redid the surface and from that moment, I regained hope to go home. Meanwhile, Germany had capitulated.
At the hospital, speaking English, I learned the circumstances of our liberation. U.S. troops arrived on the banks of the Elbe belonged to the 82nd Airborne Division already liberation of two concentration camps. Preventable April 30, the presence of 30 kilometers in front of them to a camp where there were thousands of spirits of deportees died of exhaustion and illness, they cross the Elbe on a boat deck in the night of 1 to May 2 and reached 14 hours before the camp that the SS had abandoned in the night. The area was where the camp was to be occupied by the Russians but an agreement was reached between General Gavin, who commanded the 82ème Airborne and the Russians, who allowed the U.S. health services to support all of the deportees and to build a hospital on up as many of us were outsized like me.
On 24 June we are transported by ambulance by the Americans to Lüneburg because the Russians want to see American troops evacuated their zone of occupation.
The 26 an aircraft of U.S. Air Forces me back with many prisoners at Le Bourget. To me, this is one of the happiest days of my life because it is true that in the last days of captivity, I did not get out more. It was truly a miracle for twenty four hours later, I would have probably succumbed to typhus.
In Paris, I passed first talking repatriation center of Ivry where I first experienced a thorough medical examination followed by an interrogation that lasted late into the night for the French intelligence services were concerned that we are among collaborators or militias, where even the German Nazis who try to flee. When I arrived at the center, I was able to warn the family that I had in Paris by a young Scout that served him giving a phone number I had kept in memory, which enabled them to me recover my arrival at the Hotel Lutetia where to spend all deportees repatriated. This is where I learned the voluntary death of my father and mother who died of exhaustion at Ravensbrück, 10 (11) November 1944.
On my return to Paris, I weighed only forty kilos, and when I release the medical record established by the U.S. indicated twenty-eight kilos, barely more than the weight of the skeleton of an adult and almost three times less than during my arrest.
This is how I spent fifteen months of World War II, a period that marked me deeply and I will never forget, even if over time the memories are somewhat mitigated. And if I wrote those few pages that are far from containing all that I have seen and suffered during this terrible stay in the hands of the Gestapo and des SS is for those who read them, do not forget that human nature is capable of any excess, as soon as more despicable and must be preserved by all possible means of totalitarian regimes .