EXCERPT FROM THE LONG NIGHT

Märkstadt

“A new era of my camp life had begun. My Meister let me see newspapers and we had daily discussions about issues such as religion, politics or social problems. For me, the way to work was not only a welcome change but I also very much looked forward to it. It relieved me, at least for a few hours, from my world which consisted only of degradation and humiliation. Meister Hermann made me feel like a human being again, as opposed to a mere work slave; with him it was a given that I was treated as an equal and with respect.

Until that time, at intervals, we got post from home. More recently this connection with our families had been disrupted because we were no longer permitted to exchange letters. In this way, the Nazis kept secret from us how our homes in the ghetto had been searched. With increasing frequency we were threatened that if we escaped they would take revenge on our families.

When Hermann found out that I no longer got any news at all from my parents and siblings, he suggested to me that I should write a letter with his address on it, and that they should in turn address their post to him. I did as he suggested, and for a while I actually did receive letters from home. My parents sent me ration cards for grocery which Meister Hermann exchanged for bread for me. He also had a radio on which he could listen to English broadcasts. So I had access to a source of news which I was able to share with my comrades in the camp, who were naturally attentive when I gave them reports based on the English station. I also smuggled the daily newspaper that Hermann gave me each day into the camp. This was greatly valued by the camp “Prominenz”, so my reputation and prestige was enhanced.”

ration-card-1942

The front side of a special ration card [Sonderkarte] issued to the Jewish Council of Rzeszow by the General Government. [USHMM courtesy Jack J. Silverstein]

Camp hierarchyFriendshipMarkstädt campMeister Wilhelm HermannRighteous GentilesUpstander
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