Theft for favours

EXCERPT FROM THE LONG NIGHT

Fünfteichen

“My comrades and the Kapos liked to “visit” me because I was permitted without supervision to draw electrical equipment from the stores. It was 1944 and by this time electrical goods were a scarce commodity. Time and time again I was handed “orders” requesting electrical equipment, especially by the Kapos. At first, I was anxious about stealing these sought-after items, but very quickly I set aside these doubts.

… “As time went by my SS “clientèle” became more and more greedy. They pressed their demands for rubber cables and electrical equipment with increasing urgency. They bartered these contraband goods with farmers who lived in the neighbourhood, and typically would receive bacon and home brewed spirits in exchange. There was one order that was so outrageous it caused me a great deal of anxiety. An SS Block Leader demanded a large motor he wanted to barter with a farmer. I discussed how this might be “organised” with a Kapo who said he was willing to help me. The first thing I did was to busy myself with the ceiling light and pretend to the storeroom attendant that I had more work to do. I took advantage of his absence and removed a motor when he had to leave the room for a few moments.

soup-kettle-aushwitz-holocaust

A soup kettle, like this from Auschwitz Museum, made an audacious hiding place for stolen goods

With a great deal of effort I was able to conceal the motor under a big lathe. There remained the challenge of how to get the motor out of the machine hall, in itself no mean task when one took into consideration how closely the factory security service watched over the workforce; however we were the exception only because we were under the supervision of the SS. But even the SS was closely watched because it had become known that they too were interested in “scarce commodities” and had already successfully “organised” some items. A few kettles of soup were brought into the camp and distributed among us at lunchtime. What I had in mind was to hide the motor inside a kettle when they were returned to the camp. Obviously I could only do that during the lunch break when everyone was eating. The Kapo helped me by keeping “guard” and so we hid the heavy motor in a kettle. It found its way back into the camp in its unusual casing. “

Camp hierarchyFünfteichen campKaposSSSurvival
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