Saturday, 25 February 2012

# 49 [24 November 2009]

Interview with Norbert Herz, Holocaust survivor and Rivesaltes intern.

Section Two

Then in 1942, summer, I had the bright idea to visit my aunt and uncle. My uncle was a very unwell person. In those days it was possible for unwell people not to be interned. He got a ‘Résidence assigné’ in Gaillac-sur-Tarn. I wanted to go there, so they gave me a train ticket and I was able to go to Gaillac-sur-Tarn. I was there in the summer with them and I had a very nice time, you know how it is in French little towns with the foire and all that. Then in the middle of the night there was a knock on the door. Two Gendarmes said: “You’ve got half an hour to pack your things. We are taking you to an internment camp in Albi”. When we arrived in the middle of the night in Albi, I said to the Gendarme: “If I have to be in an internment camp I want to be with my mother”. They assigned a Gendarme to me and we travelled through the night to Rivesaltes. In those days it had a train station. When we arrived in the morning he took me to the Ilot which was reserved for the Jews, Ilot K. He posited me there and off he went. Then I started looking for my mother. Quite by chance I saw my mother, so . . . you know, the emotional thing.

We slept in wooden barracks and in bunks, she put me next to her. The second time I was there people were dying from hunger, from disease, all sorts. They also had started deportations to, I don’t know where initially, perhaps Drancy and then from there to the extermination camps. They put us, as children, in a children’s barrack for the day until the deportations were over. When it was finished those mothers who were there who had not been deported came to collect the children and my mother among them. There were a lot of children who never saw their mothers again, it was very tragic. Some of these kids were even younger that I was at the time.

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