Saturday, 25 February 2012

# 51 [24 November 2009]

Interview with Norbert herz, Holocaust survivor and Rivesaltes intern.

Section Four

Rivesaltes was a camp that didn’t only have Jews, it had Gypsies, it had all kinds of what they called undesirables, but the Jews were concentrated in Ilot K.

JMWere you able to mix with the other interns?

NH No.

What I remember clearly is that we were always waiting for the post, that was the only connection with the outside world – for parcels. We were always very hungry, the conditions were appalling and we always wanted some sign from somewhere.

Rivesaltes where the camp was, is military terrain ... they were trying to eradicate it, they were trying to make out that nothing happened there. I came across an army officer when I visited it in the late 80s or early 90s as a tourist whilst I was in the Pyrenees and we went to Rivesaltes. We walked in the camp in the area that was still ruins of barracks and all kind of things and an army officer came from out of the blue and said: “This is military terrain. What are you doing here?”. I said: “I beg your pardon, I was interned in this camp!” and he tried to make out there was no camp, there was no such thing.

JMI find that locals don’t want to talk about the camp and the things that went on there during the war.

NH - Nobody talks about it? I’m not surprised.

JMTell me a little more about your mother.

NH - My mother was liberated from Gurs. My mother survived because ... in the barrack for sick people, people were dying and they needed women who would sit with the dying. My mother wasn’t qualified for anything, but she sat with the sick and dying. People used to say to her: “You’re a fool. Why are you doing that”. She said: “Well, if I do that I shall survive”. And she was right.

When the deportation took place my mother had already been put on the lorry on the convoy supposed to take them to the station to ship them off. The doctor of the Ilot was there and wanted to check the list of people going, when he saw my mother’s name he said: “I need this woman to work” and she was taken off. So she was, it was a miracle and she was saved. Many other people lost their lives. And fathers? I don’t know where the fathers were, but certainly the mothers.

My mother was liberated and in 1945 I left Switzerland to go to Palestine, she followed in 1946 because I had decided to go to Palestine and obviously she wanted to be with me. That’s where my father was. My father had left us in 1933/34 in Berlin and that’s how we, if you like, were re-united in 1945/46.

No comments:

Post a Comment