After four years I’m finally coming back to this memoir. I’d like to finish it while memories are still floating in my mind. At times I’m overwhelmed by panic that there isn’t much time left. I’m 84.
I’m glad that Dad’s whole story in captivity is told in a short biography for Hadouch’s Lamsdorf-Lambinowice museum in Poland. In this new post I’ve added a few details.
You can read Part 3 here.
In Captivity – The Kind Oberatzt
Officer Wanemacher wasn’t the only military man who wasn’t a sympathiser of Hitler’s view of the world and his objectives.
There was a German doctor at Teschen, a major, who was the head surgeon in the camp hospital. He was a very kind man. He would play a major role in a drama that nearly cost my dad his life. Both of his conscripted sons had already perished, one on the Russian front, the other in Egypt. He had tears in his eyes when he was telling this to my father.
Dad was at Teschen from September 1941 to September 1942.
Here food was better than at Lamsdorf, and prisoners also received International Red Cross parcels. Sometimes the prisoners did not receive all the provisions they were due, and my father complained to the officer in charge. That was not appreciated by the German authorities of the camp. What they disliked even more was my father’s constant approval of the English, the Russians, the Americans and the French. He finally received a written warning to change his behaviour or else the consequences might not be very pleasant for him, nor for his wife and daughter in Zagreb, Croatia (a nominally independent state, but in reality under German rule), as they could be sent to England or Russia.
I understand the gist of this letter, but I intend to ask a German friend to translate it. The details should make for a very interesting read.
At the end of the letter, the German censor threatens to withdraw the privilege of receiving and sending mail if he doesn’t mend his ways.
But he ends the letter with kind words: ” I wish you only well.”
What the Germans didn’t know and never found out, luckily, was the forging of documents that took place in his room, using a German typewriter he borrowed on the pretext of wanting to type up medical reports. The main forger was a talented prisoner who also drew my portrait from a photograph my mother sent Dad.
A perfect likeness, don’t you think?… And a perfect forger!
By the way, this white teddy bear is the one I hugged and covered in tears when my dad left to go to war. I was six then, more like I was in the next photo my mother sent him to Teschen.
A winter photo. I was almost seven. Dad hadn’t seen me for a year.
The back of the above photo. This is my mother’s writing. I didn’t know how to write yet. “To Dad, Ika”, which is my nickname. It took about a month to get to Teschen. Dad recorded it in red pencil, in the Cyrillic script. Whenever possible he was loyal to his national script.
All correspondence was censored, naturally, and stamped Geprűft- Examined. I remember well the letters from Dad with blacked out lines all over the place. At least he was still allowed to write to us.
To be continued
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