“Dear Mum, we’re hungry …”

The brothers Hans and Ernst Siegel reached the Mittelbau concentration camp in early 1945 on one of the murderous transports from Auschwitz. After their arrival, the two young men from Barmen found themselves living in disastrous conditions. In one of his few letters from Mittelbau, dated 1 March 1945, Hans vividly describes their situation to the family:

“Healthwise I’m alright except for my feet, which are sore from marching. […] Dear Mum, we’re hungry; please send us some bread or something else to eat if possible […]. Because here it’s unfortunately not as good as in A. [Auschwitz].”

Hans did not survive the inhuman living conditions. He died in the turmoil of the camp’s final days. His younger brother lived to be liberated, but camp imprisonment had debilitated him so severely that he died a few weeks later.

(Felix Roth)

Reference: Jan Niko Kirschbaum and Ulrike Schrader, “‘Das Leben hat mich schwierig gemacht.’: Der Nachlass von Ruth Cunning, geb. Siegel, in der Sammlung Föhse”, Geschichte in Wuppertal 24 (2015), pp. 119–39.