His Father’s Death

He had talked to his son Bertrand just the night before – like he had every night since he had been in the infirmary. Now Willy Herz was at the end of his strength. Debilitated by dysentery, the 61-year-old Frenchman died in Niederorschel, a Buchenwald subcamp, on 27 January.

The family had fled to Toulouse from Paris in 1942 on account of their Jewish origins. For a long time they had managed to evade deportation. It was not until July 1944, after the Allied landing, that they fell into the clutches of the German occupiers. By way of Buchenwald, Willy Herz and his son were sent to Niederorschel, where inmates were forced to work assembling aircraft wings.

The father is dead, but the son must keep living”, an inmate of many years counselled the 14-year-old. Bertrand survived the weeks that followed and the camp’s clearance. After his liberation and return to Paris, he learned of his mother’s death. His sister Françoise had come back from the Ravensbrück concentration camp alone.

(Michael Löffelsender)

Source: Bertrand Herz, Der Tod war überall: Ein Überlebender berichtet, Weimar 2016.

Literatur: Wolfgang Grosse, Aus dem Umkreis der Kamine: Überlebende eines KZ-Außenkommandos berichten, Duderstadt 2009.