Jerzy Kubicki

Jerzy Kubicki b. 1935 in Warsaw
worked as a Chauffeur in Warsaw
d. 1986 in Zielonka, near Warsaw

In 1950 Jerzy Kubicki wrote down for his relatives what he remembered from his imprisonment in the concentration camps. He wrote it down into an exercise book which he called: Diary". He copied the text for the Stadtarchiv Mannheim. This text is one of the most graphic and earliest texts in the office's possession.


We were kept for two days in the building no. 5 in Pruszkov in which wagons had been repaired. We starved there. It is true, that we were given a hot soup but it was very difficult to get to the big soup pot and to the canned meat, which was given to the people together with the soup. What was even worse, we had no bowl in which we could pour the soup. More and more people were led into the building so that we were crammed inside. On the third day the doors were opened and we were led to a train. We got into the train and the doors were fastened with wire. The wagons had only a little opening above, just as big as a Judas window, to look out. The train left for the Unknown.
I kept near my uncle Janek. At last we sat down, leaned our backs against the side of the wagon and looked silently at each other. There were only men in this wagon and they came from all walks of life, from every age group and social class.

We travelled by train for three days. Gradually we became hungry and suffered from the cold. The train stopped at daytime only once. That was in the open countryside. But the SS did not open each wagon but only every second wagon and prisoners were allowed to leave the wagons so that they could pay a call and walk around. Then we were counted, had to climb again into the wagons and the train left. At night the train once stopped at a Station. An elderly German man on the platform asked the SS men what they had in their wagons. They answered: "Those are the Warsaw bandits!" One of us eavesdropped the conversation and learned that we were taken to a concentration camp. Later on we told this to the German guard. But he denied it. He said to us that we had misunderstood the SS men and that he knew nothing about a camp, he had not said anything like that and that it was a lie. He told us that we were taken to work, that we would have to dig ditches. No one of us had a vague idea that something worse could happen to us.
In the night from 12th to 13th Nov. our train stopped. We felt that the train was uncoupled, that the engine went on while the wagons remained there. From far away came the sound of marching boots and the barking of dogs. My fellow prisoners lifted one of us up, who sat beneath the little window, so that he could look out of it on what happened outside. He saw the SS men marching around with dogs and that the whole area was illuminated by huge reflectors. Even from a distance I could still read the Station's name: Dachau. This is how we reached Dachau. Now every one of us knew where we were and what was in store for us.

After a brief conversation outside, the doors of our wagons were jerked open and SS men yelled at us and beat us. We had to get off the train very quickly and they ordered us to line up at once. They set the dogs on us, which tore our clothes. The dogs also bit some prisoners. There was yelling and whining which sounded even more disturbing because of the quiet of the night.

We formed two columns and walked towards Dachau. The SS led us into barracks, which were surrounded by a barbed wire fence and gave us wooden clogs to wear. That was to be our last trip.

It was as late as the next morning that we perceived that there were chimneys from which pitch black smoke rose continually. You could escape here to freedom but you had to pass through the chimneys to attain it. Their beating and battering accompanied us as we were marching through the big Iron Gate with its grim motto "Work Brings Freedom". This was not literally true because to the SS "freedom" meant actually "death". On the right hand side of the road stood a barrack where the camp administration had its office. On the left hand side was a watchtower. Several SS men stood at the watchtower with whips and other instruments of torture in their hands. They would Start beating us for the slightest reason, for example, if a prisoner climbed the stairs too slowly, he was beaten at once. The SS officers did not beat us; but the lower ranking SS men would always do it.
We spent the rest of the night in a large Square. There we huddled against each other, because it was so cold. We were also hungry and dejected because we knew what Dachau meant.

On the next morning we heard yelling from afar and we saw carts passing by, which were not drawn by horses but by human beings. Those were emaciated and next to them went men, "kapos", as we called them, who made these unfortunate people go faster by beating them when they slowed down.

Then the prisoners had to line up in rather long rows. They had to stand at attention as if they were soldiers and had take off their caps. We heard Orders like "Eyes right! Eyes left!" as we witnessed a morning roll call in the barrack square. A SS sergeant, the Rapportführer, gave out all the Orders and wrote down the names of the inmates. All this happened on the large roll call square next to us.

We were temporarily put into quarantine during which we did not have to line up every morning for the roll call but when it was over we had to do so as well. When we were still in quarantine we had to stay in the wooden barrack or according to what mood the SS men were in, had to leave it and stand outside.
As the days passed, we began to realise what was in store for us at Dachau. We clandestinely tried to smuggle our valuables to acquaintances outside the quarantine Station, to those who may be removed from Dachau or we would dig them up or give them voluntarily to the SS because they promised us better food if we gave our valuables to them. Then our names were registered and we got a registration number. From this moment on we were no longer human beings. We were treated like cattle; we were only called by our number. Soon we began to forget the names of our comrades and almost our own names. When the numbers were given out, we had to go to a table where several clerks sat. I took care to remain behind Uncle Janek, so he received no. 106541 and I no. 106542. These numbers were attached to our jackets together with the "Winkel" ("angle"), a symbol that showed whether a prisoner was a political prisoner or a regular one. After they had registered all our belongings, which we had to surrender, we were driven to the washing room.


Diary T3

In front of the washing room we have to undress first and put our clothes and our shoes on a pile. They shave our body hair and rub our bodies and head with some liquid that burns terribly on the skin. Prisoners who have been chosen for his job do all this. It is November [actually it was Sept.] and roofs and plots are covered with hoarfrost and we stand naked outside, shivering with the cold and wait to get into the washing room. At last it is our turn. Ten of us enter the washing room. We huddle together under the shower from which, after a while, hot water rains down on us. There are screams and confusion, one cannot elude the hot water which burns like fire on the chilled through bodies. 'Terrified cries inside are answered by a laughing outside.

After a while the hot water is switched off, and cold water comes out of the shower, and then this is repeated several times, first hot, then cold, again and again, hot, cold. At last they think we have enough of it and switch off the water supply and we leave the washing room completely dazed and wet. We are again outside and wait for our clothes. They give us underwear and clothes: pants, a vest, a jacket, grey striped trousers and a cap. We dress quickly because we are wet all over and it is very cold outside. Although I am not very tall, all my clothes are too small for me: my trousers do not reach my ankles, the sleeves of my jacket are also too short - the others look even worse. My uncle and I look at each other and tears come to our eyes. Oh God, what we look like! "If someone of our relatives would see us now, he/she wouldn't recognize us!" my uncle says to me, shivering with the cold. We comfort ourselves with the fact that the war may come soon to an end and say that we have to endure this, endure, although in my innermost soul I do not believe what I say, neither does my uncle. How can you endure such a hell and, moreover, this is only the beginning, it would still come worse. After we have "dressed", they lead us to the wooden barracks, which are here called "blocks".

While I walk to the barrack, I take a look around. We walk down a long and wide road lined with poplars. On both sides of the road, behind the poplars, are the blocks, wooden barracks. One is divided from the other by barbed wire. They take us to block no.23, which is a longish wooden barrack with two doors, each at the end of the barrack, which is here called "Stube" ("room"). On both sides of the middle aisle are three-storey pallets without blankets, without mattresses, only bare planks. We are put into quarantine for two weeks during which we are not allowed to see our fellow prisoners. We have a dreadful time in these dire circumstances. There are rumours that we would receive blankets and straw mattresses after quarantine.

In the block opposite ours lives a so-called "block senior". The inmates of this block were mostly German criminals who have been imprisoned here for several years and every one of them is a master of his trade. Every block senior has a "Stubenältester" ("room senior") as his assistant who distributes bread, soup and ersatz coffee to the prisoners and keeps always a larger portion for himself. The room seniors make us scrub floors, clean latrines; always accompanied by yelling and beating. During the day we are not allowed to enter the barracks, we have to stay outside all day long, we are hungry and suffer from the cold, we huddle together and stand with our backs pressed against the others only to get a little warmer. At last the evening comes and they allow us to enter our barracks, we lie down, two people sharing a pallet. We try to fall asleep or to wake up - perhaps this is only a nightmare, maybe we dream this only and wake up then among our family members. No, this is the bitter truth. I do not know when I fell asleep. I am waked up by a cry of the block senior: "Get up for the roll call!" We awake with a Start, jump from our pallets, make for the door and run out of the barrack. Although it is still dark outside, everyone is busy at the camp, a yelling of Orders can be heard everywhere.

We have to line up in rows of five people, the guard calls out our numbers, checks who is present, gets angry because the number of people Standing in front of him does not agree with the number stated in his records. The room seniors haste to the barracks, look there for the three missing men. They come out of the barracks and drag three dead bodies after them and dump the bodies next to the barrack.

The first night at the camp brought them already relief and repose, tomorrow they will escape to freedom- through the chimneys of the crematorium, as smoke they will embrace the sky and their ashes will fertilise the earth of the camp's plantation.

Now the records are complete, the block senior is content, everything is in apple-pie order. There is a flood of commands: "Attention!" "Hats off!" "Eyes left!" The SS Rapportführer (sergeant) approaches. The block senior walks towards him, doffs his hat and gives a report. The SS man takes the report; he is obviously not pleased with it. Slowly he walks past the prisoners whose features are paralysed with fear. Silence, there is an absolute silence through which I hear the pounding of my terrified heart. The silence is only interrupted by the footsteps of the SS man and his eyes, eyes like two terrible.... his eyes seem to pierce anyone of us and gaze sharply at their prey. Again and again he stops and points with a gloved hand again to another unfortunate victim, he sorts out the "Muselmänner" (literally "Muslim"; a camp slang word for people near death from starvation and privation). That means those who look meagre, who are ill or just those who the SS man considers being ill, have to be eliminated.

The block senior and the kapo remove them at once from the rows, they have to form a column and are marched to the gas chamber. The Rapportführer crosses off their names from his list and such things happen here every day. Now the morning roll call has come to its end, the SS man leaves, the Muselmänner have gone already and we are still alive. We are not allowed to enter the barracks during the day but have to remain outside for days regardless of bad weather and the days are getting colder. Every morning they drag the dead bodies of some unfortunate out of the barracks, strip them off their clothes: They tie a piece of paper with the number of the dead man to his leg. A Special squad comes to collect them with a two-wheeled cart and take them to the crematorium the chimneys of which belch thick smoke night and day.

Through the barbed wire fence we see the camp. Behind the barracks is a walkway which runs round the whole camp. Bordering on the walkway is a broad strip of grass, run through by a ditch, behind them a concrete-lined moat filled with water. At the edge of the moat is a barbed wire fence. The wires are wrapped around insulators; a sign says "Danger! High voltage - do not touch!" Behind the fence is a narrow path where SS men patrol with guard dogs. Then there is a low concrete wall, which is covered with electrified heavy-gauge barbed wire. On the wall every few meters there is a reflector fixed to the wall, which illuminates the fence during the night. Tall guard towers rise up at regular intervals. The barrels of machine guns point from the guard towers' tops to the four points of the compass. SS men keep watch on these towers night and day. In the night they search the area with searchlights. It is simply impossible to escape from here.

We have been kept in the quarantine block no. 23 for two weeks. There are rumors that we shall be sent to work. My uncle and I agree that we will volunteer if the SS calls up people for work. Perhaps it would be easier to endure starvation and time would pass faster. And indeed, a few days later they come and register the skilled workers. They are looking for lathe-operators, milling-machine Operators, fitters, car mechanics and drivers. My uncle and I volunteer. I do not have a job yet but I tell them that I am a fitter. The SS men write down my number and two days later at the morning roll call our numbers are read aloud. We line up; we are more than 1,000 prisoners, 1060 exactly. We are marched to a platform, climb the goods wagon, the door is fastened and after some time the train Starts moving and will take us again into an unknown future where we will encounter new surprises.


Transport Dachau-Sandhofen 25-27 Sept. Arrival in Mannheim-Waldhof

The goods train runs slowly; we often have to wait for hours on a siding. On the third day the train stops at noon somewhere at an unknown Station. We have arrived. A SS man comes and opens the doors of all the wagons. We have to form individual groups of five persons each. Guarded by SS men we walk through the town. Near the Station we have seen a sign saying "Mannheim". This is an industrial city on the River Rhine. We walk then on an embankment next to the Rhine and I see a forest of factory chimneys. The air is hazy with the smoke of the chemical factories.

At last we reach our destination. We pass through a gate with a fence on both of its sides. Behind the gate is a large two-storey building. Barbed wire has been lately fixed to the fence and little guardhouses have been erected. The gates of our new camp close behind us.

We are Standing now in a large asphalt yard. And just in this minute the siren announces an air raid. We have to lie down flat on the ground and must not move a limb. The planes are flying at such a high altitude that we can scarcely hear them. But we know that the front is no longer far away. Perhaps we shall soon be free. We keep this hope in our hearts. The planes have gone, the alarm is over. We have to line up again in rows of five.

The SS men are playing their game with us: We have to march for them like soldier. A SS man beats us, yells, kicks us with his boots, and threatens us with his pistol. After this is over, each prisoner has to make his own mattress that is we have to fill a sack with straw and divide up the "rooms". As I have done before, I stay together with my uncle; we lie down on our pallets, head against head, tired and are plagued with fleas...

On the second day after our arrival in Sandhofen, after the roll call, the guards march us to work. We march through the town. The way to the factory in which we have to work is quite long, about 6 km (4 miles). We drag ourselves there in a long procession while our wooden clogs clatter along. We are curiously eyed by the town's inhabitants; their reactions to us are different, some laugh at us, others turn away in order to hide their consternation. We are emaciated human beings in dirty blue-grey striped clothes with sore naked feet to which stick bits of paper or some rags we found somewhere. We look terrible.

Attached to our waists with a piece of wire or string dangles a metal bowl from which we eat from now on our daily meal. While walking everyone of us searches with his eyes the ground whether we spot the discarded remainder of a cigarette or cigar. It is a sort of risk we take, especially if we pick up a cigarette end. If a SS man sees us picking up one, he will beat us and we will have to throw the cigarette end away. My uncle and I, though we both do not smoke, collect cigarette ends as well. Some of them make up a "Gedrehte" (a rolled cigarette), these are cigarettes rolled in shreds of newspaper and for four "Gedrehte" the smokers among the prisoners will give you a portion of bread. These people have no sense of responsibility; they will give you the last morsel of bread, which barely keeps body and soul together just for taking a few puffs of a cigarette, which only damages their health.

We are now approaching the factory where we are to work. It is a large car-manufacturing plant called Daimler-Benz. The SS men Surround the Workshops in which we will have to work and German civilians take us to our workplaces and show us what to do. My uncle and I are led to the third assembly line where lorries are assembled which are destined for the transportation of troops. French civilians work at this assembly line, they will show us what to do and then will do their own work. My job consists of assembling and connecting headlights, horn and the Containers for the guns and the petrol can.

I have to do all this at a certain spot and during a certain time because the assembly line moves on continually. This means a lot of work even for a man who is healthy and leads a normal life as a worker. Uncle Janek works a few meters further off and fixes the bonnets unto the engines. The German and French civilian workers are not allowed to talk to us. Before we Start working, the SS men says to us that stealing, talking to civilian workers or lazing around will be taken to a tribunal and the delinquent will be sentenced to death, the same applies to attempting to escape.

We work two shifts at Daimler-Benz, 10 to 12 hours per shift. Days and weeks pass quickly. Autumn draws to its end, winter approaches. The first snow has just fallen on 10th Nov. 1944 during the night; on 13th and 14th Nov. and on 29th Nov. we have a layer of snow of 6 mm (about 0,2 inch) after it has snowed during the night. Only from 3rd Jan. 1945 on we have a thick covering of snow.

In our stiff wooden clogs we are unable to walk, the snow sticks to the wood, we slip and fall onto the road and the marching pace of the column is slowed down. On the following days the managers of the plant provide us with a train with several wagons, which is put on a siding at the Sandhofen Station. With this train we go to Daimler-Benz in the morning but, alas, we have to walk back to the camp in the evening.

After a sudden onset of cold weather, my fellow prisoners Start to get sick and as a result fat. It is clear to us that those bodies begin to swell up and that they will die soon. And the number of these unfortunate people increases steadily. Within a few days they become incredibly fat, -and that is the end of them. We also suffer from ulcers. My ulcers hurt frightfully and I have several of them, especially on my throat. We do not have a camp physician but a French first-aid man, who is also a prisoner who came from Natzweiler [probably it is Andreas Barhart].

He treats all the sick people. He has a little "medicine cabinet" which does not contain much more than aspirin and paper bandages. The first-aid man has also an assistant called Szymanski. Every day he treats his "patients". People who are ill have to report to the block senior who will send them to the first-aid man. He treats his "patients" very negligently so that you never go there twice again, because you will not receive Professional aid there.

I also go to him in the hope he will help me and treat my ulcers. He takes a look at my ulcers, and then takes a pair of scissors -1 think he will cut some hair on my neck - and cuts off the top of the ulcer so that blood and pus run down my throat. I faint and fall from the chair. He pours cold water over me and kicks me several times so that I come back to my senses, sprinkles some yellow powder onto the wound and his assistant dresses my wound with a paper bandage. This is how this "doctor" treats me.

The wounds heal only very slowly, the paper bandage comes off in pieces and blood and water oozes from the open wounds. They hurt still frightfully, particularly when a SS man hits my head. What are we living for if we have to endure suffering again and again? Sometimes such thoughts come to my mind, whether it would be better to commit suicide or try to escape and be shot by an SS man. What are we going through is on the verge of what man can endure. But there is something, which forces us to carry on in the hope that we will be free again. That is the grace of God to whom I pray fervently when I lie on my pallet in the camp. We hope the war will soon be over because there are often air raids of the Allied air force. Now we have to wait here in the dugouts under the factory. The planes bombard as well the town and the factory in which we work. One building has already been completely destroyed, almost every day we have to interrupt our work. We are not afraid of planes. An air raid at night is worse because the SS will not let us sleep, but drive us to an Underground shelter where we have to stand. During one night Mannheim is severely attacked, around us several houses burn and even at the morning the fires are still smouldering while we go to work [It could have been on 21St Nov. 1944]. We see some burnt out ruins and in some houses people still try to salvage their belongings and to extinguish the fire.

The second half of December has already begun but since the day we came from Dachau, we have worn the same underwear. From my vest only the collar and the button facing is left, the rest has fallen apart. It is very cold already; the temperature has plummeted to minus 15 degrees Celsius. This winter is particularly cold, I suppose because the temperature in this part of Germany is rather mild. [Here Mr. Kubicki errs; these low temperatures are not unusual]. We collect bits of paper and rags and wrap them around our bodies as protective underwear; we try to protect us somehow from the cold. The SS men find it out and from time to time they frisk us in the evening after our arrival in the camp. Woe betide to him who wears rags underneath and who is found out. One day we are frisked again and a SS man finds a rag, which I have worn. I have to take it off and am beaten so severely that I will not forget it as long as I live.

My body is totally exhausted and beard and fingernails do not grow any longer, my teeth Start getting loose. The immune System does no longer work properly and we become susceptible to any kind of illness.

Food - the only wish I have before I die is to eat my fill, just once. At some time in the middle of December when we are just coming home from work, the sirens warn us that an air raid will follow soon. We have just entered the yard, when some SS men come to us and drive us to the dugouts under the school building. We do not like going there and look around in the yard where our dinner is already waiting for us in large pots....Mannheim is attacked, the noise of exploding bombs, the crashing can be heard every where and very near us. The building Starts shaking. Suddenly an enormous force throws us towards the cellar walls, the light goes out, the roughcast comes down, and we hear the moaning and crying of the injured. We all panic and try to reach the exit but cannot find it in the darkness. I do not know how I get out of the cellar but I find myself again in the yard. A part of the building is destroyed. There, where once the kitchen building has stood, we can see the bomb's impact. All houses around it have been destroyed but that does not interest me for the moment. The soup pots stand there still, I head towards them, stumbling over heaps of brick, planks and twisted iron.

That is all what remains of the pots, some melted iron, but on the ground the remains of our dinner lie there still steaming. I pick up hastily the dirty remains of our dinner with my hands. A layer of dust is on everything, which I cram into my mouth. Faster! More! But I am no longer alone, more and more prisoners come who snatch the potato chunks from each other. After a while, all what remains is a wet spot on the ground. I look around and see some prisoners running frantically towards the school building. Oh my God! Of course, there has been the bread larder that is the reason why they are running! I hurry there as well and see some of them already returning with some loaves of bread. I reach the larder, the room is dark, I grope for the shelves but they are empty. Everything's gone! I am too late! Suddenly my foot touches something, which lies on the ground. I stoop down and pick it up - it's a loaf of bread! A whole loaf of bread! I grope with my fingers on the floor, there's another one! I quickly hide one loaf under my shirt; I hold the second one in my hands and leave the room quickly for I can already hear the footsteps and whistling of the approaching SS men. When I reach the yard, some prisoners attack me and try to wrench the bread from my grip but I hold on as fast as I can, I will not let them take it from me. But they are superior in numbers and tear the loaf apart and for me remains only what I can hold in my two hands. But I still have a whole loaf hid under my shirt. By chance I meet my uncle who has not yet succeeded in getting something to eat. We both hide in the ruins of the house and teil each other what we have just experienced. We eat the whole loaf and ignore the orders of the SS men who summon us for the roll call.
At last we line up in a long row, they count us and check our numbers, then we are frisked. Woe betide to the man who hides food or other things under his clothes and is found out. He will be severely punished by the SS guards who will not restrain themselves and will show no consideration to the pain they inflict on us. We have to stay in the yard until the next morning. Early in the morning we are marched to Daimler-Benz without breakfast. In the evening, after work, we cannot return to the camp because the school building is too badly damaged, so they lead us to an air raid shelter made of concrete which looks like a giant mushroom [the Immelmann air raid shelter in the Sandhofer Straße near the Zellstoff factory]. The shelter is situated near the factory.

We stay in this air raid shelter for several days that is we sleep only in it because we work still at Daimler-Benz during the day. There is absolutely no furniture in the shelter; we have no pallets and no blankets, which are still at the school. We have to lie here on the bare concrete floor, which is covered, with dirt, but luckily it is not cold in it.
The air raids occur more frequently now, during the day as well as at night. The production at Daimler-Benz plummets; this is why they need fewer workers,

On 24th December civilians from Daimler-Benz come to us after work and divide us into two groups. Uncle Janek remains in one group while I have to go to the other group. We think that one group shall be removed. I want to stay with my uncle and when I think nobody is watching me, I sneak to the other group where my uncle is. But I am wrong; the foreman I worked for has seen how I changed places. He comes to me, pulls me by the shoulder, out of the row, beats me with his fist in the face and gives me a kick, so that in a moment I am again where I have been before. This is how we part, I would have liked to stay with my uncle because he is older and more experienced, together it would have been easier for us to endure these torments. We have helped each other, we have shared the last morsel of bread with each other.. .and now we face each other, each one in a different group, we have to say good-bye and do not know whether we will ever see each other again in life.

The other group is led to a level crossing near the factory and climb into the wagons, which are already waiting for them. They will remain locked up for three days without any food or drink in the goods wagons. We are taken to the air raid shelter.

We get dinner, this time a double ration because twice as much prisoners were originally expected for dinner but only we return. On this evening we get bread soup, which is made of mouldy bread but to us, it is the best soup because it is the only soup, which is nourishing. This is our dinner at Christmas Eve.

Our thoughts go back to the years before the war, when our Christmas Eve dinner looked very different. I remember the Christmas tree, the presents, my family, the table laden with delicacies and today I have to swallow water with mouldy bread boiled down to a pulp and seasoned with my tears which fall like peas into my bowl. My fellow prisoners feel like me, every one of them is lost in his thoughts, has a lump in his throat and weeps bitter tears. We spend Christmas Eve in an air raid shelter near a factory. We have to spend two nights on a concrete floor in dirt and dust without daylight or water; we have not washed ourselves for several days, thank God it is not cold in the air raid shelter. Outside the temperatures have fallen below zero for several days.

After the Christmas holidays we start working and after work we are no longer taken to the shelter but to Sandhofen, to a building where Italian prisoners were kept. The building is smaller but the number of prisoners has also decreased by more than half. This is to be our new "home", from where we will leave in the morning for work and here we will wait for the approach of the year 1945. At New Year's Eve we need not work, on this day we have a "lice roll call", that is we take of the rags we are wearing and kill the lice which plague us because we could not wash while we slept in the air raid shelter. After New Year's Day we have to work again in the factory but have to interrupt our work from time to time. Either some part does not run which means we have to interrupt our work. One day the assembly line I have worked at comes to a halt suddenly, and we have to carry the pieces of coachwork from one Workshop to the other. We carry each piece individually and two SS men supervise us on our way. When I walk to the other Workshop I see two pieces of bread crust lying on the floor. So I stoop down, pick them up and put them in my pocket. ASS man has watched me picking up the crusts, however, and calls me to him. He is a young man from the SS Death's-Head Battalions ("Totenkopfverbände"). I stand at attention in front of him and take off my cap. He tells me to show him what I have put into my pocket. I produce the two crusts and show them to him with my hand stretched out. At this moment he hits me in the face with his fist and I topple over; the SS man yells at me to get up again at once. He does not even want to bend down to hit me. I get up with considerable effort and get another blow at once and fall again to the ground. Blood oozes from the broken skin of my lips, my head aches and my eyes fill with tears. The SS man kicks me several times with his hobnailed boots, then he teils me to go to work again and crushes the bread with his boots. I get up and my whole body aches. I see only black spots in front of me, spit out two teeth, which he has knocked out, and blood trickles down from my nose to the chin. With wavering Steps I slowly walk to my workplace; I know that I have to carry on my work, otherwise I will lie here forever. This insight keeps my strength up and I go on carrying pieces of coachwork like the others.

No one pays attention to what has just happened, everyone here is beaten, hungry and hurt. We are all destined to be exterminated by work but before everything, which could serve, the "great cause" has to be squeezed out of us.

I once bought potatoes from a prisoner who loaded them. I gave him all the cigarette ends I had collected and received in return three potatoes which I have carried for several days in my pocket because I have not had a chance yet to boil or fry them. At last I get a chance: we have to clear a demolished Workshop. It is very cold and an icy wind blows. The guard is middle-aged and maybe therefore humane. He never beats us and sometimes he talks to us a little and comforts us with "War soon over!" He allows us to light a little fire. We cannot warm ourselves at it together, but one by one we can warm at least our hands. At last I can cook my potatoes. I go to the fire, put my potatoes into the embers, warm myself and wait for my potatoes to be done. In this moment another SS man comes and they change guard. When the SS man sees the fire he Starts yelling, tramples out the fire and with it crushes my potatoes with his boots. I have collected cigarette ends for so many days to get the tobacco from them and to get some potatoes in exchange for it - this little incident shattered all my hopes to be no more hungry, at least for some time, in one blow. Oh, how I curse this man now!

The air raids of the Allied become more and more frequent; the production at the plant is interrupted because we often have to help Clearing demolished buildings. When we are surprised by air raids at work, we interrupt our work and go to a dugout, which is situated under a Workshop where we work. When we go "home" to the camp in the second half of January, it is demolished [Mr. Kubicki means here the girls' school or "Alte Schule", at the corner of the Kriegerstraße/Zwerchgasse. The school building was hit on 1st Feb. 1945 at noon.] It has been bombarded in the course of the day, but the guards do not know this and have taken us to the camp and now they do not know what to do. The building has been completely destroyed, only the cellar is still intact. The entrances to the cellar are obstructed by nibble. The SS men order us to remove the rubble with our very hands; we are not given any shovels. The work is very demanding, but after a while we uncover the entrances and go downstairs to the cellar to take a nap there. It is cramped, stale and dark there. Water oozes continually from the burst water pipes, the walls are wet, water trickles down on us. The floor is wet as well and when some water has collected, we scoop it up and carry it outside. We put planks on the floor but these get soaked with water after a certain time. We are totally soaked through but there is no place where we can dry our wet clothes and this is how we go on for days. In this Situation the camp commandant decrees that the school building, which was our first shelter, should be restored so that we can be accommodated there. During the morning roll call we are told six carpenters are needed who will have to carry out repairs in the school building. I am not a trained carpenter but I am able to use a hatchet and a saw because my grandfather was a carpenter and so I volunteer. This is at least better than working at a factory. We belong now to a so-called "Tischlerkommando" (a carpentry squad) and from this day on we Start restoring our former camp under the supervision of two SS men. There are also some prisoners who clear away rubble and glass.

After we have arrived at the school, they give us saws, hatchets and nails. Our job is to board up the window the window-frame of which is damaged and board up the doors, which lead to the demolished part of the building. We take great care about our work because we know that our living conditions shall be improved. The living conditions at the Italian military camp (the "Alte Schule") are unbearable. Here we are considered skilled workers and get better treatment, we are no longer beaten and are no longer ordered around and we get more food.

After a few days the school building has been restored so that we can move in. We are 400 prisoners for some of the so-called "Muselmänner" ("Muslims", a concentration camp slang for people near death from starvation and privation) have already been deported, probably to Vaihingen on the Enz (Baden-Württemberg). Muselmänner are those who are ill and weak. We take our quarters on the ground floor. Our "commando" (squad) has boarded up the stairs leading up to the upper storey. We have also boarded up the Windows so that it is dark in the corridors and in our room. This, however, does not bother us because the winter days are short; we go to the factory while it is still dark and when we come back, it is dark again. After we have finished restoring the school building, our commando is dissolved and we continue our daily work routine at the factory. The days seem to be endless.

It is the end of February now, the days are getting longer and on sunny days we can already warm ourselves in the sunlight but the nights are still very cold. We are here in the west of Germany, not far away from the French border. The climate here is milder than in Poland. But this winter is exceptionally cold, temperatures drop to -15 degrees Celsius; the locals here cannot remember any winter as cold as this during the last 50 years. Why does it always have to be us? [The lowest temperatures during this winter are -14 degrees Celsius on 17th Jan. 1945, -17 degrees Celsius on 25th Jan. 1945 and -14 degrees Celsius on 28th Jan. 1945]. In the last few days we have heard the approaching noise of battle from the front.

On this sector of the front the Allies make a rapid progress. Of course we know nothing of the Allies' offensive but we see how the German factory workers and the guards get more and more nervous. Although the war will probably soon be over, they do not treat us better, they still behave to us in a brutal and ruthless manner.

The evacuation of several departments of the Daimler-Benz plant begins, work is more and more often interrupted and the roar of the artillery, the "front's voice" gets louder from day to day. Tension is mounting and the rumble of gunfire can be heard quite distinctly: the front is approaching, it is already near us. Maybe God will help us so that we will soon be free, can eat to our heart's content, see the end of our imprisonment and return home to our relatives in Poland. On the one hand, every one of us hopes that this will soon be over, on the other hand, there is fear and uncertainty. Will the liberators be able to free us before the camp is evacuated or will we even remain alive to see the liberation? This occupies our thoughts but I shake it off like a like a fly. We have to endure because we will soon be liberated. Probably we will have to wait longer for this day and many of us will not live to see it although it seems to be so near. Today is the 20th March 1945, for the last two days we have not gone to work. The SS men are nervous; they become feverishly active and seem to prepare something. There are more guards in our camp. From the Rhine we hear distinctly the exploding grenades and the chattering machine-guns. On 22" March the sky is overcast which is common in early spring. We go to the morning roll call and line up in rows. The camp commandant "Faja" [nickname of the SS Oberscharführer (Staff Sergeant) Christian Ahrens] comes to us and like a bolt from the blue the order is issued that the camp will be evacuated [We know from other sources that there was an earlier decision to evacuate the camp]. We stand dazed and confused in the yard; one blow has shattered all our hopes. The thing we have been most afraid of has finally occurred. Oh God, when will this horror finally end?

After the roll call we are sent to our rooms, we collect bowls and blankets and form two columns. After this is done, we are marched to the Station. Watched over by guards, we are taken to the factory. Good-bye - Mannheim - school building, we know that we will not return. At the Station the goods wagons are already waiting, 40 people have to climb into each wagon and then the doors are fastened. In the last wagon are the SS men and guards occupy the space between the wagons.