Interview with Ber Fuchs

Interview with Ber Fuchs

"Hearing his father's / grandfather's voice is as if he's still alive!"

This interview was made by some students at Lund University and was recorded on a cassette tape. Bers interview is a valuable story but unfortunately the content is not always in chronological order and can sometimes be confusing. Another thing is that the recordings sadly were not completed and suddenly interrupted in the middle of the interview. Whatever the reason for the incomplete recordings we will never know. This interview is the basis of the content on this website and is about his story during the war.

Below is what was said on this tape recorded and here written in third person:

  • In Lodz they worked and received food as a payment.

  • His father had a shoe factory and he created models that then someone else made shoes after that model.

  • His family had a layer of leather that they could sell to the Jewish police for food.

  • The SS found out that they had a stock and abused his father daily. In the end they killed him when he said he had no more leather. Even the mother was beaten to death because they wanted more leather.

  • His father made "straw boots" to the German military.

  • After the uprising in Warsaw, Bers big brother Lemel knew that life there in Lodz would be hell. That's why his brother, who was over 20 years, hid him and another 7 people. He put a cabinet in front of a door and they had very little food. The legs were swollen from starvation.

  • They drove with train wagons with about 150-200 people in each. They stood up for 10 days.

  • The arrived at Auschwitz and he and his brother were there for about 3 - 4 days. On arrival at Auschwitz they were immediately sorted by Dr. Mengele. In the barracks they were packed like sardines. Every morning there was dead people outside the barracks against the electric fence. Most of who died against the fence searched for the toilet in the dark.

  • One day an SS officer entered the barracks and asked if there were any tailors. Everyone wanted to get out of there so everyone was tailors. The same happened when they wanted carpenters.

  • A group from Auschwitz were selected for transportation to go to Bronswerk (ed. remark: Hamburg, where they built boats such as Bismarck, Blohm + Voss??  Or it was rather the labour camp Braunschweig at Ludwigslust where slave work was carried out at the Büssing Kraftwagen factory. They assisted German factory workers in the ammunition factory who made parts for armoured vehicles).

  • Every day the factory was bombed by the Allies. The Jewish workers were placed in the dangerous places (ed. remark: to act human shields?). Many died. After about two months, the surviving Jewish workers were sent on train wagons. 100 people in each wagon and during transport many died and those who were still alive had to stand on one leg to not trample on the dead. Only 7-8 people survived in each cart.

  • Many were half dead in the camp. The prisoners received 10 kg package from the Swedish Red Cross. Since they did not eat for a long time many died because of that they could not tolerate eating the preserved food from the packages.

  • He still had the same blue and white vertical striped suit as they had in Auschwitz. He put all the cans in his pockets and wanted to switch them for hot water that Russian prisoners had cooked. They were 5-6 persons who knocked him down and took all the cans. It didn’t matter much because those who did not tolerate the food and died didn’t need their cans anymore. There were plenty of them. The packages also contained a packet of cigarettes.

  • There were still German guards.

  • About 90% of the prisoners were dead in the barracks.

  • One morning it was heard that the German guards were gone. The concentration camp Wöbbelin was liberated by the Americans on April 20, 1945 at Ludwigslust. (ed. remark:  Ludwigslust is located a few kilometres outside Hamburg, does the date match? According to Wikipedia, Wöbbelin was liberated on May 2, 1945).

  • The Americans drove some of us captives into the city with Jeep. (ed. remark:  The city is a little bigger city Ludwigslust he means?). The Allied soldiers hunted Germans from their house so the prisoners could get clothes and somewhere to sleep.

  • The Swedish Red Cross chose him to accompany them back to Sweden. He was enormously grateful to Sweden for saving him and others from death.

  • He was in quarantine for 2 weeks in Trelleborg (ed. remark:  according to the records of the National Archives in Lund he was there from July 20 to August 13, 1945, about 3 weeks). Then they were transported to Dalarna to work and meet the employment services. Were there for about 1 year (ed. remark:  according to the registers of the National Archives in Lund, they were sent to Öreryd's school in Hestra near Gislaved in Småland, Aug 13th, possibly forwarded to Dalarna afterwards).

  • Of those who came to Sweden in 1945 most people managed but many were mentally ill from the experiences of the war.

  • He went to Höganäs to work at a Ceramics factory. Was there for about 1 year.

  • He then went to Helsingborg and there were welders there. However, he would like to work with shoes like his father before and during the war.

  • He worked at Kockums in Malmoe after Helsingborg for about 1 year as a welder.

  • He got work at Gyllene Gripen shoe factory on Trelleborgsgatan in Malmoe, worked there as a shoemaker and to cut leather.

  • While working at Gyllene Gripen, he attended a Jewish Amateur Theatre together with others who came in 1945. One of them was Jacob Manowicz (ed. remark:  for more information about Jacob is here).

  • He got to go to a shoe manufacturing school in Örebro paid by Gyllene Gripen.

  • He did his military service in Stockholm on I1 because he wanted to go there. One of the officers informed him that he did not have to take full military service because he came from another country. But he wanted to do like all other Swedes and make the entire military duty. However, he regretted that because it was hard work. He was happy despite that.

  • Following his military service, he went to a Kibbutz in Israel in 1958. (ed. remark: he met his wife Kochava Poller in 1959 and then returned home to Malmoe the same year).
Parts of what is written from the interview above are as an audio file if you want to listen to Bers story (about 11.54 of 35.43 min):
Note! Bers dialect that is heard is a mixture of Danish and Swedish.

Or would you rather listen to the entire recorded interview (35,43 min):