New York, April 18, 2004
In my personal bio (HERE) there is no more than a few words that "during the second world war I was sent on forced labor to Siemens near Dresden."
It was on October 28, 1941, the day of remembering founding of Czechoslovakia. I was about 19 years old and wanted to pledge my alliance to this National State Holiday (strictly forbidden during the Nazi occupation). I joined a group of students wearing the national tri-color ribbon in my lapel and orderly marching under the National Museum and the Statute of Saint Venceslau on Vaclavske namesti in Prague. Since at this time the oppression by the Nazis was not as strict (in later years they would just shoot us all down), the "SS" loaded us in trucks to the railroad station and transported us to forced labor in Germany.
. I ended up working for Siemens in Soernewitz near Dresden. Actually the labor camp was in abandoned school nearly an hour walk from the factory. There and back two-hour walk was in addition to 12-hour daily labor in the factory. The accommodations consisted in triple bunk beds, about sixty people to one (class) room.
. Our lagerfuhrer was a veteran soldier who got this position as a reward for military service in which he lost a leg. It was a privileged position for him because we were permitted to receive packages from home, from the Bohmen Protectorate. And naturally, the lagerfuhrer made it a rule to share the food in the packages for himself and his family before releasing it to us.
. In the Siemens factory we worked under the direction of local skilled German workers under the supervision of the ASS (Arbeite Schutz Staffle). Actually, as much as I can remember, they all were nice to us because they liked keeping their behind the front positions. Apparently any uprising by us would cause their replacement.
. Actually, in general the Germans liked us and wanted to gain us on their side. We (the Czechs) had the Kencarte (ID) identical to German Citizens, only with a remark stating "Protectorate". Unlike Slovakia where German created an "independent" Slovak Republic and nominated a catholic priest as the President ("to liberate Slovaks from the Czech oppression"), in the Protectorate (the Czech lands, Bohemia and Moravia) Nazis needed the heavy industry and the Czech educated and skilled labor.
. Any Czech could successfully apply for the German citizenship and take advantage of all the benefits it offered. One of my realne-gymnasium schoolmates, in order to finish his University study (the Czech Charles University was closed by Nazis) joined them, finished his studies and got a degree, then he was drafted into the German army, sent to the "front" and never returned. Another who joined them was hanged as a traitor after the liberation of Czechoslovakia in May 1945. (Events [hanging the traitors] that the "velvet revolution" missed in 1989.)
To finish my forced labor story, after more than a year with Siemens, I succeeded to escape and lived underground in Bohemia.
Sometimes about in 1999 I filed a claim under the Holocaust compensation. About a year later I received a confirmation, that the case was investigated and I was incorporated into the class of "deportation and forced labor for a company". (Apparently the labor camp did not qualify under the "concentration camp, ghetto, or other place of confinement recognized under the German Foundation Act".)
Slowly but surely
Just now I received an Award of DEM 5 000 (EUR 2556.463) with a check as First installment for DEM 2 500 (EUR 1278.23) US$ 1565.45.
My claim was resolved on the evidence that IOM (International Organization for Migration) obtained from the International Tracing Service in Bad Arolsen, Germany,
The amounts payable under the German Foundation Act are:
For slave labour while held in a concentration camp, ghetto: DEM 15 000
For deportation and forced labour for a company: DEM 5 000
For deportation and forced labour in agriculture: DEM 2 000