Among the Youngest Prisoners

"They couldn’t cough. They couldn’t sneeze. They couldn’t whisper."

"So my father rode back to his house. And when he got there, my grandmother told him that my grandfather had already come home once, and she told him to go back out because they Gestapo had been by looking for him, and they wanted to arrest him.

So my grandfather was wandering the street and eventually came home. And he said he was tired, and he was resigned to the fact that he would be arrested, and my grandmother wouldn’t hear of it. She said, 'Take Fred with you-- they said that they would be back.' And so he did. He took my father with him, and they went back on the street, and my father said that the Gestapo must have been watching the house, because they’d only gone a half a block when a black car pulled up, and they asked if he were Herr Heinemann, and he said he was.

And they said, 'Well, you’ll have to come with us.' And they started to arrest my father as well, and he said, 'Well, you don’t want to take him with you. Let him go home.' And they said, 'No. He’s tall enough and he looks-- well-- appropriate enough to come with us too.'  So my dad was one of the youngest.

And they went to Gestapo headquarters, and they were put in jail. Their overcoats were confiscated-- all their personal belongings-- and they were hungry, since they hadn’t eaten since the morning before, and they-- I don’t know that they gave them any food. And they held them there in the jail until they had enough men to transport the next morning to Dachau, which was one of the first of the concentration camps.

And, years later, my father filled out some papers for the claims conference to see if he was entitled to any reparations, and he described what had happened at the camp. I’m not sure if my grandfather worked or not, but he said that he didn’t do anything except three times a day they were required to assemble in the center of the concentration camp and stand at attention for two to two and a half hours at a time. At that point-- when they first got there, their head was shaved, and they were given black and white striped uniforms. They were very thin. And this was, of course, in November. And they were made to stand at attention. They couldn’t cough. They couldn’t sneeze. They couldn’t whisper. He said he was beaten up when he first got to the camp, and he was kicked in the head many times, and some of his teeth were knocked out. And he suffered many years later from several strokes and a brain tumor, and so forth."