The Last Chance to Remember
Chapter 6. FIRE IN THE PLANT!
rang the door bell from the main entrance and shouted nervously the
terrible news: The plant is on fire!! To add to the panic, there were
huge posters warning us that after seven o'clock Jews were not allowed
to be seen on the street. The fire was visible from the back porch of
our home, so after a little impatient waiting and helpless watching,
my father decided against the Gestapo's order that he had to go there.
Martin, my fathers partner came as well and the two of them were
standing there, watching how the fruit of their tireless work of many,
many years was destroyed. The fire blazed out of control all night.
It started on all four corners, so it was clear that this was not accidental.
The cork itself is very flammable, but there were other flammable materials,
which were needed for various operations. The Gestapo arrived soon and
started the interrogation and strict investigation: Who are the owners?!
If Jews, it must be Sabotage! With this ice cold announcement they took
my father and uncle away, to the unknown. The hell that started a few
days ago was building up. We tried to seek help, running from place
to place to lawyers, if they were found at all. Unfortunately nobody
could help. We didn't even know, if they were still alive. The next
whole day went by trying to find them. The fire finally stopped in the
morning, but the damage was done. Either from the fire or from the rescue
operation; from the water everything became rusted and lost.
day, late in the afternoon as we were waiting in despair a voice came
through from somewhere. The man was unknown to us but he had a message
from our father. They all were together at the main police station.
Later we found out that our father and uncle were taken straight from
the fire to the Gestapo headquarters which was in the largest and nicest
hotel (Schalkhaz) in our town and there they were interrogated the whole
night, facing the wall standing in the corner!
were detained at the police station. From there they were taken in a
truck, first attempting to confuse them by travelling all over. First
to the south part of the city and then suddenly changing speed in another
direction until they arrived at an abandoned boarding school, which
is in the north, in the suburbs. These trucks were too high for these
elderly gentlemen and it was difficult for them to get on or off. To
get out, they had to jump and my father injured himself.
place was totally empty with a cement floor and we (the next of kin)
were ordered to furnish the ice cold building with the most important
materials for day-to-day living. There were about 100 hostages. They
placed a table in the middle of the room with four machine guns in four
directions with the strictest orders to follow the regulations. We sent
a collapsible bed, the most important clothing, bedding, etc. They were
there for three weeks.
there was no way to help them. There were no visiting privileges or
other possibilities for help. But we had to do something, couldn't just
wait with folded hands. So this was the time when the public kitchen
was established, only for the hostages. In simple words there was sheer
we came back one year later, we found David, the older machinist, in
the burned building, trying to save anything from the ruins.
the meantime the inquiry went on about the fire. Neither my father nor
his partner, brother-in-law, were questioned at all, but on the basis
of the statements of the witnesses, the prosecutors office acquitted
them from the charge of sabotage. This was only the Gestapo's charge.
All the workers and witnesses tried to help us.
people committed suicide, unfortunately among the hostages too. We didn't
know if we can hope to see our father again. After three weeks of very
difficult days and nights, they finally were allowed to come home.
The big happiness was short lived!