Weimar, Germany

In 1944, when Sidney was 13 his father and brother were transferred to a new concentration camp called Buchenwald in Germany. During this time, Sidney was alone and had to change his mentality to be able to survive on his own. All that he could rely on was his cleverness and his guts. A few weeks later, Sidney eventually got transferred to the same camp as his father and brother. When Sidney gotten out of the car, he was welcomed with SS guards with dogs on leashes barking at him and fellow survivors. He and his fellow survivors marched into the camp surrounded by electrical fences. Every few hundred feet there was a guard on a tower with a machine gun pointed at the survivors with search lights on just in case any Jews tried to escape. They waited outside during the winter cold for hours until finally they were admitted into the processing building. Sidney was taken to the processing table to get checked in by a man in prison uniform. When asked for his age Sidney guessed he was 13 years of age because so much time has passed without any form of knowledge of what day it was. The man told him to say he was 16 so that Sidney wouldn’t have to go with the children. He was given a number that would be his name while at Buchenwald; 113752. The number was written on his jacket and for now on at Buchenwald he was referred to by his number and not by his name. After checking in, Sidney and other survivors were taken to be cleansed. They had to shave all the hair from their bodies, remove all their clothes and take a hot shower. He was given a new uniform that was too big for him wear ad he was still a young boy who was extremely skinny. This didn’t bother Sidney since he took a hot shower and had gotten rid of the lice that was in his hair. After getting dressed he was taken to Block #52 where they became integrated with Non-Jew prisoners of the camp. Each barrack was controlled by a block elder that was in charge of distribution of food and work titles for the prisoners. Sidney’s block elder was a German political prisoner, Willy, who got sent to the labor camp because he refused to follow Hitler. Willy essentially had total control of their lives. He determined whether or not you have a high chance of survival or a really poor chance. Luckily, Willy was very nice, especially to children and protected them from bullies and criminals. The barracks they slept in were originally horse stables and had slabs of woods with no bedding for the prisoners to sleep on. It had four beds stacked on top of each other with zero comfort. Nights were unsettling during these times for Sidney since there was no bedding, many of the prisoners were still very ill, and some would whisper in different languages at night. Dawn wasn’t any better either as they were woken up by screaming from Guards telling them to hurry up and to get out of their barracks. The SS Guards would make them do sick “games” for their own pleasure such as having them take their caps on and off and sing camp songs. Many of the survivors were emaciated as their eyes caved into their skulls and were called “Musselman” for their appearance. In 1945, after staying at Buchenwald for a couple of weeks, Sidney was able to explore the camp. The camp was enormous and to Sidney it was like a city. The only difference was that he was a prisoner of this camp instead of a civilian. Many people of different demographics were prisoners at Buchenwald; French, Russian, Hungarian, Jew, and Polish were among the prisoners at the camp. Many people could not take the struggle any longer and threw themselves to the electrified fence to end their lives. Sidney never thought of ending his own life, as he knew that ending his life would bring satisfaction to the Nazis. He turned it into a sick game as every day he would survive. Every morning he woke up with the sense of victory knowing that he was alive beating the Nazi by doing so. It was his own sick game that kept him alive during his time at the camp. Food had always been a struggle during Sidney’s and the prisoners’ time at the camp. Sidney’s best bet for obtaining food was by begging fellow prisoners for food. Most of the time he came back with no luck. Sidney and fellow prisoners diet mostly consisted of bread and coffee in the morning, margarine, potato soup and a piece of bread. They often times had nothing to drink. In order to obtain water Sidney would grab snow and melt it down to be able to drink it. During this time Sidney had a very close friend named Harry whom he knew since his time at Piotrkow. They worked together at the factory in Piotrkow and were now working together at Buchenwald. Together they layered brick to help build buildings at Buchenwald. One of their assignments was to help build a cooler for the kitchen. Luck would strike with them since that job came with benefits such as getting extra food being slipped to them from the workers at the kitchen. Usually when they received food the soup was extra thick for them. Every day after work they would hide food in their pants and smuggle the food back to their barracks. Their boss, Dutchman, warned them of stealing food since it can result in serious punishment, but Harry and Sidney never listened and still smuggled food to the barracks after work. At Buchenwald, children under the age of 16 were not supposed to be there since they were viewed as wasteful mouth eaters. Even though Sidney’s information lied about him being 16 years of age he was sent out to a new barrack at the same camp. Instead of Sidney and Harry being stationed at Block#52 they were to be transferred to Block#66. This block was a little camp meant for children under the age of 16 years of age. When they arrived to Block#66 they were met with Gustav who was in charge of the block. Gustav was a red hair Polish Jew with his military uniform. To bring the spirits up of the kids he would tell stories of Jewish Heroes that fought against foreign occupancy. Sidney had a very small memory of seeing his father for the last time. The last time he saw his father was when Sidney was with his friends at the camp. His father ran towards him crying in joy that he was still alive. Sidney’s father had lost a lot of weight and was extremely emaciated. His father gave Sidney a piece of bread as a gesture of love towards Sidney. Sidney reaction was very cold, and he felt uncomfortable. Sidney was no longer the boyish joyful that he and his father used to know. Sidney’s father was moved to the underground rocket factory, Dora Mittelbau, on the 6th January 1945. He died one month later on 12th February 1945. It was now April 1945 and the war were coming to an end. The prisoners knew by the thunder of the bombings that the Americans were getting very close. At one point the bombing hit the camp from air artillery and many people were injured or killed by the bombings. High hopes were spreading around that the war would soon be ending. Orders came down from the Nazi SS guards to present the prisoners at the parade grounds. The Nazis demanded the Lageraltester (the inmate camp leader) to identify all the Jews of their barracks. Gustav had all of the Jews remove their yellow arm bands. The Nazi officers ordered all Jews to step forward however, the Jews from Sidney’s group were ordered to not obey by Gustav. The Nazis demanded the Jews to step forward towards Gustav, but he refused. He sent everyone back to their barracks except for them. Many of the Nazi SS Officers were in frustration with the exception of one Office who was pretty sadistic about the whole situation. That one Nazi SS Officer ordered all the younglings to drop their pant to view their uncircumcised penis since during this time it was common among Jews to have their penises circumcised. He laughed at them humiliating them over their circumcisions. Since Harry and Sidney were Jews they had to march to a crowded warehouse where they were among hundreds of other Jews who were also rounded up as well. While at this warehouse Sidney was reunited with his Uncle Rolnick and his two sons. For a brief moment Sidney was a sense of joy seeing familiar faces once again. Nazi guards with machine guns came into the warehouse and picked 50 Jews to be taken outside where they were shot to death. Sidney walked over to Harry to see him with his face covered with fear. Sidney refused to die at this moment and was given another chance to live by a man from the underground. He told them to leave the building and to carry something with their hands. They escaped the warehouse and were able to find buckets with handles on them. The most difficult part of their process was to walk pass Nazi SS Guards and act like normal laborer. One of the Soldier saw them and smiled at them while another told them to “halt.” They heard bullets passing by and ran like hell to safety. That day he escaped while knowing that everyone in the warehouse was shot dead and that he and Harry were still alive.