Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

David Kahan - April 29, 1982

The SS


SS. And sometimes they had uh, some Wehrmacht mixed in with them.

Was there a difference between the way the SS treated you and the way the Wehrmacht...

Yes. The SS uh, in general, in general were cruel and mean and you could see that they were trained to hate and to kill. While most of Wehrmacht, they were never that ferocious, they weren't that barbaric as the SS were. And, and uh, they, they didn't treat us as cruelly as uh, SS did.

Did any of them ever help you out, either the Wehrmacht or the, the SS?


Tell me about it.

Yes. Uh, during the whole time--I was, I was one year in the concentration camp--during this time that I was in Mittergars uh, I was taken from my main camp in Mühldorf to a little uh, place in Mittergars that a German Air Force officer was building prefabricated cement blocks, cement walls for buildings. When I was working there, there were two German brothers that I'll never forget as long as I live. As a matter of fact I made it a point, made a note of it before you got here to tell you about it, that even the darkest in humanity, the barbarity, the monstrosity that the Germans under Hitler had, had, have, have uh, perpetrated upon the Jewish people, you always find one or two who are decent human beings. These two brothers I remember vividly. They were short, middle-aged. And the first day that we met them, at, at that uh, factory, they treated us decently. And I could see in their eyes the sadness and the sorrow that they felt for uh, for um, us being treated as we were. Whenever we worked under these two brothers, they, they actually let us rest a little bit once in a while and they even told us uh, not to worry, that the Allies are approaching Germany. They just said, "Be strong and this will be over pretty soon." That was toward the end of the war and this was like in, in um, I was liberated in April and this was like February, in March of, of the same year. And, and uh, once in a while they brought us little pieces of dry bread or bread crumbs that they--they didn't have much food. They used to tell us, "We don't have much food either," and they used to give us a small piece of dry bread. So I could say that these were two Germans who were under those circumstances were the most decent people that you could meet, humanitarians.

Do you think they were risking their lives?

They were practically. I'm not sure of that, because the war was almost being over and a lot of Germans at that time realized that, "Why do we continue killing the Jews now? It, it's pretty soon I have to give some accounting." They're...I think that they might have risked their lives. Maybe not. I remember one occasion that another mean German, a real Nazi-type, came over to our group of young boys working for these guys and they took one of the fellows away uh, to use him for some work and, and uh, one of these brothers actually physically attacked that other German and knocked him down to the ground and punched him. He said, "These boys are assigned to me. You leave 'em alone." I'll never forget that. I, I presume that something terrible could have come, become of that, he could have been punished. But I think no, nothing had happened to him. I think that the Germans already at that time could realize that this is wrong. They couldn't do anything about it, that--nothing could happen to them. They were with us to the last day, they said goodbye to us. This was one experience that I could, I could say a kind word about the Germans, over these two brothers from Frankfurt. After the Liberation I wrote a letter to the Mayor of Frankfurt asking if they could give me some information, that I would like to find these two wonderful people and I could never find them.

You were in two labor camps. How did you move from uh, the one in Bavaria?

Okay. From, from Mühldorf, which was the main camp where we were, working at this huge factory, which I can go in detail. The labor was terrible there. A lot of, most of the people that I went with died there. But around uh, I think around the fall of uh, '44, when this factory opened up in Mittergars about, about 10, 12 kilometers from Mühldorf, they took about 800 people from this camp and they took us to that camp. And, and uh, this is how we were divided to work.

Were there ever any civilian overseers that you remember from the factory or was it a...

Most of the overseers were civilian. The guards were only, we had about, the guards who marched with us from the, our camp where we, where we slept uh, where we lived--I almost said lived, but that wasn't life--in the camps where we existed. They marched us to the workplace, then they used to stay in the corners or walk around to guard us. But the workers who actually worked with us were Germans, were German civilians.

Do you remember the name of any of the industries, the corporations?

No, I do not remember, no. This, this um, in Mühldorf we were--I don't remember the company now, no. It was a huge airplane factory that we couldn't finish.

It was a construction company.

Construction company, but I don't remember the name, no.

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