Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Nathan Nothman - November 30, 1982

Meeting Himmler

I do remember once, he took a machine gun--Göeth --from his white horse and it was Appell. And just, just shoot, like this, with machine gun. Two hundred, hundred. There was nothing. There was nothing, just sport. His girlfriend once lost a diamond. He brought it--he brought her--his girlfriend uh, from Austria--from Germany. Who knows where? She lost a diamond. He give ultimatum that he wanted the diamond to be found. And thirty, forty, fifty, or who knows how many people look for it. He was driving with a horse someplace. I do remember once, I don't know, I was almost killed. There was Himmler--Himmler was the chief of the Gestapo--and what we have--when we drill the holes to explode it, we're supposed to raise a flag and we're supposed to say, "Achtung, Achtung," explosion so and so. So everybody's supposed to be quiet, and that--the Steinberg--that's where we drill a hole--to entrance was maybe about a half a mile, quarter of a mile, something. I cannot uh, remember was it--let's make it quarter of a mile, not even that. Okay, let's, let's go a quarter of a mile. And it was a big--it's a steam machine, something was there. So I was behind it. And then I see Himmler with three of them Nazis coming, open the door and they want to come talk to the explosion. I said, "That happen, they will kill all the Jews." So I took the red flag and I said to him--and they pulled the gun to me right away. But I said, "Explosion, explosion!" So they tore in the car and went back out of the way. But some stone hit, not them. So I think I must have done the right thing. Should I let 'em go? Who knows what would happen, maybe they will kill the whole Jews. But a peasant doesn't react only to--because there would be disaster. I wished I would be--that's what happened and I, I can't--I don't know. Did I done the right thing or wrong? Because if they would continue to go closer, maybe they will not kill or who knows, but I would be dead. I would be dead. He is dead and I'm alive. So I don't know what will happen. I don't know how many people would die in the ghetto. So, so they came in--they--when explosion everything in--they put the gun in and they look me, they look me as a young, fourteen, fifteen years old. They look me, and didn't say nothing. They look me around--the car got stones, you know, they were convertible, you know. They were--the convertible was down, ??? black one that. So they, they--so I don't know what happened, but from now on, when this explosion, we must notify the entrance. So when we exploded this was the entrance--they start pushing the gates closed. So probably, you know, a Jew save high ranking Nazi, but my life wouldn't be worth nothing. I probably would be executed or my--the whole thing. And there were thousands of them--60 thousand. So, long he is dead and they're dead and I'm alive and a lot of, a lot of people alive what I know. So I figured it was worth it.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn