Nazi Horrors Vivid Memories For Wwii Work Camp Survivor

Advertisement

In the insanity of Nazi Germany, male citizens of countries who had come under German rule became a part of forced labor and were required to perform work in Nazi factories.

It was in this way that Bob Jacobs now of Payson, then of Holland became an unwilling laborer for the Third Reich.

After escaping this cruelty, Jacobs was captured and sentenced. He was shackled, placed in a prison vehicle and taken to a local jail to await transportation to a camp which finally came some three months later.

He shared a 6-foot-by-15-foot cell with 26 other prisoners, including a Frenchman who was beaten daily for distributing pamphlets for the French Underground.

"After three weeks there, the Frenchman didn't return after a beating. We never saw him again, and we knew he was dead," Jacobs said.

The men slept on a concrete floor, in the dead of winter, with no blankets. All Jacobs had to keep warm was an overcoat.

When their jail sentence came to an end, the men were taken to a camp in Liebenau, in Northern Germany surrounded by double rows of electric barbed-wire fencing with 'serpentines' of barbed wire between, and patrolled by killer dogs that were turned loose at night.

To ward off the bitter cold, Jacobs and the other men on his work team used paper cement bags as underwear a forbidden article of clothing.

At one point, Jacobs was assigned as a ditch-digger on a project connecting piping between underground factoriesnear Bergen Belsen. "Without shoring up, the ditches were dug 25 feet deep," he said. "There were cave-ins regularly; it was fine sand."

Often, men were trapped by the cave-ins. But their bodies were not allowed to be dug out until after quitting time. "Then we could do it on our own time," Jacobs said.

Each morning began with a slice of bread and a little marmalade, he said. "That was all. At noon, there was nothing, and at night we had water with cabbage in it."

Jacobs described the soup line procedure thusly: "Take off cap, salute guard and present bowl to cook ... If the guard didn't like you, he would hit the bottom of the bowl and you didn't get anything."

After five months and the loss of considerable weight, Jacobs was taken to the jail in Hannover. Upon his departure, Jacobs said, "I was told I should never mention to anybody what happened to me."

Back at the factory, conditions had not improved since his first time there. So Jacobs fled ... and again was caught and sent to a concentration camp, this one more brutal than the first.

That time, one of his "assignments" involved camouflaging a manufacturing plant to make the area look like a forest from the air.

"The Allies were not fooled," he said, "and when the bombs started to fall, there were explosions where gas pipes (had been) hit."

Soon after, Jacobs entered a sewer pipe and pulled off escape No. 3. This time he was successful.

"I went to a canal where there was a Dutch barge, and that's where I lived for two months, until liberation by the American Army, April 9, 1945," he recalled.

Fifty-five years later, from his Payson home, Jacobs reflected on his treatment by the Nazis.

"I was subjected to a lot of beatings. When the Gestapo beats you, they beat you until you say 'yes.'"

Of the Germans, he said, "The people are OK. It was just the Nazi criminals. In addition to 6 million Jewish people, 5 million (members of other) nationalities were annihilated.

"I want to let people know (what happened) ... We must never allow it to be forgotten, because if we say it never happened, then we fool ourselves even more.

"And then we make it possible for it to happen again."

Commenting has been disabled for this item.