Walter Beck

* 1921  †︎ 2013

  • “There was always the risk. And my mother knew what was going on. The police were there waiting for me. If I were sitting at home and the police came, it would be different. It was the Czech police. They did those kinds of messenger services. And when I came and ring the bell, my mother was so fast that she was the first one at the door.”

  • “Those from the Arbeiteinsatz, they were good guys. There were three of them. One of them used to be a burglar but the main one was an SS man, but a very good person. So one of them waited for me, then we went to the office and he said: 'First we have to put everything here in order. Today you'll be watching us and tomorrow you'll start working with us.' Alright then. It was done in half an hour so they told me what I was supposed to do. They showed me the records. I was supposed to fill in an entry card for everyone. There was the name and other information they needed. So I started doing that and they told me: 'There is no hurry. Take your time. The most important thing is that there should not be any mistakes. Then the SS commander came and asked: 'What is he doing here?' And they said: 'That is our new writer.' 'And does he know how to do it?' 'Yes he does.' And that was more or less it.“

  • “Our transport to Mauthausen was not as bad as many others. There were much worse ones. We came to the train station in Mauthausen... I didn't know anything. In the train we discussed if they were taking us to Dachau or somewhere else. When we came to the station, somebody said that it looked like Mauthausen – that was when I heard it for the first time. We came out of the train. Some SS officers were waiting on the platform and some came with us on the train. The transport was relatively calm. Maybe they might have beaten someone in another wagon. We were sitting in passenger wagons – no cattle cars. When somebody wanted to go for a toilet, he was allowed to. There was always an SS man guarding at the door so that he would not jump out. There were guards also at the front and back of every wagon and the others were patrolling through the wagons. From time to time they shouted at someone, when they thought they talked too much.“

  • “That was still fun. We got off the train and some SS officers welcomed those who came. They were old friends from the service or so. So they greeted each other and then the Lagerführer, his name was Bachmayer, stopped it. There was hardly any beating. Only a few prisoners who were not careful enough got beaten. Bachmayer didn't speak Czech so he asked for someone who could speak German and one of the prisoners, an attorney who was not called to speak, said that he hadn't said it right. So they called for him and he was beaten. Those who were active in the resistance already knew how to behave when one gets arrested - never to tell them anything.“

  • “There was one sculptor, I don't remember his name... He was fat and he couldn't walk so there were four other men carrying him inside.There was another one, following them and he was carrying all their coats and hats, everything put on himself. We went through the gate and the SS officers laughed at that. So the first impression didn't seem to be that bad. Then we came in and we were lined in the yard. And some of them started telling us: 'This is Mauthausen. This is not a cafeteria.' Something like that. That everything had to be in order and so on...”

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    V Praze, 12.11.2008

    duration: 01:48:15
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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Those who were active in the resistance already knew how to behave when one gets arrested – never to tell them anything

Walter Beck was born on February 8, 1921 in Olomouc. After finishing his studies which included German language, he joined the anti-Nazi resistance. He was active in the resistance until his arrest in 1941. He was imprisoned in Prague-Pankrác and later transported to Mauthausen concentration camp, where he was interned until the end of the war. Thanks to his knowledge of German, he had a “prominent” position as a scribe and thus eluded the worst persecution. After the war, he sympthazied with the Communist party but changed his political views after 1948. Due to his political beliefs he was forced to abandon his job at a logistics company and had to work as a tool sharpener.