Walter Morgenbesser

* 1930  †︎ 2017

  • “That was in Sachsenhausen on the day of the evacuation. You know who a ‘kapo’ was. There was a Ukrainian kapo, he was a beast, a murderer. It was the law that if one steals bread from another, he dies. Two woke up at midnight and started to shout: ‘They stole my bread, they stole my bread!’ I had my bread tied up with string, if someone pulled at it, I would wake up. I woke up and my bread was there. That was in January 1945 after the evacuation of Ravensbrück-Sachsenhausen. I fell asleep again, and when I woke up, all that remained was the string, the bag with the bread was gone. I was hysterical. Bread was everything I had. Without bread you have nothing.”

  • “There were some sixteen seventeen of us Jewish children from Slovakia there. And some seventy Gipsy children, about my age, some a bit older or younger. They were castrated.”

  • “ ‘Now take the revolver and shoot me.’ He had a very nice Walther Revolver. ‘Why do you want me to shoot you?’ - ‘Because I lied to you.’ - ‘In what way did you lie to me?’ - ‘Up until now you didn’t know, so I’ll tell you the truth. I’m a Jew!’ And what he replied was: ‘Jude ist kein Mensch?’ - ‘Isn’t a Jew human?’ ”

  • “Always, when I think back to those things, I have to cry. It is my luck that I can cry. I am not ashamed of it. It is my luck because it gives me relief.”

  • “ ‘Come on, take the boots from that German!’ He opened him up (killed him) completely. I told him: ‘Thank you, my clogs are better, I don’t want the boots.’ He saw that I was frightened, that I didn’t want to look. He then revealed something to me: ‘Do you know who I am?’ He was a Russian major. ‘I’m the son of the head rabbi from Kiev. What I just did now, that’s what they did to my family. They murdered my whole family. I don’t use a weapon in Germany. [...] What they did to my family, I am doing here.’ ”

  • Full recordings
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    Cholon, Izrael, 05.11.2012

    duration: 02:33:04
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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It is my luck that I can cry

Walter Morgenbesser after arriving in Israel
Walter Morgenbesser after arriving in Israel
photo: archiv pamětníka

Walter Morgenbesser was born in 1930 in Spišská Nová Ves as the youngest of seven sons of a Jewish tailor. During the war the family was covered by the president’s economic exception, Walter’s father sewed uniforms for officers, his eldest brother had a medical practice in Humenné. Walter Morgenbesser skipped around the town without a Star of David, apparently he even served an officer of the Wehrmacht for a while for a bit of food. In 1944 together with his parents, he was deported from Prešov to Auschwitz - he was held at Ravensbrück and Sachsenhausen. Towards the end of the war he was a fellow inmate of the film director Juraj Herz. Together with Walter’s father, the three of them saved themselves in the last days of the war. After the war he departed to Israel, he worked as a driver and a mechanic. In 1990-2 he served as a driver at the Czechoslovak Embassy in Israel.