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Herbert Heinemann

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The wartime memories of Herbeit Heinemann

At the end of April 1945 mainly PoW’s1 of young age were separately indented for a transport into England. My comrade, Otto Krüger, PoW Nr. A872221, was also amongst [my group]. We left Sedelgem Camp - it used to be a large depot of the German Army - to bring us to Ostende for one or two days to stay in a neglected brickworks. Here I saw photos of German concentration camps [which] I had never heard of before in my life. A first I was unable to believe those cruel things happened in our country [and] many of my comrades could hardly believe that it was true. It was a shock to me. Later on I saw some more of those terrible pictures in Butterwick camp.

The Channel was very rough in these days therefore we could not cross the Channel before the 2nd of May in small landing crafts right into the mouth of the River Thames. Here we were regarded by reporter[s] of different papers taking photos of us (Herrenrasse2 ). There must be a photo of mine in one or the other paper I guess; maybe some of these papers should be saved in the archives of the Public Record Office or in the Imperial War Museum or anywhere else. After that we were more walking than marching along streets of London [by] the River Thames, to the left direction Kempton Park. Here we were registered and got a meal containing bread and corned beef and a cup of tea. Next day we left Kempton Park at night by tram - I believe in first class wagons – when British soldiers offered [us] tea and cigarettes and even were having a chat with us. In that night I noticed a much different kind of human being, they were fair and even kindly in the way of treating us. Now and then I took a nap because I was very, very tired. Next morning all of us left the train at a small station, I forgot the name, it was not Driffield - marching from there for hours into Butterwick Camp Nr.163, a tent camp with twelve men to a tent. Lucky now anyway to be able to have a rest, THANK GOD.

Arbeitsdienst Hitler Youth Training Camp - 1944

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