Debbie: Could I ask you a couple more questions?
Debbie: What were you doing when the Germans came to arrest you?
Simon: I told you I went to see my mother, my brother, and my sister. We came to that rat house, or Bergermeister -- how do you say in English -- Mayor where he lived? An old woman came to us, some old people came to us and said, "Sally, why did you come? They already arrested your mother, your sister, and your brother."
Then, I went into the Mayor's house and when I went there he arrested me there -- right there! That's what I should mention. You know he was my best friend. He was the secretary to the Mayor and he brought me to the prison. He drove me from my home town to the prison and along the way I asked him what happened to him? Why are you taking me away? Why are you arresting me?
And he never answered me. He never said a word. He never even gave me an answer.
The reason I say he was my best friend is this: I used to play 15 years of soccer until I was hurt and couldn't play anymore. He was the president of the club and I was the business manager.
But, he never even spoke to me one word.
You know, that's the way it is! That's it!
Debbie: A couple more questions ... How long were you at the concentration camp?
Simon: November to February
Debbie: What years?
Debbie: What were the rooms like where you had to sleep at night?
Simon: It was overcrowded. It was a room in the concentration camp. A barrack. You know what a barrack is? A prison you know? When we got there, there was about 141 in one room that was originally built for about 30 or 35. We slept one on top of the other, on straw.
Debbie: You know how some people have numbers on their arms?
Simon: Sure. But, later on. That was later, after I was freed already. We had a number all right, but not burned on our arms.
It was bitter cold there you know. In November it was bitter cold. We had to give up our shoes, our clothes, our underwear, you had to give everything away you know. You only wore a striped suit, very thin clothes. You know you had nothing, no hat, no gloves, and nearly all the clothes had holes. It was November, December, January, February. It was one of the coldest times in Germany and the concentration camp was in one of the coldest regions. You know Munich? You've heard of the Alps, you know all that snow? That is where that concentration camp was.
Debbie: Did the Germans do anything to you?
Simon: The Germans themselves? No. I didn't suffer because of the German people.
You know I was supposed to go away in 1935. I had a choice to go to England, France, or Holland. I choose England. Later on the officials from Shell Oil Company told me, "Mr. Maier, we need you here more. If something gets worse we will take care of you because Shell Oil Company is everywhere." And Shell kept their word. What they did -- while I was in the concentration camp Grandma got a letter saying that when I got out of the concentration camp I should report to the United States.
Speaking about the time before Simon was sent to Dachau:
My Mother after that day, they let her go you know, and my two sons -- your father and your uncle Fred. But your Grandma and my sister, he put them in the town of Düsseldorf, in the town prison for one night.
Berta (In the background): It was one day.
Simon: Yea, then they sent them home too, yea that was it.
Debbie: What did Grandma do for money without you? To support her?
Simon: We had some money. When I had to leave Shell finally, he gave me enough money to live for the time being.
That was it.
Debbie: Did Grandma, my Father, and Uncle Freddie live in the same house that they were living in before?
Simon: Oh yeah.
Debbie: When you were in the concentration camp, did you see any of the inhumane things going on?
Simon: Inhumane -- oh sure, sure, sure. You should call it that. They had departments for bad guys -- what they thought were bad guys. But they weren't bad guys. When I was in the concentration camp there was even a prince from Austria there. He was cleaning the sewers. A prince, a regular prince, a royal prince from Austria was there. That was the way it was in that time when I was there. It was a place to teach the Nazis what they thought was right. In other words it was bad.
Debbie: Could you please tell me any stories of what you saw? Of what they did to the people?
Simon: I could tell you stories, but you are a girl. That is the reason I stop.
Debbie: Please. I'd really like to hear it, even though I am a girl.
Simon: You've heard of homosexuals?
Simon: You know what that is?
Simon: They had a lot of overseers. People who looked after the prisoners who were prisoners themselves. They either did something bad or were communists -- they had been there a couple of years. They were mixed people, not only bad people and homosexuals, they came one night and attacked some people. But I was fortunate, to be truthful they never came to me.
Oh yea, I wanted to tell you one first night in prison camp at that time there was a high fence about 20 or 30 feet that was loaded with electricity. The first night a couple of guys wanted to escape. We heard them fire shots.
One more thing, In the months while I was there, there was not one day not one morning when there were not deaths. Where we did not have to carry dead people out of the barracks.
Debbie: Did you have to carry dead people?
Simon: No, no. I never really had to do that. I was glad I never had to do that.
Debbie: Did you see any of your friends killed?
Simon: No, not killed. Mishandled. I mean it was awful there. There was one fellow who was from the neighboring town near where I was from -- I visited him later in a hospital in Köln, They hit him so much that he later on died when he came out of the concentration camp. But he was so clever, he suffered broken arms and broken legs because they hit him so much. He was covered with blue marks. They wouldn't release you with blue marks. He waited until the blue marks went away so that he could be released.
Debbie: What were some of things that you saw that they did to other people?
Simon: Cold, cold, cold things. Cold things that nobody could have imagined.
Debbie: Could you tell me some of those things?
Simon: No. It's too bad.
Berta, in the background: I think we've had enough
Simon: Yes, I've had enough. I don't want to go into the past.
There was a break in the tape and then:
Simon: If someone tried to tell what happened and tried to tell how they suffered, even if they over did it -- even that would not be bad enough to tell the truth of how it really was.
Berta: Ok Sally, forget about it now! Enough.
Simon: She asked me how many meals. About two meals and you know you couldn't drink when you wanted to. You know what he did? Every second or third day he gave us pure salt. Do you know what that did? You crave water. At night you had such thirst.
Berta: Sally enough!
Debbie: Thank you very much.
Simon Maier's interview
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