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Simon (Sally) Maier

Simon (Sally) Maier was a survivor of Holocaust.  He had been in Dachau concentration camp.  He was my grandfather.  My family was fortunate -- My Grandfather, Grandmother Berta, father Helmut Jakob (Jack) and Uncle Manfred (Fred) Maier were able to leave Germany.   My Grandfather's brother and sister,  Alfred and Elsa Maier, were not so fortunate, they were murdered in a concentration camp.  In 1978, when I was a senior in High School, I interviewed my Grandfather and captured the interview on cassette tape.  His accent is rather thick and I've made a few grammatical changes prior to publishing it on the web.  He died a few years later and I consider the tape to be one of my most prized possessions.  I am born to remember my grandfather and the others who survived the Holocaust.                 

Please contact me with any comments or similar experiences or 412-427-5500.   

Thank you,

Debbie Maier Jacknin

 The Interview:  

Debbie:  What concentration camp were you in?

Simon:  Dachau.  Before I was in Dachau, I was for 10 days in prison.  Then, they put us in handcuffs and took us on a truck.  But, it started in a different way you know.  We were living in Köln and it was so bad.  The synagogues were burning and everything was destroyed.  My mother still lived in the town where I was born and we wanted to know what was happening to her -- my mother, my sister, and my brother.  When I got there, they already took my mother, my sister, and my brother.  In the mean time, I heard later my brother was already sent to that concentration camp where I met him later on.  To make a long story short, after I got out of prison they took me in handcuffs to a train.  I was in the train overnight, maybe it was a days ride, it was far away from where we were and we then we came to Dachau.  When we arrived, it was raining cats and dogs, but I had my leather coat on so it didn't affect me so much.  Most people were sick already.  We arrived in the nighttime.  Then the daytime arrived and we saw the many prisoners who came before we did.  We saw arms in slings from the hitting of the Nazis.  It was winter.  To make the story short again, the next morning we got our hair shaved off -- not only cut, but shaved -- really shaved!  Then they took us to a big hole.  We didn't know what happened there -- we were bathed there.  First, really hot water came -- really hot, then came cold -- ice cold water.  One after the other.   Many people got sick, it was one of the worst concentration camps there was in Germany.

Simon (Sally) Maier, My  Grandfather

Debbie:  Do you remember how the conditions were? 

Simon:  Yea, sure.  It was bad.  You had to work very hard, you had to carry stones.  It took about 10 hours a day.  Then, the next day maybe they had something else.  We had to march like crazy you know.  The food was awful and you couldn't get any medicine. 

Debbie:  How many meals did you eat a day?

Simon:  2 meals.  In the morning you got coffee and a little bit of dry bread.  The ones who were a little bit fortunate and had some money could buy something at canteen, if you can call it canteen.  It wasn't really canteen.  I didn't have any money.  When I came in they took everything away.  I was a smoker back then and I didn't have anything to smoke. 

My brother (Alfred Maier) saw that he made a little bit of money for other people.  He had a little pipe with him.  I didn't have a pipe with me you know.  Then, he got some tobacco, he had a little bit in his pocket and he saved some.  He gave me always a little bit too.  He was a heavier smoker than I was. To make a long story short, after a certain amount of time, many months, Grandma made an application so that they can get me out.  (In the background you could hear my Grandmother chuckle and say, "Once  they freed the wrong guy.)  My brother was released about 2 weeks before me because of the fact that my father was killed in the first world war.  He had more privilege than I had.  The oldest son was released first.      

Alfred Maier, Simon's older brother who was murdered in 1942 in a concentration camp . 

Simon:  Grandma got me a ticket for Shanghi.  You had to produce for the Gestapo, for the SS, you had to produce a ticket.  So, she got a ticket for Shanghi.  You know I never used it.  But, I came out because she could get that.  I was released because of that.

Berta Maier, Simon's wife and my Grandmother.



Simon:  I am making it shorter because there are things I don't want to tell you.

Debbie:  But I want to hear.

Simon:  I don't want to tell you


Simon:  Then, one day I got out and went to Munich, then from Munich to Köln.  And, I'll never forget your Dad :)  when we got to the train station you know the train came in and your Dad he came like this (sounds  like he was holding his hands out for a hug) and I grabbed him.  You know the kids were small.  Your Dad was not quite 6 and his brother, he was about 4.  No, not quite 4.  When I came home, I had to report right away to the Gestapo that I was back. 

Berta (in the background):  Uncle Fred played a big part (he was the man who sponsored the Maier family enabling them to come to America).

Berta:  He got us out.

Simon:  That part comes later.  That comes much later.

Simon:  From there Grandma and I went out of our home to the park and I wrote a letter to Shell Oil Company (he worked for Shell) in London, England saying that I should come out.   And they in return sent me a letter that I could come.  But, when I came to the Consulate they said they never  heard of that.  I sent another letter  to Shell Oil Company in England and they wrote back saying when you get this  letter everything will be settled.  Instead of sending the telegram to Köln, it went to Berlin.  

H. Jack Maier, my father as a young boy in Germany.

Simon:  But, the worst was still before me.  I had to go to the Gestapo and I had to ask them if I could go Abroad, that means to England, you know.  Then, he asked me so many questions, "What did I do for the Shell Oil Company?"  And I didn't tell them the truth.  Somebody must have given me a voice on the inside that that I didn't tell the truth.  I said I was rolling barrels and loading barrels and cleaning barrels -- which by the way I used to do when I started with Shell years ago.  But, by that time I had advanced to superintendent.    So finally he gave me permission to leave Germany. 

From there we went to England.  We were there for about one year.  Again, Shell Oil Company asked us if I would stay in England and I said, "No, I want to go to the United States."  We finally did.  And I arrived in the United States in the beginning of Spring.  When we were aboard the boat it was terrible.  It was a horrible sea voyage.  You know what a sea voyage is?  You go on a boat.  And later on we heard, after we were in the United States for almost a year, we heard that the the boat that we went across to the United States was sunk by the evacuation of Dunkirk.  You heard about that?  The second world war started and the boats were all just for immigration.  That was an English boat that was sunk by the evacuation of Dunkirk. 

I cannot tell you everything. 

I would like to tell you that it was more horrible then I can tell you.

I did not tell you every detail.

There were so many scientists and so many authors of books.

When we were in the concentration camp, we used to say that there will never be anybody who will be able to tell the real story of all this.  Because, nobody can do that -- will do that.  You know, someone who went through this terrible thing can write a book.  But, he can only remember. 

As I told you, it was worse than anyone can ever imagine. 

That's it.     

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Simon (Sally) Maier, my grandfather as I remember him -- sitting in his favorite chair! Top of Page