Prologue

SURVIVOR is a true story of terror and of how to resist and to overcome. It describes not only the ordeals faced by an individual, but also many conditions in several countries of Europe during World War II that would not be recognized or believed by outsiders. It shows the attitudes and tactics developed to deal with the persecution by overwhelming military and police forces of powerful governments, using raids, imprisonment, extradition, or mass extinction. Attitude and tactics made the difference where millions failed and perished.

I escaped from many prison camps and transports to death camps, and was recaptured as many times in France, Switzerland, and Spain, persecuted by both sides to the conflict. The account was so incredible as to be roundly rejected by the U.S. State Department as a fabrication, inconsistent with all available intelligence information, when presented in support of an immigration visa application, in which a credible history of the last five years was required – until it was possible to document one key episode.

The nearest I came to actually being killed was in the Spanish concentration camp of Miranda de Ebro, when I tried to escape. I had carefully prepared a plan to hide under the truck delivering potatoes to the kitchen, whenever the truck was not being watched, then to slip underneath and support my elbows and legs on the I-beams of the chassis and holding a darkened piece of plywood toward the back so I would not be seen. When this plan was finally implemented, I did have a ride of a few hundred feet, but at the second gate I was discovered, and soon the lieutenant of the guard took aim at me with his handgun. With a fast torrent of words in fluent Spanish I talked him out of shooting me, as he had done with a Pole he had caught a few days earlier. This was my first escape attempt failed, after several successful getaways from concentration camps and transports in France and Switzerland, where I was always rearrested after a while. I was a refugee, a vagabond, an outlaw of the racist laws of Hitler and allegedly non-racist laws of war, at no fault of mine, never having violated any law of peace, nor confronted any judge.