On Oct. 22, in Enns, Austria, a memorial was dedicated to the 22,000 mostly Jewish prisoners of Mauthausen Concentration camp, who were death marched in April 1945 from Mauthausen to Gunskirchen Concentration Camp, 34 miles away. More than 10,000 of the marchers died of exhaustion or were killed on the march or soon after.
My father was on one death March on April 6, 1945, and he escaped. He was recaptured and escaped from a second death march, on April 16. This time he was hidden by a local family, the Friedmanns, until the American Army liberated the town on May 5, 1945.
I tell the story in my book, Death March Escape. In part because of the book, people in Enns got together and erected this memorial to the death marchers generally, and to my father specifically. It is located at the site of his first escape. The book tells my father’s story and sheds light on the cruelty of the Nazis both in the concentration camps and on those death marches, and the bravery of a few people in the town of Enns, who ensured my father’s survival.
Death March Escape is available to order here.
“Hersch’s amazing tale is told for the first time by his son Jack who has retraced his footsteps for his new book” – The Daily Mail
“In a warm and emotionally engaging story, Jack digs deeply into both his father’s life and his own, revisiting – and reflecting on – his father’s time at the hands of the Nazis during the last year of the Second World War, when more than mere survival was at stake – the fate of humanity itself hung in the balance” – GoodReads Reviewer
Originally posted on October 27, 2022 at pen-and-sword.co.uk.