DORA - Propos d'un Bagnard a ses enfants by Richard Pouzet Published by A. Castet Imprimeur - Testimony from a prisoner who stayed in the Buchenwald - Dora camp for ten months. Written within the camp, and during the first months of its liberation. Paris 1945 - first edition. Copy signed by the author. French.
"My three dears, your father is the one who, from the depths of Germany, sketched these lines for you, in order to strengthen his memories and records before they fade away, even at the cost of harming himself...". Fascinating publication documenting the story of a prisoner from the Dachau concentration camp, Richard Pouzet [1904-1971], to his children about his experiences in the camp, when he returned from the death camp alive. Richard wrote down his accounts in notebooks during the months of liberation for his family members, and after the war, when he had the opportunity to meet his three children and his friends, he orally recounted the events to them. They took the stories without any editing changes and transcribed them, and that is how the book before us came to be. This is, in fact, the firsthand testimony delivered at the end of the war without any editing by a writer or even by Richard himself. In the introduction to the book, which was published in December 1945, it was written about this as follows: "This book was born without the knowledge of its author, when Richard Pouzet was returned to us, still exhausted from what he had been through, his friends harassed him with questions about his painful stay in the German camps... We his friends believed that despite his modesty ... It is appropriate to give the material to the public in France... We took the initiative to publish these things that were often said in an intimate tone, we did not want to make even the slightest change in the text that was said. We are passing it on in its initial form... In publishing this book we did not care about flashy publication or success in publishing. The work is self-sufficient... We have no editor, and no publisher... We leave Richard Pouzet's words to speak for themselves...".
The author was arrested on August 5, 1944 and taken for interrogation in the Gestapo basement, he felt that the Nazis treated him as a dangerous criminal who posed a threat to "Greater Germany". Already while his arrest, he realized that the worst was still ahead of him because at this point he already knew about the crimes of the Nazis and their cruelty, and made a deep and determined decision that no matter what, he would survive. After a stay of about two weeks in the Gestapo prison, he was transported with about 100 other prisoners in terribly overcrowded cattle cars. After two days of traveling, there were prisoners who mustered the courage to try and escape and were shot on the spot. The Germans announced that for every prisoner who tried to escape, they would shoot 10 others in return. At that moment, the attempts to escape from the train stopped. After 120 hours of travel, the train finally arrived in Buchenwald, when the bodies of many of his friends who did not survive the journey were removed from the train. When he arrived at Buchenwald, the camp contained about 40,000 prisoners. With 500 prisoners in each block. All his possessions including his clothes and the clothes of the prisoners with him were taken, his hair was shaved, and he and his friends were given prisoner uniforms. Richard says that within a few minutes you could no longer recognize who the prisoners were next to you. People who until yesterday were your friends, today you cannot recognize them.
From here he recounts in detail the stay in the camp for ten months while revealing his deepest feelings during those difficult months. Along with descriptions of what he saw with his eyes and what he experienced on a daily basis, such as the exhausting daily roll calls, sleeping on the floor for lack of space on top of the mattresses in the block every night, the hunger, the freezing cold, the many perishing daily due to the inability to withstand the harsh conditions, the diseases that ran rampant in the camp, forced labor, the daily war of survival when many of his friends he knew died by his side, alongside all these he describes his intimate feelings - the longing for his children, the thought of suicide as an escape from hell, the thought of how his family would react when they heard that he had perished, the hope for freedom upon hearing about the allied bombings towards the end of the war, and above all what kept him alive was the invincible will to survive and the fight for life.
In one of the chapters he describes a horrific scene of the Nazis organizing to blow up the factory where he and his friends worked as the Allies advanced. Despair began to nestle in him that after all the months he managed to survive the cold and hunger, now in one bomb of a few seconds everything might be over. Richard did not give up, and with a certain ruse he employed he managed to work that day in the nearby tunnel, and thus was not present at the place of the bombing, even though it was his regular place of work. It is interesting to note that he writes that due to lack of sleep, he almost did not understand at those moments the magnitude of the miracle that happened to him. Only after the release, when he recounted the actions he took at that time, did he understand how his life was miraculously saved, etc.
222 p. + 11 photo plates. Very good condition.