To: The MEDIA Re: CONCENTRATION CAMP SURVIVORS
Dear Sir / Madam,
My name is Alexander McClelland I am an Australian veteran of WWII, a TPI (Totally and Permanently Incapacitated) and a survivor of a Concentration Camp.
Aged 19 I volunteered for the AIF and fought as a Bren Gunner in 2/1 Infantery Btn in North Africa, Greece and Crete where I was wounded and captured by German forces. I spent the rest of the war as a POW but due to my many escape attempts I was finally put into the TEREZIN Concentration Camp close to the Theresienstadt Ghetto in Czechoslovakia.
I have recorded my experiences in an autobiographical book entitled : ‘The Answer — Justice’. In 1965 I was featured in an award winning but historically inaccurate Australian television documentary on Theresienstadt called ‘Where Death wears a smile’
I don’t receive my TPI Pension because of the heavy wounds I received in the battle action on Crete. I get my TPI Pension because of the inhumane treatment I received in the Concentration Camp. It is a mistake to believe that the Germans had enough spare manpower to staff and run the concentration camps. The Germans only ever guarded the outer perimeter of the camps, we Prisoners hardly saw German soldiers, so it was not the SS or German guards that beat me up daily.
No, the daily beatings that left me totally incapacitated, came from two fellow Prisoners called KAPOS.
Kapos (or Camp Police) had extra priviliges, such as their own room and they also had power, For example the Power to say who got to visit the Camp Sick Bay or the Camp Brothel, and because of the absence of the very disciplined Germans, these Kapos even had the Power over Life & Death.
The two Kapos that beat me daily, using a heavy wooden baton they called ‘Herr Doktor’ (The Doctor) were both fellow Prisoners, both were Jewish, one from Hungary and the other was, I believe, a Ukrainian. I was often witness when they dragged other hapless prisoners from their cells onto the ‘Appelplatz’ and beat them to death with ‘The Doctor’.
So whenever I meet a ‘ Camp survivor’ now, I look him deeply in the eyes to see what sort of a ‘survivor’ they are … whether they were really a Prisoner just like me, or whether they were one of the many ‘Privileged’ ones who survived the war being more inhumane to other Prisoners than the Germans ever were.
As a matter of fact, it was a German SS Soldier who saved my life after the Kapos, who after beating me sent me outside the camp on a work detail, with a dangerously poisoned leg. The SS Soldier walking by, saw my mates helping me, came over and then gave me his medical kit.
I now look deeply into the eyes of the ‘survivors’, because I know that not all Concentration Camp survivors were innocent victims. I know that a lot of the Prisoners were brutal and inhumane criminals. The world has never been told the whole truth about what life in the Camps was like. All we ever hear or read in the media is , how bad the German guards were and how badly they treated their Prisoners. I was in more than 8 POW Camps and a Concentration Camp, so who would know the truth? Me or the Media!
SincerelyAlexander McClelland PO Box 887 Toronto NSW 2283