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Slovakia - death of a slave labourer

A story from the occupation

After my period of forced labour we spent some months in Displaced Persons camps waiting for transport to our homes. I remember one fellow student who used to be my neighbour at home who kept missing out from being included in a transport of mainly sick youths who travelled mainly in goods carriages. At the end of summer he managed to get into one of transports and finally arrived home. I was out in the garden and someone called me. I was happy to see my friend standing on the other side of the wire fence separating our gardens. We greeted each other by shaking hands as he managed to put his skinny right hand through such a tiny gap of the fence not be penetrated by the hand of a healthy adult. I was amazed to hear of his sufferings and of his efforts and desire to get home by any means even though he continually weakened and was rapidly losing weight. He was receiving medical help including long operation in a specialist sanatorium. Despite all the effort by the caring doctors his health continued to deteriorate.


My friend and neighbour died after a great deal of suffering. He managed to fulfil his determination after surviving the hell of the war and difficulties of staying in camps to get home and finally to come to rest in home soil.


Every All Saints day I stand by his grave and bow my head when lighting a candle and smelling the chrysanthemum flowers. I remember him as an innocent student who was taken to do forced labour and who became a victim of the second world war, like many, many others.

Markus Gall
Born in 1924
April 2002


Left is a typical DP camp in Austria in 1945. About 9 million europeans were displaced by the war -- slave labourers, concentration camp survivors, abandoned or orphaned children, whole villages fleeing from combat zones.

You can read Markus Gall's own story here.

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