I was there.
Reinhard Florian was born in a Sinti family in Matheninken, East Prussia. As a “Gypsy,” Reinhard was not allowed to learn a trade and was assigned to forced agricultural labour.
In 1941, Reinhard was arrested by the Gestapo and eventually deported to Bialystok ghetto. Reinhard endured harsh conditions in several concentration camps in the years that followed and, in January 1945, he was forced on a death march to Loslau. From there Reinhard was again deported to Mauthausen and the Ebensee subcamp.
After the liberation, Reinhard learned that, besides his father, only one of his eight brothers and sisters had survived the war.
Reinhard Florian (1923-2014), Germany
Reinhard talks about his childhood, family and schooling.
1) Listen to Reinhard as he talks about his childhood. Then answer the questions.
1a. What does Reinhard remember of his childhood before 1937? Write down three expressions.
1b. How did the persecution affect his family’s life after 1937?
1c. Reinhard was 14 at the time. In what ways do you think his life differed from those of children not discriminated by racial laws?
Arrest and Deportation (1941)
Reinhard talks about being arrested by the Gestapo and deported to a camp.
2) Listen to Reinhard as he talks about being arrested and deported. Then answer the questions.
2a. What did Reinhard think was the reason for his arrest? What do you think the real reason could have been?
2b. How was it possible that those being persecuted had not known what was happening in the extermination camps?
Gusen and Auschwitz-Birkenau (1941-1945)
Reinhard talks of his time in the camps.
3) Listen to Reinhard as he talks about his time in Gusen and Auschwitz-Birkenau. Then answer the questions.
3a. What are your thoughts about the "Christmas speech" mentioned in the interview?
3b. Was the task of making the beds a positive or negative thing for Reinhard?
Mauthausen and Liberation (1945)
Reinhard talks of the last days in the camp and the liberation.
4) Listen to Reinhard as he talks about his time in Mauthausen and what he experienced during the liberation. Then answer the questions.
4a. Why do you think it was important for the Nazis to move the inmates from camp to camp while running away from enemy troops? Why didn’t they just leave them in the camps?
4b. What kind of emotions did Reinhard feel at the moment of being liberated?