From the Diary of British POW William Fisher

Fisher had written the text after liberation from notes he had made at the time on the back of photographs and odd scraps of paper

26 January 1945. God punish Germany….I have seen today the filthiest foulest and most cruel sight of my life….At 9 a.m. this morning a column straggled down the road towards Danzig – a column far beyond the words of which I am capable to describe. I was struck dumb with a miserable rage, a blind coldness which nearly resulted in my being shot…They came straggling through the bitter cold, about 300 of them, limping, dragging footsteps, slipping and falling, to rise and stagger under the blows of the guards – SS swine. Crying loudly for bread, screaming for food, 300 matted haired, filthy objects that had once been Jewesses! A rush into a nearby house for bread resulted in one being clubbed down with a rifle butt, but even as she fell in a desperate movement she shoved the bread she'd got into her blouse….

27 January 1945. temp 15 below. More Jewesses in similar condition to yesterday. Stan comes to me after dinner and tells me a Jewess has got away and he has her hiding in cows' crib. I suggest moving her to loft over camp. Plenty straw and the chimney from our fire will keep her warm. I arrange to take her to the camp. Wait till nearly dusk and go to Stan's farm. He hands over girl. I tell her to walk 5 paces near on other side of road and speak to no one. She is crippled, too frightened to understand me, grabs my arm. I am a bit windy as the Gerries [Germans] will stop us as it is definite "crime" for prisoner to speak or walk with women. ….Hot water, soap, towel, old clothes, stacks of food rushed up to her. One of the lads stays with horses (there are nine in the barn) and watches for civvies. Take all clothing off kid, give her paraffin for lice in her hair and bid her goodbye. She grabs my hand and kisses it, and tries to thank me. Calls me "Herr". I say roughly 'drop it, we are comrades, only doing what we can'. Had no chance for a good look at her, judge her to be 25 years of age.

28 January 1945. Everyone brings in food for our escapee. Hundred weigh peas, ducks, hens, best parts of a pig, bread by loaves. And believe me she ate 3 loaves today and 5 bowls of soup – somewhere around 22 libs of food. She's ill now – sick diarrhea. Suggest only milk for a few days.

29 January 1945…She is sixteen years of age. Comes from Lithuania. Been in various concentration camps – last being Stutthof….Been on the march for days. Told us: we were about 400 Jewesses. We were marched from Stutthof, where most of our clothes were taken from us. We had one blanket between my mother, my sister and I. Our food was three potatoes a day – and at night we were put in barns and huddled together for warmth. Many have died on the way, many have been murdered by clubbing or being shot….We have been on the move from Lithuania since last July. Today I could go no further. I said 'Mother, I am going to run away'. My mother said: 'Childe, if you must, then do so. God watch over you.'…I know God helped me, for shortly after Stan came to me and said to me: 'Don't move. I am English, don't be afraid'. English – I knew I was saved….We had a good look at her. Her eyes are large as is usual with starvation, sunken cheeks, no breasts, Hair has not been cut, body badly marked with sores caused by scratching lice bites. Head still a bit matted and lice still obviously in. I got my forefinger and thumb round the upper part of her arm easily. About 5'7" in height. Sonia is her name. Feet blue and raw with frostbite, the right heel is eaten away by frost and constant rubbing of badly fitting clog.

We have stolen clothing and a pair of shoes off the refugee wagons to replace her which is marked with the Jewish star in red dye. She sat till twelve making a new hat from material and sewing and talking. She will keep harping on her mother and sister and the concentration camp, but we forbid to mention them. She says I is very lonely and the time passes so slowly in the daytime. We arrange for fellows to pop in and out during the day…