Freddie Knoller was so used to anti-semitism that he hardly questioned it, not since the day at school when, aged six years old, he punched a fellow pupil for shouting "Sans Jud" at him. November 9th 1938 the telephone rang: "The Synagogue is burning" Brownshirts entered the courtyard of the Knoller's apartment building. The crash of breaking windows, a scream and the body of a neighbour lay crumpled in the courtyard. Kristallnacht had come to the Knollers. This is the all too familiar background to Freddie Knoller's story of persecution, flight and the death camps of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. From a railway carriage the seventeen year old boy waved farewell to the receding figures of his parents, who he was never to see again. Surviving the horrors of a bombing, Freddie Knoller escaped to France, was interned, escaped again and driven by a childhood fantasy, made his way to Paris where he spent an extraordingary two years living on commissions from guiding German Soldiers to night clubs and brothels whilst, all around, he witnessed Jews rounded up by gendarmes. Arrested by the Gestapo Freddie fled and joined the Resistance. A betrayal led to his arrest and deportation to Auschwitz.
Freddie survived the camp and the infamous death march through the resources of luck, friendship and optimism. After a period in Dora Nordhausen, where he was forced to witness the hideous executions of other slave labourers, he was finally liberated from Belsen-Bergen by the British on April 15th 1945. The front cover shows a picture of Freddie's patch, saved from his prison shirt. In January 1945 during the death march after the evacuation of Auchwitz he swapped his yellow star for the red triangle of a dead French political prisoner - it probably saved his life.