The Man Who Worked for VW - on a Diet of Worms Industry and the Nazis: Auschwitz Victim Sues Top Firms That Profited from Concentration Camp Slave Labour
Jury, Louise, The Independent (London, England)
RUDY KENNEDY has worked for some of the most prestigious names in German industry, but they refused to pay him for his troubles.
Now he is determined to make them. Just because he was a Jewish prisoner of the Nazis when he performed his labours does not, he believes, exempt them from that duty. "They exploited us," he said.
Last week, at a meeting in north London, dozens of the former labourers heard details of a campaign to gain redress for that exploitation - of meetings with the German and American ambassadors and talks with lawyers.
Mr Kennedy, 69, is one of at least 170 men and women in Britain who were forced to work for the German war effort. It was an alternative way of killing them, for the average life expectancy of a slave labourer was just three months.
Mr Kennedy was 15 when he was sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp and set to work for a firm called IG Farben building a road.
"The temperature was about minus 10C. We were given wooden clogs but no socks, no underwear. We were freezing," he said. "I realised I couldn't survive it for very long."
After three weeks, his father managed to get them into an Auschwitz factory making electronic circuits for, he has since established, Siemens. "I think I had one more week to live at that point," he said.
They worked 12-hour days on a piece of bread and two bowls of watery soup which gave them diarrhoea. The only protein they could get was the occasional worm.
Then, in January 1945, they were moved again, to work in Volkswagen's underground factories manufacturing the V1 "doodlebug" bomb and the V2 rocket.
Mr Kennedy ended the war a tubercular skeleton in Belsen. Although he later escaped to Britain and built a successful career as an electronic engineer and a businessman, the scars remain.
It was a recent visit to Auschwitz that made him reconsider his ordeal. "I had neglected for 50 years really talking about it. But I had promised my father on his deathbed that I would not forget it," he said. "I decided I had to do …
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Publication information: Article title: The Man Who Worked for VW - on a Diet of Worms Industry and the Nazis: Auschwitz Victim Sues Top Firms That Profited from Concentration Camp Slave Labour. Contributors: Jury, Louise - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: August 3, 1998. Page number: 6. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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