“I must also inform you that father has gone on a transport. Where to, I do not know.”

Karl Clemens to Alfred Petermann

Karl Clemens to Alfred Petermann front side

In March 1943

the Hamburg Kriminalpolizei arrested Karl Clemens, his parents and several of his siblings. They were made to board a train at the Hannoverscher Bahnhof to Auschwitz-Birkenau. There they were held in a section of the camp for Sinti and Roma families. Karl Clemens, then 14 years old, was deported by the SS to different camps as a forced labourer. Via Buchenwald and various other places, he came to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp at the end of the war.

He wrote this postcard a few weeks before liberation from a satellite camp of the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp. However, it never reached his sister and brother in law, probably due to the chaos at the end of the war.

Karl Clemens was one of the few members of his family to survive. As he wrote in the postcard, he last saw his father in April 1945. After that there is no further trace of his father. After liberation, Carl Clemens lived primarily in Hildesheim.

Karl Clemens to Alfred Petermann reverse side

Postcard transcription:


Prisoner Karl Clemens
No. 74138/E. D.o.B.: 2.11.27
Sangerhausen, […]
Block 4

Alfred Petermann
[…] Lichtenfels/Oberfranken
Mühlbach 11. […] Zipfel

Dear Sister and Brother-in-Law,

I was pleased to receive your letter on 19.3.45. I must also let you know that Motzi unfortunately went to another block and I only get to be with him when he has day shift. This week he is on the day shift and I am always with him. I must also inform you that father has gone on a transport. Where to, I do not know. I am already looking forward to the package which is on its way. If you can, send me things more often, even when it’s only bread.  My best wishes and kisses to you, my sister, brother-in-law and the little Lino.

Your R.[…]

*For the benefit of readability, amendments were made in transcription

Further research options:

TikTok Video: Karl Clemens´ postcard
Research tool: https://collections.arolsen-archives.org/de