Channouch Mandelbaum, called Heini at the time, was one of many children that has been sent from Germany to the Netherlands. Thanks to his zionist sentiment he got the chance to stay in Westerbork until 1943. Under the pretext of being exchanged to Palestine, he was brought to Bergen-Belsen. As one of only a few he survived „den Verlorenen Zug“: the last transport of jews out of Bergen-Belsen. Driven by his zionist sentiment, Channouch was working his further life in and for Israel – an Israel that unfortunately more and more breaks away from its former intention.
»People were talking. Everyone knew everything, heard everything. Where we got it from? From JPA of course – the so called jewish flat foot agency. And why? It was well known that Jews had flat feet.«
born 1923 in Germany, now resides in Jerusalem
When we had this interview, Channouch Mandelbaum is not doing well at all. Still he took the huge effort to meet us, talk to us and even change postition for the pictures – even though that was causing him great pain. Channouch is still fighting: fighting for making people listen to his own story and the ones of all the survivors, fighting for getting these stories to people’s minds so that they will never be forgotten.
At young age, Channouch came to the promised land together with the love of his life and with great hopes. In Israel, his new home, he worked as a carpenter and when he is talking about putting the first nail into his home, his state Israel, there is much pride in his voice.The table he made for Israel’s annoucement of independence can still be visited today. Channouch thinks the visions they had in former times are vanishing step by step and that makes him feel sad and angry.
However, there are many good things as well. The girl, Cannouch met in Paris after the war, is now his wife for more than 65 years. While we were talking to him, she was sitting at the side of his bed and watching him not to get stressed out. At the wall in his room there is a collage with their family tree. It shows his children, grand children and great grand children – mentioning them makes Channouch smile.
At noon we ended our interview with Channouch, as he was getting tired. However, he pointed out how important it is to him that we pass his story down to the world. He made it his own task to talk about his story as long as he is able to do so. While we were leaving his house, a thought comes to our mind: The survivors cannot let go as long as our society thinks it’s easier to block out what had happend.