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Being Sick in Camp

Heroes Remember

I took sick. I had pneumonia and pleurisy. And normally if you got pneumonia or pleurisy in Buchenwald you were dead because there was no medical attention whatsoever. There was no medication for anything. If you took sick, you died. If you died, you weren't cremated. You had to either survive on your own, get better on your own or you were dead. So they put me in a building called the infirmary which was a building not like our infirmary but just a big hut which housed all those who were dying and so I was surrounded by people dying everyday. People crying, people with their arms up pleading for somebody to help them. Eveybody had diarrhea, everybody had dysentery, ruining through the mattress on the ground. It was the most horrible, the most putrid environment to be in. Everybody was sick and so how I survived is a miracle but I found out many, many years later how I survived. There was a secret organization within Buchenwald formed by high ranking communists and Russian military. They were scared that towards the end of the war and this was August, September, 1944, it was quite obvious the Germans would lose the war and they were all worried that if the Germans are going to lose the war they would destroy Buchenwald, destroy everything, leave no evidence and so what this group of people had done, they had formed a highly secreted organization. They had even a piece of steel with spikes on it, they had even smuggled guns so what the plan was in the event that the Germans were gonna try and destroy Buchenwald they would raid the gate, run the gate, try to get people out, so they had witness to what happened. It was them, when they found out that I was an allied airman, they showed concern and sympathy for me. So they would move me around this hut so that when the German guard, a German doctor came through every week, if he thought you were in that bed too long, he would give a signal to people following him and they would inject something in your heart and kill you because if you couldn't walk out of the infirmary, you were dead. You either walked out of there to work or you went to the crematorium and so they, the ones that saved my life, they kept moving me around so that the German doctor would not recognize that I was in the same bed twice.

While in the infirmary, Mr. Carter-Edwards witnesses the sick and dying prisoners all around him; the most horrific environment ever witnessed.

Ed Carter-Edwards

Edward (Ed) Carter-Edwards was born on April 2, 1923, in Montréal, Quebec, and was raised in Hamilton, Ontario. He enlisted in August 1942, and then joined 427 (Lion) Squadron, 6 Royal Canadian Air Force Group, in Leeming, England. He was a wireless operator air gunner and completed 21 successful missions in a Halifax bomber. On his 22nd mission, Mr. Carter-Edwards was shot down near Paris. He was betrayed to the Gestapo by a collaborator, threatened with execution and forced into the Fresnes prison, near Paris. He spent five weeks in the prison in 1944 followed by a five-day trip in a French cattle car to the notorious Buchenwald concentration camp. He was there for three and a half months as one of 26 Canadians - 168 allied airmen in all. He was forced to participate in two death marches shortly before the end of the war. Once released from service and safely back home, Mr. Carter-Edwards returned to Hamilton and worked at the appliance manufacturer Westinghouse. He was married in 1946, and he and his wife raised three children.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
June 25, 2012
Person Interviewed:
Ed Carter-Edwards
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Bomber Command
Air Force
4th Medium Artillery Regiment
Wireless Air Gunner

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