Victor was a camp elder of subcamp Kaufering, a real honcho. Absolute ruler over
Kapos, block leaders and others. In rank, twice as high as them and four times as
high as us. He was the one doing the dirty work for the SS inside the barbed wire.
Victor had an amiable character, which is why he had a great job as servant in the
SS canteen. After four years he rounded out his career as a camp elder. He had no
communication problems with his fellow prisoners, with every nationality he spoke
the same language, that of a bully. Especially during roll call. He did his job with
so much enthusiasm that he had to recuperate afterwards.
He was richly rewarded for his dedication. He had his own room and received as much
food as he could eat. Fellow prisoners shaved him and washed his luxurious hair.
Sometimes he was even allowed to leave the camp, to do some shopping for the SS.
It was a good way to get old in the camp.
Prisoners were not allowed to have animals, with the exception of lice, but apparently
Victor was above the law. At morning roll call he always appeared with a cat, which
he carried underneath his coat.. He was a bit incongruous, this freshly bathed cat
amidst all the dirt. The animal apparently got more to eat than we did, because he
In our hut there were three camp veterans we called the “lagerhasen” (camp rabbits).
They only took care of themselves and each other. One evening they suddenly got a
hold of Victor's cat. The animal was promptly skinned, roasted over a fire and devoured
by the threesome.
We got the bones, but for someone who has not tasted any meat for such a long time,
it was better than nothing. It did make us complicit, however. We could not imagine
what the punishment for such a crime might be. The threesome decided how the traces
of the misdeed had to be totally erased. With every trip to the latrine a bone or
a piece of fur disappeared into the deep hole.
The next day Victor appeared at roll call without his cat. He offered extra rations
to whomever could find his cat. In the days that followed the offer became increasingly
higher, of course without any results.
Victor searched all the barracks and promised dreadful torture. Finally, with a look
of suspicion in his eyes, he announced he knew who the guilty parties were. If they
would come forward voluntarily, all would be forgiven and forgotten. If that did
not happen immediately, the entire camp would suffer.
Nobody..... my conscience started hounding me. Maybe an innocent would be punished
for my complicity. I talked to the cat murderers about it. “Should we let it get
that far?”, I asked them. The man had three terrible years in the camp behind him
and he knew things that newbies did not know. Like, if a Kapo or an SS-er says he
knows who did it, it was pure bluff. It is a sure thing he has no idea who the guilty
That's where it remained. There were no mass punishments and the horrible existence
in Kaufering went on for another six months, before the liberation.
I have never heard anything from my fellow prisoners. I did hear from Victor. He
returned to the city of his birth, Vienna, where he had a pleasant life and grew
to a ripe old age amidst his family. No one ever called on him to justify his deeds.
I have no hard feelings. After all, I tasted his cat and that was the most delicious
thing that happened to me in those dark years.
Contributed by ex-Dachau prisoner Joseph Hausner, who now lives in Chicago.