Rudolf Friemel was allowed to develop his hair out for the marriage. He borrowed a go well with, tie, and footwear from the dreaded Nazi SS (Schutzstaffel) squadron. His father and brother arrived by prepare from Vienna together with the bride, Margarita Ferrer, who was allowed to enter Auschwitz with their three-year-old son, Édouard. A Polish prisoner took photographs on the ceremony, which was adopted by a small banquet. The newlyweds spent their marriage ceremony evening within the camp’s brothel, a cell in Barracks 24. The subsequent day they mentioned goodbye, and Margarita returned with the household to Vienna. Rudolf stayed behind as prisoner 25173 – they by no means noticed one another once more.
Their lives have been the stuff of films – a battle film with a tragic ending. Rudolf Friemel and Margarita Ferrer met in the course of the Spanish Civil Battle on the Ebro entrance in northeast Spain. Friemel had joined the Worldwide Brigades to battle in opposition to the fascist forces led by Francisco Franco. Ferrer was a part of a bunch of anti-fascist girls who got here to cheer up the troopers within the trenches when the combating abated. He was from Vienna – a handsome, charismatic man with actor Robert Mitchum’s cleft chin. An auto mechanic, Friemel had been implicated within the homicide of a police inspector in the course of the February 1934 Austrian Rebellion in opposition to the fascists. She was a dark-eyed Spaniard who labored as a secretary in Barcelona. When Franco’s troops entered the town, she fled on foot together with her sister throughout the Pyrenees mountain vary, solely to finish up in a focus camp in France.
The Saint-Cyprien camp had been set as much as accommodate refugees from the Spanish Civil Battle, however was later utilized by the Nazis for Jews and different prisoners. A strip of fenced-in land alongside the Mediterranean sea, there was no shelter for the refugees and no ingesting water. Margarita and the opposite refugees struggled to outlive on the sandy seaside. Unbeknownst to Margarita, Rudolf arrived quickly after at Saint-Cyprien as a prisoner. Earlier than he was deported to Auschwitz in December 1941, Rudolf and Margarita discovered one another once more and conceived their son, Édouard.
Édouard’s son is now 48 years previous, a tall redhead who works as an engineer in Marseille (France) and bears his grandfather’s title. Rodolphe Friemel lately donated authentic household papers in regards to the Auschwitz marriage ceremony to the Municipal and Provincial Archives of Vienna (Austria). They are going to be on exhibit on the Vienna Metropolis Library till September 30. Rodolphe speaks good Spanish, however he didn’t be taught it from his grandmother, Margarita. He was taught by her second husband, Paco Suárez, a Spanish Republican who survived the Nazi focus camp in Mauthausen (Higher Austria). For years after his launch from the camp, Suárez drank his espresso from a can as a result of cups have been a luxurious.
“I by no means talked with Marga about her marriage ceremony in Auschwitz as a result of Paco couldn’t stand it – he was jealous,” mentioned Rodolphe, as he stood subsequent to the show instances of photographs, letters, marriage ceremony playing cards from different privileged Auschwitz prisoners, and official paperwork from his grandparents’ marriage ceremony. “My father lastly began speaking about all of it towards the top of his life. It was traumatic for him, so he at all times refused to debate it. One evening I mentioned to him, ‘Dad, I can’t stand the considered you dying, and I would like to speak to you about your childhood.’ I feel he thought he owed it to his son. He died a 12 months later.”
The exhibit catalog consists of data from Erich Hackl, creator of The Marriage ceremony in Auschwitz, an in depth oral historical past pieced collectively by Hackl from interviews with eyewitnesses and survivors. In Krakow (Poland), Hackl met the marriage photographer – a Pole named Wilhelm Brasse who was despatched to Auschwitz in August 1940 for refusing to enlist within the Nazi armed forces. “Brasse had photographed Dr. Mengele’s experiments, horrible photos such because the Siamese twins sewn collectively back-to-back. He took 1000’s of photographs for the camp’s identification service, a job that saved his life. He remembered the photographs of the bride and groom as the one joyful second in Auschwitz,” mentioned Hackl. The marriage portraits are on show within the exhibition. “To my trustworthy and courageous spouse on her large day. Your Rudi. Auschwitz, 18-III-44,” is written in Spanish on the again of 1 picture.
Rudolf Friemel had initiated a bureaucratic battle with German establishments lengthy earlier than the marriage to have Édouard formally acknowledged as his son. Friemel was not a Jew, however a political prisoner who turned helpful to the SS due to his mechanical experience. As an Austrian, he was thought of a German citizen and was allowed to ship and obtain mail, amongst different privileges. His letters with stamps bearing Hitler’s face and the Auschwitz focus camp postmark are on show in Vienna.
The Nazi extermination machine at Auschwitz-Birkenau slaughtered greater than one million individuals with industrial effectivity. Just one marriage ceremony was held there within the 5 years that the camp operated. Some say that the marriage was a cynical gesture by the camp commandant, a device like Theresienstadt: A Documentary Movie from the Jewish Settlement Space, the Nazi propaganda movie that confirmed joyful and wholesome Jews resettled by the Germans within the enclave of Terezin (Czechia). “It [the wedding] coincided with the appointment of a brand new commandant named Liebehenschel who tried to tone down the horror. He was the one who allowed [the wedding],” mentioned Hackl. “However there isn’t any clear-cut rationalization [for allowing the wedding]. Life and loss of life choices have been arbitrary. As one survivor advised me, 999 prisoners can be crushed to loss of life whereas a thousand others have been spared. There’s no level in looking for the explanations behind each authorization, each emergency decree.” The extermination continued below Liebehenschel’s command, and the marriage passed off one spring morning in Auschwitz whereas smoke from the crimson brick chimney coated the camp with the stench of burning flesh.
Friemel’s fellow prisoners felt euphoric in regards to the marriage ceremony, a fleeting return to former freedoms that emboldened them to plot an escape plan. When the plot was found, Friemel was hanged in the identical shirt he wore on the marriage ceremony, barely a month earlier than the camp was liberated by the Soviet military. As Friemel awaited the gallows, a sympathetic SS trooper helped him ship plenty of love letters to Marga which can be on exhibit in Vienna.
The Friemel household’s struggling by the hands of the Nazis didn’t finish with Rudolf’s imprisonment and execution. Rodolphe’s maternal grandfather was executed in Paris in the course of the German occupation after the Gestapo found that he was printing tutorial materials for the French Resistance. “I additionally stored this materials and took it to France’s nationwide archives,” mentioned Rodolphe Friemel, “however they didn’t settle for it. They don’t have the assets and time to document all of it. It’s a pity.”