In Auschwitz, David Groenteman, as an eighteen-year-old boy, had to carry away corpses, bury them and scoop coal for twelve hours in the bitter cold. After the war he fled from the painful memories. In Australia he built a new life. But he learned that the aftermath of the war not only had a major impact on him, but also on his sons.

David Groenteman Source NOS

David Groenteman (98 in 2022) loves the pleasant temperature in Sydney, the relaxed atmosphere, the sports culture. The warm, sunny summers and mild winters. For more than seventy years he has lived with pleasure in Australia. He currently lives in Queensland.

After the war he fled there. Australia was furthest away from the misery he had endured. 77 years ago, the concentration camp he was in was liberated and after a long journey he returned to Amsterdam, the city where he was happy before the war. He arrived with a bald head, weighed only 36 kilos and had a bag full of traumas.

After the Germans invaded, David joined the resistance. However he and his friends were betrayed. He was sentenced to death. Miraculously he survived.  It wasn’t until after the war that he found out that his sentence had been commuted to 15 years in prison. “One of the boys’ fathers, a wealthy businessman, had bribed a German general.” While he was not murdered, he went through various camps he ended up in Auschwitz. He was lucky to have a strong body from years of ice hockey, football and skating. Twelve hours a day he had to scoop coal. If you stopped, they shot you.

Of all the concentration and extermination camps, most people were murdered in Auschwitz. Of the 140,000 Jews who lived in the Netherlands in 1940, 102,000 did not survive the war.

Read the RTL Nieuws article in Dutch

Also read David’s story in ‘Survivors’ Stories from the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Foundation

Channel 7 interview