"I have to write about it"


Sydney Jewish Museum

Sydney Jewish Museum
Darlinghurst, Australia

Diaries written by Rabbi Dr Andrew Kämpfner (Andor Kämpfner) immediately after the war. They record his experiences during the Holocaust to "lay his ghosts", according to the donor Avril Symon, who was his wife.

In the introduction, he writes: “I have to write about it. People not there wouldn’t believe me and those who were there didn’t want to talk about it. What I am trying to do now is almost impossible. Because for a stranger it is impossible to form even an approximate idea what it was like in reality in a German lager (camp)...And still I have to write about it. I have to, because the world has to know once, how terrible, degrading, evil, mean can a human be”.

Dr Andor Kämpfner was born in 1918 in Ersekujvar, Hungary. His father died of natural causes on the day the Germans occupied Hungary, 19 March 1944. Soon after, together with his mother and sisters, Andor was forced to move into the ghetto. When the ghetto was liquidated, inmates were herded into wagons to Auschwitz. His mother was gassed within hours of arriving and only one sister survived the camp. In Auschwitz, Andor worked at first in the Bathhouse and then at Monowitz. In January, he was sent on the ‘death march’ to Buchenwald. He was deathly ill in the hospital at Buchenwald when the American Army liberated the camp.

The first of the notebooks in this collection contains Andor’s testimony up until approximately August 1944. One half of the second notebook continues the story in mid-January 1945 on the death march and ends with the liberation of the camp. The other half of the notebook contains speeches for the Zionist movement in Hungarian, Slovak and Hebrew, his thoughts about the Jewish fate, some poetry and, likely, some sermons.

There must have been a third notebook chronicling what happened between September 1944 and the death march. It must have been destroyed just as the other book suffered partial water damage, when his effects were shipped from Israel to London.


  • Title: "I have to write about it"
  • Date Created: 1945/1945
  • Type: journals
  • Rights: Sydney Jewish Museum
  • Medium: paper

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