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< Echoes of Memory

Mini Sabotage

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By Agi Geva

February 1945 found me, Agi Laszlo (Geva), age 14, at a huge airplane spare parts factory in Calw, Germany, which was not far from Stuttgart. Together with my mother, Rosalia, and my sister, Shosha, I was transported from Auschwitz three months earlier in a group of 200 women, 180 of whom were Hungarian and 20 were Polish. As far as I knew, the war was still raging as I had not heard nor seen any signs of change.

Prior to our arrival in Calw, we spent a few weeks in a training camp in Rochlitz, near Leipzig, where we learned to perform work on a Revolver-Drehbank machine making airplane spare parts. It was a big change to be in a factory, where we were seated at tables. When I was given a pencil, I felt human once again, as I treasured it more than if I had received a slice of bread.

When we arrived at Calw, we were disappointed to work 12-hour night shifts. I stood with aching legs, in improperly fitted shoes, working from 7 in the evening to 7 in the morning. I found it barely possible to remain awake at the wee hours of the mornings, as I heard the monotonous murmur of the machines in the factory. The guards were watching us closely at all times. As I look back, that was the hardest period for me so far.

The factory received raw aluminum materials for the spare parts, and the materials were distributed to the appropriate machines for making a variety of screws and other airplane parts. The finished screws were packed in crates to be sent to the German warplanes.

I was given a design plan and a piece of aluminum. I was to place the aluminum into one side of the Revolver-Drehbank machine, which I had to adjust according to the plan, and a completed screw was released from the other side.

My sister worked with a device that controlled the size of the screws. Her job was to divide the finished screws by size, and when one was too large, it was removed and sent to the filing machine that then trimmed it down to size. The filing machine had a huge revolving stone that rotated and had water streaming down to cool and lubricate it. My mother worked at that machine, filing the oversized screws down to the correct size. 

One day as I was working there was a big explosion. I heard rumors that my mother had fainted and that she was being attended to. I was not allowed to leave my post. After my shift ended, I saw my mother. She told me how frightened she had become after the large stone exploded, causing her to faint. The engineers explained to her how fragile the stone was and how difficult and time consuming it had been to order a new stone. Work came to a standstill until the new stone arrived and was installed.

Soon after work resumed, we again heard a loud explosion, and again my mother fainted. Again, she was told not to press the screw so hard against the stone. She acted as though she did not understand the instruction. This scene repeated itself again and again, as she concluded that these incidents delayed the manufacturing and delivery of screws that were needed by the Germans. She thought that her efforts might delay the process until the end of the war.

My sister and I did not find out until after the war that our mother’s action at Calw had been intentional. It was then that our mother told us the truth about the risk she took, calling the incident “Mini Sabotage.”

Tags:   agi gevaechoes of memory, volume 13

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