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Outwitting Hitler -

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(generated from captions) is a Holocaust survivor. Marian Pretzel and took my parents away. The Germans and Ukrainians came

He's haunted by troubling questions. so I could survive? Did my parents have to die the right papers At a time when having between life and death... meant the difference with him, he could be shot. Without the identity documents

made you an endangered species... At a time when your faith It was a carnage - unimaginable. was at war... a time when the entire world was death in the air. It was terrible. It for everybody. Not only for the Jews - to forge Nazi documents... ..he used his skill as an artist I found the key to survival. sleeping with the enemy. ..and found himself were the safest. The places that I should fear most The lion's den. DRAMATIC, STERN MUSIC


For more than a half-century, in his adopted country of Australia. Marian Pretzel has lived a full life

his wife Yvonne, He married a local Aussie girl,

Steven and Shari, and raised two children,

now grown with children of their own.

Marian Pretzel is a renowned artist and museums all across Australia. whose works can be found in galleries of three books, He is an acclaimed author 'Portrait of a Young Forger', including his autobiography, and others from the Holocaust which tells of how he saved himself by forging Nazi documents. during the war, Many people forged documents as Marian Pretzel. but few were as audacious with Nazi soldiers, He rode troop trains and even slept in their barracks. ate their food official documentation against them, By using their own obsession with to triumph over the Nazis. Marian was able LIGHT ORCHESTRAL MUSIC took him on an incredible journey. Marian Pretzel's life the third-largest city in Poland, He was born in 1922 in Lvov, with his parents and older sister. and grew up in a modest apartment in Poland for many years, The Pretzel family lived a good life unaware of the gathering storm. LIGHT MUSIC CONTINUES My father was a big man. in his youth, He was an amateur wrestler he was very keen sportsman. And I must say that I can't imagine any boy with so much encouragement to have a father as I did from mine. My mother was an opulent woman, full of love and affection, you know, overprotective. and, as most of those Yiddish mama, Like normal parents, tried to shelter their children the Pretzels to the Jews of Germany. from what was happening

that my parents wanted to discuss, If there was something to understand, but didn't want me or my sister they spoke in Yiddish, very little understand. which I could when Marian was 17, But by the summer of 1939, that war with Germany was inevitable. everyone in Poland knew CANNON BOOMS EXPLOSIONS CONTINUE, EERIE MUSIC On September 1, 1939, and started the Second World War. Adolf Hitler invaded Poland ENGINE DRONES, MACHINE GUN FIRE was obliterated on the first day Poland's air force and its armies were soon overwhelmed. to the Polish radio. We kept on listening

was fighting the German Panzers, The cavalry the huge German tanks. Admittedly, they were very brave. But there's nowhere you can go on the horseback, you know, with a lance and fight the tanks. of what was happening in Germany. At that time, we all were aware And not only this. what will happen in Poland. We were worried Because it's obvious was by Poles, that the third of the population were Ukrainians. another third of population None of them really loved Jews. On September 17,

attacked Poland from the east. the Soviet Union the Polish Army was defeated By the end of the month, able to split the country in half. and the Russians and Germans were TENSE MUSIC were given a reprieve, The Jews of eastern Poland to a 10-year nonaggression pact thanks in part signed by Hitler and Stalin. on borrowed time. But they were living On June 22, 1941, the invasion of Russia. Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa, DRAMATIC MUSIC up at about 4:00 in the morning, Friday morning, when we were woken there's a bomb exploding all around. not around where we lived, Actually, it was but where the airport was. and looked out of the balcony, We all got out of bed to see what's going on. trying to find... because it was night. Actually, we couldn't We are in another war." And my father said, "That's it. And then we really got scared. who also grew up in Lvov, Janek Fuchs, sent his armies against Russia. was 17 years old when Hitler of a successful travel agency Today, he's the owner who lives in Haifa, Israel. he teamed up with Marian Pretzel During the war, live through the nightmare years. and they helped each other Like all those who survived, with startling clarity. Janek remembers those fateful days and they went in. I remember I was in the street They looked lovely. and...and handsome guys. They were singing and a way, I admired them. And I looked at them "Look - what an army!" very quickly - after two days. And then the reality came were very traumatic, The first few days

were given a free hand because the Ukrainians as far as the Jews were concerned. DRAMATIC MUSIC of political prisoners there. They made a lot

When the Russians left, put all the prisoner on fire. they closed the doors and they of course, they blame the Jews - And when the German entered, had been killed in that prison. that all the ones

The Ukrainian imposed a free hand. And they gave... that they could on the street. And they started to catch every Jew had to run through the rows. They made two rows and the Jews And they beat them to death. I think at that time people who had been beaten to death. there were about 10,000 or 15,000 That was the first terrible reality that I faced. I walked in the street, I wasn't looking what you can call or say Jewish. And I was walking on the streets and I just could realise what was practically going on here. And that was the beginning.

The beginning of the end. The Ukrainians collected about 7,000 or 8,000 Jewish men from our area where we lived. And they took them to the prison, to take all the bodies and bury them. And then they all were shot afterwards. The Holocaust had begun for the Jews of Lvov, Poland. Under Nazi occupation, they were stripped of all rights to citizenship. On July 6, 1941, an order came down that all Jews had to wear the Star of David on their clothes. Failure to do so would result in arrest. Then they were forced to move into a fenced-in section of the city that was patrolled by German and Ukrainian guards - the ghetto. The new General Government encouraged anti-Semitic acts of violence and terror. And the one most very disappointing thing was the way they behaved, especially the Ukrainians. The way they behaved against some friends, people that they might have grown up together, went to school together - you know, that didn't mean anything to them. He was a Jew, so he has to be kicked.

And...or murdered. Didn't really matter what. And that's why in a way I blame more the Ukrainians than the Germans. Because their building had been damaged during the bombing, the Pretzel family was temporarily allowed to stay in their apartment. However, they were not spared from the cruelty that was now taking place all over the city. I came home one day and I could...met my sister on the street, crying, just running away. I said, "What happened?"

She said, "The Germans came and they took all the furniture away." So I came in there. And I could see my father, who was something like six foot two, six foot three, crying like a little child. All the work that he put into the buildings at home, buildings that was beautiful, things from the shop, the selected things and where the grand piano for my sister, and the antique bedroom furniture and carpets and all. All these sort of things - that the whole thing disappear within less than half an hour. Actually, at that point, I promised myself that I never collect anything. But as you can see, I couldn't keep the promise. Because of an edict that made all Jews slave labourers, Marian was forced to live and work on a farm outside the city. When he was finally allowed to return home, he found that his life had been forever changed. We all...were really...scared to go home - to what we would find there, because we all had families when we left. Would we have this family when we get back? And I ran up to the third floor and come to the door and start banging at the door. And there was no answer. But when I start banging harder, the door next to ours on the left side - that was a Polish family lived there - and the two boys, two brothers, they opened the door and... And they gave me the news that about nine days ago, the Germans and Ukrainians came and took my parents away.

Marian's parents had been taken away as part of a round-up of Jews living outside the ghetto. He never saw them again. Although he had lost everything, all was not lost. Marian went to stay with his sister Gisa and her husband Karel in the Lvov ghetto. While there, he was contacted by the black market to see if he could use his skill as an artist to forge Nazi documents.

His tools were an odd collection of common items, none of which would arouse suspicion. The instruments needed for it were so inconspicuous, you could hide them so one piece in one pocket, another in another pocket. Marian agreed to show us his unique process for falsifying identity papers.

Naturally, the document had to look authentic. But the real key was reproducing a finely detailed stamp. It was the first time he had forged a Nazi document since the war. You see that there's a document with the... where we change the photograph. And now we have to add a bit of a stamp, to match the stamp which was originally underneath. So I made a tracing of it.

And now I'm just checking exactly the position of it. And I mark it, where it goes. And transferring this on a... ..a back of an old photograph. And so what I did to find the centre of the circle...

..I take a slightly bigger area than the circle. And I take it from each side. And I get a little...a harder pencil and I transfer it. Just draw it from the back. Just transfer the lettering... ..and the design... ..onto the photograph. So that's about it. It's a matter now of inking... ..the eagle and the lettering. Now, I'm using the stamp ink, which is the only ink that would work in this respect. Because it's very slow-drying, so you can make... Once I've made the drawing, I can make up to five or six impressions from it. And that was one of the big advantages of this type of forgery - that making one out, I could make five documents. Yeah, I am surprising myself that I can still do it. The last time I did it, it was in '44. More than 55 years ago. It's such a fine, fine work that unless you're an experienced... ..graphic artist... would be pretty impossible do it. Mind you, even now, after all those years, I still could do this German eagle almost blindfolded. To the final circle. The newspaper, it takes the excess of the ink. Just put it like that. Gently take it off. Because otherwise, if you... if contact makes...

See, if you tried to make an impression, it would spread around.

(Mutters) Should fit. And then, with a comb...

..gently rub it. The German were brought up with accepting the authority without questioning it. And a stamp was part of this authority. And for us, that was very important -

to find out how to utilise the knowledge that we had of the mentality of the Germans. That's why a lot of Germans who might have been... ..might not have been... so keen of murdering Jews did it because that was the order. And that's what their excuse after the war - "That's what I was ordered, and that's what I had to do." Marian forged birth certificates, identity papers, travel visas and food ration cards. He even went into a Nazi bank in Odessa with forged papers and exchanged occupation currency for German marks. For more background on the Nazi mentality, we went to St Cloud, Minnesota, to talk with Jeffrey Young, co-author of 'German Third Reich Era Documents'. Mr Young, who has a large number of Nazi documents in his personal collection, is a recognised authority on the role documentation played in the Third Reich. It seemed like everything was recorded.

The reason they could find out after the war how many Jews were killed in the war

was because the Germans kept meticulous records of it. They thought they were going to win the war. If you were going to go out and murder somebody, you wouldn't keep track of it, would you? But the Germans kept records. And it's the same thing even with their own population. And the occupied countries - they needed to know who these people were and they just... Without the identity, you could be shot. They even shot their own soldiers if they didn't have correct identity documents with them. This was one of the standard documents issued by the Nazis to persons that were actually of Polish descent. The Germans did not call it Poland.

They called it the General Government. It's a trifold cardboard and, again, you can see that the photo is actually riveted. It's overstamped by the issuing authority. And it lists his name, where he was born, his date of birth, what his job was, and has all the countersigns by the local Nazi authorities. Another example would be where they just take plain cardboard to make an identity document. And then - particularly this one - it says 'Dienstausweis', which is just 'Service Identity'. You open it up, and everything is just typed in it. There's, you know, nothing that would indicate that this is official except the stamps. And the stamps are overlying the picture and by the original signature of the person that issued it. As you can see, this would also be easily forged. This would be a good example where just having a rubber stamp could make the difference of being able to do documents. Because this one just says 'Notary', meaning that this man's job - that he was a notary public -

and this Polish woman worked for him. And that's all there is. I mean, if you could get a rubber stamp that said 'Burgermeister', or 'Mayor', of a particular town, you could issue documents for anything, because you're the main man and it's coming from your office. And nobody's going to look. Unless it's maybe a police officer that knows the mayor's signature, nobody's going to look at the signature. They're just going to go, "Oh, OK", because it's got that official stamp. And this was a member of the film association, the Nazi film association. If you wanted to be a cameraman or you wanted to be an actor in a movie, you had to belong. And you paid dues. And the dues, of course, all trickled down into the Nazi Party.

The Nazis often went to absurd lengths in their effort to permeate every aspect of German society. I've got a membership document for a man that belonged to a... I have it right here. He actually belonged to an association for singing birds. He kept singing birds, which we think of canaries or something like that. And he actually had to belong to a Nazi association to keep these birds. And I don't think you can get much more picky than that. It...the inside is pretty much just with the name, and the rest is all the rules of the association. And as you can see, they had plenty of rules. It's about eight...uh, 18 pages and 12 of that are rules.

There are certain Third Reich documents that Jeffrey Young does not collect. There's a lot of documents on the market right now dealing with the Holocaust. In other words, identity documents for Jewish people that probably died in the camps because they had to register with the Germans. They paid the Germans to have themselves registered, were given identity documents.

And I'm sure many of them perished in those concentration camps during the war.

I feel know, shouldn't really be marketed. And if I had one, that particular, I'd probably donate it to the Holocaust Museum. I've seen them. They are expensive because of their rarity. Because I'm sure once they went to the camps, they were destroyed. And... But I think that's a little bit morbid. Marian spent countless hours forging documents for his fellow Jews. Sadly, few of those documents were ever used. Unfortunately, I'm quite sure that at least 80% to 90% of the papers that I made were burned together with their owners. Because people could never...

The optimism they had, the unjustified optimism that they had, was that "The things are not so bad". There were always rumours. Or "They need me."

"Hitler can't win the war unless I work for him." You know, this type of thing. "I have a good job. I'm quite safe." And that was the trouble, unfortunately. The others were like this friend of mine, Milek, who would have loved to escape and to go. He couldn't

because he had this elderly parents and a younger sister. He couldn't leave them. You see, those are the things that people don't realise - that a lot of people have done nothing at all to escape, to escape or to save their lives, because they were - it's a cruel word to use - but they were handicapped by having families. And that's why... One thing, you see, that almost always brings tears to my eyes when I realise that there's one question that arises - the fact that did my parents have to die so I could survive? Because if my parents weren't taken away at the time they did, I wouldn't have left it. I would have stayed with them. And most probably finished the same way as they did. And it is a very tragic, tragic thought, you know, which occurred to me only about three or four years ago. I never thought about it.

In a way, I feel that I wish I didn't.

For Janek Fuchs, who also lost his family to the Holocaust, coming to terms with man's inhumanity is almost beyond comprehension.

Anybody who has been in a concentration camp or sees films about concentration camps or goes to concentration camp museums - a human mind just can't absorb that. You can't absorb it.

You just can't absorb it because it's so dramatic, it's so unbelievable, what human beings can do to human beings. You go on the street where you hit a cat or a dog with the car, you can't sleep for two days after that. Unintentionally, you do that. And here they go and systematically... They make...they make soap out of people. They make lamps out of people's skin. They beat people to death, they hanged them, they gassed them, they tortured them. And you just can't understand how a human being can do that. And it's not a...a single... a moment of anger or a moment of madness.

This is the systematical murders of five years. It's... Yeah.

Do you still have nightmares? No, I don't have nightmares. I did... In my elder years, I dream about my parents sometimes. And I have guilt complexes. (Inhales sharply) Why do you have a guilt complex?

I don't know. Maybe I shouldn't go away when I left my father... ..when they caught him. I don't know. But what difference would it have made to them? They would get ME, I suppose. But still, you can't help yourself. In the fall of 1942, as he was preparing to leave the ghetto, Marian suddenly found himself being sent to a concentration camp. And it was early in the morning

and I was face-to-face with the SS man, with a pistol in his hand. The ghetto was fenced in with about three-metre-tall fences. I'd say about 10 feet. And people were pushed by the Germans and Ukrainians to push, to right straight against the fence. I mean, there were thousands and thousands of people - small children and the women and... ..and young people and old people. And because they were pushing, you know, it was a matter of trying to stay on your feet because if you lose your footing, and you fell down, your feet is like a pulp. So I kept telling myself, "Try to stay on your feet, and think - think what you can do."

And I was... I remember I... was very grateful, you know, for the fact that I was almost six foot tall and I could keep my head above and I could see what was going on. But when I saw around me, it was...unex...

Anybody who dropped on the ground, you know, was either shot or had a bayonet stuck into them. Little children thrown against the wall, brick walls, the...the... At one point, they started separating men and women. And some of the couple wouldn't get separated, so they both were shot on the spot. It was a carnage - unimaginable.

While inside the Janowska concentration camp, Marian witnessed men being capriciously murdered by their Ukrainian and German guards. At the end of the war, just 500 Jews had survived the Janowska labour camp and Lvov ghetto. 200,000 had not. Marian asked a Jewish labourer who worked at the camp if he would help him escape. The man's name was Simon. He said, "What's the point of getting out? "Without documents, without money, where would you go? "You'll be picked up as soon as you walk on the street." I said, "Oh, don't worry about that. I have money. I have documents. "I have even a place where I could go." He said, "Oh, that's good." And I told him because I left it with a friend of mine. He said, "When you get your documents and your money back, "tell me and I'll find a way to get you out."

Simon snuck Marian into a barn on the outskirts of the concentration camp. He introduced me to two Jewish guys who worked there and they agreed to move

the two planks of the timber opening into the street so I could slide in. It was dark by then and it was raining, very misty.

And, er... ..I just shook the hand to the man who organised the whole thing for me - this architect - and thanked him for it, of course. And he said, "Look, we'll make them pay for it. "By God, we'll make them pay." Now, this man was Simon Wiesenthal. I don't have to say any more. Everybody knows that he dedicated his whole life to hunt the Nazi murderers. Marian returned to his sister's flat in the ghetto, determined now more than ever to use his skill as a forger to get out of Poland. He created Aryan papers for himself assuming the name Marian Smolinski, slipped out of the ghetto and went to apply for a job as a Nazi factory worker. I'm Marian Smolinski and that's it. And that would have been the first time that I would have to do it. But for everything, there's always a first time. Marian's forged papers were accepted without question and he was offered a position in Kiev, Russia, which was under Nazi control at the time. Marian's perilous journey to the Russian city - posing as a German factory worker - began at the Lvov train station. Going to the railway station, that was the most dangerous place in the war because there were - what we call them - headhunters. There were hooligans walking around and looking for Jews trying to escape.

And unfortunately, they had such an uncanny ability to almost to smell the Jews from 100 yards. After making it safely to Kiev, Marian came to the realisation that the Nazis could be easily fooled. He decided to return to the ghetto to save as many people as possible. Marian discovered he could use his German factory worker ruse

for more than just travel papers.

I got off at one of the stations and I could see some Russians walking out of the German army canteen... ..and carrying some parcels. So I walk up to them and I said, "Look, how come you're allowed to the German army canteens?" They said, "Oh, we're working for the German army, "and we get a document "which entitles us to the food while we travel." I said, "Oh, that's strange. "I work for the German company as well, "but they didn't give me the document." And I said, "What does it look like?" So he opens the document and show it to me. All they did have, an additional stamp to this, like my leave pass, it was army stamps with the eagle on it, and that would entitle them to get the food supplies. So once I knew that, I walked into the canteen and I said, "Look, I'm travelling, I'm working for the German company "and so I need some food." They said, "Oh, no, you're not entitled to it." I said, "How come I'm not entitled?" He said, "Obviously, you haven't got the stamp from the Wehrmacht "that you're working for them." I said, "Look, that's a German company. "Obviously they wouldn't send me travelling for 2.5 days "without any food." Anyhow, I knew that was the argument that I had to win. Marian won the argument, and was given food and accommodations by the Third Reich. When I got there, I had a lovely dinner and I'm lying in a warm bed, my mind at peace - at peace with the whole world - just lying there enjoying myself, and protected by a number of German soldiers, and suddenly a thought occurred to me. I found the key to survival. I knew what documents I needed to travel, I knew how to get the food supply while I'm travelling, I even know how to get accommodation in the army barracks. Janek Fuchs was on the run from the Gestapo when he met up with Marian in Nazi-occupied Russia. I met Marian Pretzel in Kiev. I arrived in Kiev after the ghetto and the camp. Janek had attended the Jewish high school in Poland and was fluent in Russian, German, Polish and Ukrainian. His skill as a linguist made him a valuable partner to Marian Pretzel. Janek had overheard Marian speaking Polish in the Kiev market

and followed him back to his apartment. To make sure he wasn't from the Gestapo, Marian asked him if he knew how to speak a fifth language. "Do you speak Hebrew?" And that was the obvious question to ask, going to the Jewish high school. He said, "Ken, ani medaber ivrit." It means "Yes, I speak Hebrew". So that put us at ease. It was the beginning of a lifelong friendship. Soon, Marian and Janek, two Jews from Poland, found themselves sleeping with the enemy. I slept in many times in Frommtagstelle, in Soldatenheims. I slept among SS men there.

You don't have in these situations... The hatred is away from you. You have one aim - to survive. The places that I should fear most were the safest. The lion's den. Because you can't imagine... Or can you imagine anybody who would suspect a young Polish labourer asking for food or asking for accommodation overnight to be an escapee from the concentration camp? And I tell you something else, when I went at night sometimes on train, and there had been sitting elderly German soldiers - the Wehrmacht, yes, not the SS - and elderly, I say, at that time in my eyes, they were maybe in their 40s, but I was 18 or something, so they used to sit there and to me they'd be very nice. Why? Because I looked like a child, a very young boy. They asked me, "What are you doing in the army?" I said, "I am a Freiwilliger. I am a volunteer." And they offered me food and everything, as a German to German, of course.

Marian made it back to the ghetto

to find his sister in a terrible state. Unaware Hitler's 'Final Solution' called for the extermination of the entire Jewish race,

few wanted to take the risk of leaving the presumed safety of the ghetto to travel on forged papers. I went to wait on the street corners, knocked at the doors, pleading with them. I made a briefcase full of documents. All they needed was their photograph and to put a stamp on it. And it was so disappointing and so heartbreaking.

I didn't expect to have to plead with my friends to save their lives. I said, "Look, I was there. I was in Kiev. I'm going back." "What more guarantee... "How much more guarantee you want that you survive? "You see, you just have to take the chance." Marian's sister, Gisa, was among those who perished in the ghetto. Her husband had been taken away to a concentration camp and she stayed, hoping for his return. Four of Marian's friends from the ghetto decided to risk it and travel to Kiev with forged papers. Each eventually went their own way. But Marian and Janek stayed together. I knew that there are people trying, Jews trying with Aryan papers to run away, because still some survived. I'm not the only survivor. Some tried - I was not the only one that tried to do it. Most of them had been caught. Most of them that tried had been caught. Caught and tortured and killed. But the fact is that some of them have survived - one on that way, the other on another way. I think that Marian's way and my way was a different one

because we had been leading our destiny. We had been, er, um, how shall I put it... ..the destiny wasn't holding us, we had been holding the destiny. We were controlling it. We knew what we are doing. I mean, there was a danger. We knew for every day we lived and we survived was a gift from God. It today I always say that I live about 54 years of credit.

I should be many years ago dead. As the tide turned against the Germans on the eastern front, authorities had little time to scrutinise papers. There were hundreds of thousands of soldiers travelling backwards and forwards and then other thousands of German officials. So it was easy to travel there because there was no time for the officials to check documents thoroughly. And for the Germans especially, if you had the right paper, more they didn't check then you, and you had the right face, I mean... ..that you had been stopped and you haven't been scared. You could move practically to any part of Europe or Africa, or wherever the German occupation was, practically, we could move. They became bolder and started taking extraordinary risks. Janek even spoke to a German officer about acquiring uniforms. I said to the German, "Look, we are working for a German firm, "and we are allowed to wear German uniforms. "Can you arrange us? "And we are ready to give you a bottle of vodka or poncz, "whatever it will be... "And we... " our unit, the firm, they don't have the uniforms." He says "Alright, I'll check on it and I'll let you know." And he brought us the uniforms. Now, that made a lot of difference to us because till now we were worried to walk around the streets in civilian clothes because it attracted attention.

And especially those - as I said before - those headhunters were walking down the streets looking for the Jews which they knew there's a number of them in Kiev to blackmail them or even denounce them after they collect the money. That was a particular sport that they exercised because after collecting all the blackmail money they could get or money or jewellery or whatever valuable that the unfortunate person had,

then they send them over to the Gestapo. And the Gestapo gave them for every Jew denounced 100 zloty and a bottle of vodka. 100 zlotys would be equivalent to now about $15 to $20. So not only did they blackmail the people, but then they denounced them on top of it to collect the bottle of vodka and the 100 zloty.

But by wearing the uniform, we didn't attract the attention. And we were even able, you know, to meet some girls. I was a young boy at the time - 18 or something - and I looked very nice and very handsome in the uniform. I went into a Deutsches Eck, a German place, and I was sitting and a German woman, a soldier - a German soldier woman - and she put an eye on me. She liked me. And I went to her to her hotel and I slept with her, and I had a tremendous feeling of satisfaction. I'm not talking about the physical satisfaction, I'm talking about the psychological satisfaction. Here I am, a Jewish boy and I'm fucking a German soldier woman.

And I was very, very happy with myself. But their precarious life in Kiev quickly came to an end. As the time passed by, we find out that every day, practically, there was some rumours going that either some Jews were caught or some partisans in the city were arrested. Some tried to escape and were shot on the street. So it's at that time we were scared, there were too many Jews around. And the more there were, the more dangerous it was for everybody. Because once those headhunters knew about it, they could say, "He looks a Jew. He looks a Jew." They would grab at anybody - any possibility to blackmail or to denounce. By the end of 1943, the Soviets had the Nazis on the run. Marian and Janek made their way to Bucharest, Romania, and found a world they thought no longer existed. For me, Bucharest was like arriving to paradise because you have to realise at that time, the steppes of Russia, the cities of Russia, especially after the winter, it was wasted, everything. It was terrible. There was death in the air, not only for the Jews, for everybody. It was hell out there. And here you come to a country, when the train moves into Bucharest, that you have farmers are coming, peasants are coming to the windows of the train with chickens and with white bread which we haven't seen for years. It was unbelievable. The way you look at the people walking around the streets - the young girl in the beautiful flower dresses, the men exceptionally well-dressed, everybody happy and gay. You have shops with signs - Moscovici, Haimovici - typically Jewish names. And for me, I just thought, "It can't be that there's still Jews existing here." Janek even mentioned that it was indecent that they lived like that. I said, "That's not indecent, it was what we left behind."

Two desperate parents persuaded Marian and Janek to travel back into Nazi-occupied territory one last time

to rescue their daughter Helen from the Budapest ghetto. They succeeded. But why did they take such a risk? I don't know. You remember, you were the one who wanted to go? I said, "Don't be stupid." You said, "Come on. "Let's prove we can beat the bastards once more." Bastards. That's right. That's right. And I said, "That's crazy! Crazy!" Actually what did happen, what made me change my mind, you wanted to go, but when I had a look at the photograph of Helen, she looked so much like my sister. About the same age. Like Gisa, yes? You know, and the mother pleading. Yes. I said, "Oh, for goodness sake, "I couldn't save my sister, maybe I could save Helen." That's what really... We had been their only hope because she would never, never have come out

if we wouldn't go for her that time. Never. No. Because it started, the whole story with Eichmann. They took away the 400,000 Jews from Hungary. We only had three days before he was going to cross the ghetto. Exactly. But it was fun. Yes, you see, this is things and memories that you never... No-one can take it away. As long as you live you take them with you. I'm very glad we've both written about it. Adolf Hitler committed suicide on April 30, 1945. 50 million people died in the war he started, including six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust. Marian Pretzel and Janek Fuchs finally made it to freedom. In 1999, the two old friends reunited in Israel to socialise, philosophise, and reminisce. GENTLE MUSIC

When they first came to the Holy Land, it was under British control, and they had to stay in an internment camp for several weeks. Ironically, European Jews who had just survived the Holocaust now found themselves living in another concentration camp. Although it was not used for extermination purposes, it was identical in appearance to the Nazi camps. The Atlith quarantine camp has been perfectly preserved in Israel as a museum. MARIAN: The train stopped on the border, and we could see in front of us a big sign - 'Palestine'. JANEK: Yes. And although we weren't supposed to, the people jumped off the train and falling on the ground and start kissing it and crying. It was very emotional. There, you see the barbed wire? You see the... Yeah, that's a post. A post, yeah. They were on every corner in Janowska, they had it. So let's go first inside. Yes.

HAUNTING MUSIC You should know, by the way, the concentration camps had been the same system almost - the barbed wire, the double, electrified, the barracks, the guarded posts upstairs. The wires were electrified. Electrified, yeah. Now we approach the disinfection room. Right.

This is where you come in here. That's it. The door to the shower's here. Look, you come out in disinfected clothes. That's right. You go to the showers. That's the hot water tank. The showers here.

You used to go to the showers. That's right. Yes. The traumatic thing was when you had to throw all the clothes away,

they took it away from you. Then you had to wait until they bring disinfectant and they brought them back. See, Marian, that could be you or me. It could quite easily. Very easily. Very easy at that time. You can get emotional when you look through all this. Yes. It brings through the young years... After you came from the Holocaust... Bump! You came again in another camp.

In a way, that's where we were reborn. Go back to my original name. Yes. Throw away the false papers. It's a new beginning. Yeah, but still it was a lot of hope and a lot of experience.

Look, then we used to dance Horah here and we used to sing. That's right. Yes. It's very nicely done. Oh, yes. I show you at home when we come back, I have a certificate because I donated money here. Oh, yes. When they redid it. And a certificate that I was in the camp here. A number and everything. Have they got the records? I suppose they have the record. You'll be in the record there.

Of course there must be a record there. I presume there's a record of it. Marian Pretzel masqueraded as a German factory worker by using his skill as an artist to forge Nazi documents. Most of the Jews he made documents for were eventually arrested and executed by the Nazis.

Marian came to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem one last time to say a prayer for the friends and family he lost in the Holocaust. After my parents were taken away by the Nazis, I realised they would never have a proper grave, neither would my sister Gisa, or any of my many friends who didn't survive. I have done my best to honour their memory on occasions like this one and through the life I have led. Thank you very much for coming. It's really appreciated. I'm not young anymore, neither am I a forger. And if I were a forger, I would not admit it anyhow. You are almost the same age as I was when it started - when the war broke out, I was 17 years old. And so you can appreciate it better, you know, how it would feel to come home and your tennis racquet is gone, your parents are gone, your cricket bat is gone. You know, whatever you had, any toys, dolls, whatever - everything disappeared. And you find yourself on the street, on your own. And try to find out, "What do I do now? Where do I go from here?" Has anything that happened to you in the Holocaust made you doubt God or human nature? It's very hard to believe if you could see what I have seen - all the children and innocent people, innocent women or little children being grabbed by the feet and thrown against a brick wall, or thrown in the air and caught on the bayonet. If you watch things like that you can't help asking, "Now, where was God at that time?" Because innocent people, you know, for instance, I know my mother, for argument's sake, she was all her life it was the love and the affection for the family, her home and her family was her life. Now, why would she have to die that way? And at the same time came the same question to that - "What did I do right at the age of 20 that I survived?"

See, there's no rhyme or reason to this. I felt that if God was willing to help me fight, I was willing to give him my hand in doing it. Did you ever feel that one day it was just going to end, and you were just going to crack because of the immense stress and whatever? Whatever we did, we didn't really risk very much because the fact that we travelled on forged documents,

collected German food, stayed in German barracks and so on, wore...not the uniform, but the German overcoats, if we were caught, the first bullet we would have got for being Jewish. A lot of survivors still look at themselves as being the victim of Holocaust. I say that we are the victors because we survived Hitler

and we created something that Hitler was trying to prevent - creating new generations. All you are new generations of the Holocaust. And you will create another generation, another generation,

to keep on the tradition, and keep on the heritage. MOURNFUL MUSIC Supertext Captions by the Australian Caption Centre