As a result of the betrayal by Christiaan Lindemans (King Kong), Karst Smit, along with Frans van Hugenpoth, was arrested 18 March 1944. Karst was imprisoned in Fresnes Prison, near Paris, from 18 March 1944 to 15 August 1944.
From Fresnes Prison he was sent to Buchenwald Concentration Camp. From then on, known as Prisoner No. 77692, his concentration camp experiences can be summarized as follows:
1. Transport from Fresnes Prison to Buchenwald Concentration Camp, 15-20 August 1944. (The book, Destination Buchenwald, by Colin Burgess, Kenthurst NSW, Australia: Kangaroo Press, 1995, provides a detailed description of the journey.)
2. Buchenwald Concentration Camp, 20 Aug. 1944-8 Sept. 1944, Bloc Kleine Lager.
3. Ellrich Concentration Camp, 8 Sept. 1944 to 22 Oct. 1944, Bloc IV.
4. Dora Concentration Camp, 22 Oct. 1944 to 5 April 1945, Bloc 17A.
5. Transport from Dora Concentration Camp to Ravensbruck Concentration Camp, 5-16 April, 1945. Route taken: Osterode-Clausthal- Goscar- Magdeburg-Stendal-Kremmen.
4. Ravensbruck Concentration Camp, 16 April 1945 to 28 April 1945, Bloc Jugendlager.
On April 28, 1945, Karst and several others escaped from a column of prisoners being marched west.
PEOPLE WHO SAVED THE LIFE OF KARST SMIT
Karst attributed his survival to the help given him by four people:
1. Dr. Jacques Poupault, French, the prison doctor at Ellrich Concentration Camp, who smuggled Karst out of Ellrich to Dora where there would be a better chance of medical care for his infected hand.
2. Arie Van Vliet, Dutch, from Vlaardingen, blockschreiber at Dora Concentration Camp, who entered Karst’s name in the camp records as “deceased.” Like Karst, he had served in the Jagers during the war and may have known Karst on the French merchant ship Pavon.
3. Dr. Hessel L. Groeneveld, Dutch, a G.P. from Nijmegen, prison doctor at Dora Concentration Camp, who treated Karst’s infected hand and let him hide in the prison hospital and work as a nurse.
4. Anonymous Russian prisoner at Ellrich, who, in exchange for some food, made a soup bowl for Karst out of stolen bits of metal so that Karst could collect his soup ration.
FELLOW PRISONERS IN THE CONCENTRATION CAMPS
Following this page are two pages of my website, one in English, the other Dutch, of a two-page letter from Karst Smit on 7 November 1945 to the Bureau of Ex-Political Prisoners (het Bureau Ex-Politieke Gevangenen), Honthorststraat 3, Amsterdam, giving the names of the people with him in Fresnes Prison and the concentration camps. I would like to correspond with the families of any of the people listed.
FELLOW PRISONERS WITH WHOM KARST SMIT ESCAPED
I am trying to identify the fellow prisoners with whom Karst escaped from the column of prisoners being moved west by the SS guards after being evacuated from Ravensbruck. They reached the Elbe as the Russians arrived on the east side and the Americans on the west. They were ferried across the river by Americans and made their way home. One name (Van Roy) was identified by Karst Smit in a 1964 letter to the Dutch Red Cross while the others are based on information from Guido Zembsch-Schreve’s book, Pierre Lalande, Special Agent, the Wartime Memoirs of Guido Zembsch-Schreve published in 1996 by Leo Cooper, London.
1. H.A. (Hubertus Andres) van Roy, of Valkenburg (Limburg), Oud Valkenburgerweg 119. He was born 9 March 1893 in Nederweert. Karst said that Van Roy was with him during the evacuation from Dora to Ravensbruck as well as the journey from Ravensbruck to The Netherlands. According to Mr. Van Roy’s family, H.A. van Roy appears in the photo of Dutch escapees in Zembsch-Schreve’s book referred to below.
2. Guido Zembsch-Schreve of Brussels. Karst identified him as having been arrested at about the same time as he was. Zembsch-Schreve was an agent for the Special Operations Executive (SOE) and was arrested 20 March 1944, only two days after Karst’s arrest.
3. Paul Capelle was a captain in the Belgian Air Force. He is mentioned in the book by Zembsch-Schreve. He and Iwens left the group in Antwerp.
4. Pierre Rozan was an aide to the camp commandant.
5. Hans Iwens. A Belgian, he and Capelle were dropped off in Antwerp where their families were to pick them up.
6. Isaac (no last name given). After their group crossed into The Netherlands, he was dropped off at Apeldoorn so that he could try to locate his family. Zembsch-Schreve mentions that he is Jewish.
7. Three men were referred to in the Pierre Lalande book only by their first names. According to the book, they were dropped off at Amersfoort so that they could head home:
Gerrit, who headed for Haarlem. “Gerrit” may be Zembsch-Schreve’s mistaken recollection of Karst Gerrit Smit and “Haarlem” an unintended substitution for “The Hague,” Karst’s hometown.
Joop, who continued on to Leiden
Henk, destined for Schiedam.
Opposite page 85 of Zembsch-Schreve’s Pierre Lalande book, is a photo of the group of escapees posing in their newly issued clothes after reaching the Dutch city of Enschede. Zembsch-Schreve is quite visible in the back row and the fair-haired Karst Smit, holding one end of a Dutch flag, in the front row. I would like to identify the other men in the picture. Some of them undoubtedly are the persons listed above. I would like to correspond with them or their families. I have requested permission to reproduce the photo in this website.
There are 11 men in the photo in Zembsch-Schreve’s book. The names above account for nine of them. The following names are mentioned in by Zembsch-Schreve as being part of the Resistance organization in Dora. Some of them may have been in the group that made it to Enschede:
- 1. Pierre Ziller
- 2. Bernard Zuber
- 3. (first name not given) Bordier. (There was a Bordier who was with Dr. Poupault, so if it is the same person, he was not with the Zembsch-Schreve group.)
- 4. (first name not given) Chandon
- 5. (first name not given) Unterreiner
- 6. (first name not given) Lenoir
- 7. Dr. Jacques Poupault. It appears that Poupault was not with the Zembsch-Schreve group. His experiences were different.
- 8. Pierre Dejussieu
- 9. Emile Bollaert
I would like to corresp0nd with anyone who has information on the above people.