Today we met Steen Metz, a native of Denmark with a very interesting story to tell of his experiences in a Nazi concentration camp as a child.

Mr. Metz was one of only about 7,500 Jews living in Denmark at the time of the German occupation in 1940. For the first few years of the occupation life went on as usual, but all that changed in 1943, when those who had no warning of what was to come, including the 8-year-old Steen and his parents, were loaded into cattle cars and shipped to the Terazin (Theresienstadt) concentration camp in what was then Czechoslovakia.


Steen was allowed to stay with his mother in the camp, but his father was sent to live in the men's barrack. His father, unaccustomed to hard manual labor and given minimal rations, died of starvation 6 months later. No one was allowed to speak the truth about his death, though—they were required to say he died of pneumonia.

Steen was given a job as a messenger in the camp, working several hours a day. When his route took him past the kitchen, he took advantage of the opportunity to pocket a couple of raw potatoes to bring to his mother—prisoners didn't normally get to eat the potatoes, only the skins, which were used to make soup. Mr. Metz reported that, to his mother's relief, he did not grow up to be a kleptomaniac.

The camp was liberated by Allied forces in 1945, but many of those who were forced to reside there suffered permanent physical and psychological effects. Mr. Metz speaks often about his experiences in front of school and other groups, doing what he can to ensure that people never forget.