Manfred Kriegel is a big, bluff man, hair tied back in a pony tail. He is a passionate country & western singer. The 65-year-old has had a chequered history: after various attempts to escape East Germany he was jailed by the Stasi and freed by the West. Now he lives in the house of the former camp commandant, the SS officer Rudolf Kenn.
Over the kitchen table the SS architects carved the slogan: “To be German means to show character.” Mr Kriegel has covered it up with a block of wood. He has also plastered over a huge blue skull with the chilling motto: “Führer, give us the order and we will follow you!”
It was painted by the masons from the Operation Todt building team that created the camp in 1944. “But the brown floor tiles, they're original,” Mr Kriegel said, leading us through the spacious house.
By the standards of eastern Germany it is a des res: high ceilings and french windows leading into the garden. Mr Kriegel led us through a corridor plastered with photographs of Manfred and the Rangers — his band — John Wayne, Elvis and a certificate from the Cheyenne tribe awarding him the name “Singing Bear”, and into the living room.
This is where Kenn had a Jewish inmate killed because he struck a false note on the piano while playing Oh, How Deceitful Are the Hearts of Women.
Does Mr Kriegel sleep badly at night? “No”.
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