Willy Blum
The “forgotten” child on the list

Willy Blum was born in Rübeland (in the Harz Mountains) on 26 June 1928, the eighth of ten children. His father Alois and his mother Toni owned a travelling puppet theater. In 1943, the police deported the “gypsy” family to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
On 3 August 1944, after the dissolution of the Auschwitz “Gypsy family camp,” Willy and his ten-year-old brother Rudolf were sent to Buchenwald. At the end of September, Rudolf was to be deported back to Auschwitz and thus to certain death. Willy decided to go with his brother and volunteers for the transport, for which Stefan Jerzy Zweig was originally also scheduled. The two brothers, Willy and Rudolf, were presumably murdered by the SS shortly after their arrival in Auschwitz.

The failure to commemorate Willy Blum before 2018 contrasts with the world-famous heroic rescue story of the “Buchenwald child” Stefan Jerzy Zweig.

The Blum and Elsner puppeteer families in front of their caravan. Two-year-old Willy (center) is held by sister Anna, 1930.

This is the only existent photograph of Willy Blum. The Blums had been showmen for generations, moving from place to place to perform their art. All family members except Willy and Rudolf survived.

(private property)

Buchenwald Concentration Camp prisoner registration file for 16-year-old Willy Blum, 3 August 1944.

Willy Blum arrived at Buchenwald on a transport from Auschwitz on 3 August 1944, together with his ten-year-old brother Rudolf. The document lists the reason of his arrest as “Gypsy.”

(Arolsen Archives)

"... to which there are no objections." The Buchenwald camp physician confirms Willy Blum's fitness for transport, 23 September 1944.

The Buchenwald SS physician Dr. Bender certified the two Sinto boys Willy Blum and Walter Bamberger as fit for transport after an examination; both “want to be transported with their brothers.”

(Arolsen Archives)

Addendum to the list for transport to Auschwitz, 25 September 1944.

Willy Blum, number 200, was entered as a replacement for Stefan Jerzy Zweig.

(Arolsen Archives)

Belated memorialization. Cover of the book Das Kind auf der Liste by Annette Leo, 2018.

It was not until 2018 that Annette Leo researched and reconstructed the story of Willy Blum and his family. She published her findings in 2018 in the book Das Kind auf der Liste (The Child on the List).

(Aufbau Verlag)


Memorial stone for Willy Blum as part of the Buchenwald Railway Memorial Stones project: