Paul Kerstenne

December 26 1921 in Ans (Belgium) – June 21 2013 in Luxemburg

Prisoner in the Dachau concentration camp: 1943–1945

Paul Kerstenne is completing his training with an insurance company in Liège when the Germans occupy Belgium in May 1940. He joins the resistance against the Nazis. He is arrested in September 1942 while attempting to flee to Britain via France and Portugal to fight at the side of British troops. After imprisonment in various French and Belgian prisons, the Gestapo sends Paul Kerstenne to the Dachau concentration camp in February 1943. As he arrives the camp is already seriously overfilled and infectious diseases are spreading rapidly in the catastrophic conditions. Paul Kerstenne contacts typhus and tuberculosis, and only just survives. In the winter of 1944/45, the SS assign him to the murderous “plantation” detail, forcing him to work on the open land of the SS experimental farms. After U.S. Army troops liberate the concentration camp on April 29 1945, Paul Kerstenne becomes an active member of the International Camp Committee, before once again falling ill. In 1946 he is able to resume working for the insurance company. He is involved in the founding of the Comité International de Dachau in 1955 and is active as its treasurer and main administrator until 2007. Using his role as a contemporary witness, he tells of his experiences as resistance fighter and concentration camp prisoner.