'The moment I thought my time had come'
A German-born Jew, Michael had already lost his father to suicide when he and his mother were rounded up and taken to a ghetto near Prague in 1941. Then in 1944, they were taken to Auschwitz, where his mother was led straight to the gas chamber.
But Michael didn't have the luxury of mourning as he worked almost around the clock, on very little food, in the engineering workshop.
"On one occasion I fell asleep at my work leaning against the wheel of a wagon," he recalls. "I was rudely awoken by the butt of an SS guard's rifle striking my head. I was badly wounded and fell into the inspection pit below the wagon.
"I was picked up and marched out of the building by two SS guards. That was the only moment that I thought my time had come."
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In fact, the guards were marching him to the spartan hospital wing, where a Jewish doctor treated him for the next three days.
"Then he told me there was to be an inspection, and however bad I felt, I should go back to work – if I seemed ill when they inspected..."
Michael pauses and gives a shrug of his shoulders – there is no need for him to say what would have happened had he remained in the hospital.