The Auschwitz Concentration Camp survivors are coming back to the site as they mark the 70th anniversary of their liberation by Soviet forces at the end of World War II.
Horrific, is a mild way to describe the experiences most of these survivors had to endure from Hitler’s Nazis, just because they were Jewish. Millions were displaced and killed during the conflict in the most unimaginable, cruel manner at several concentration camps around Europe.
Auschwitz was a network of Concentration and Extermination Camps operated by the Third Reich in areas of annexed Poland. At first the camp held Polish political prisoners, who began arriving in May of 1940, however, later on Auschwitz II–Birkenau became the main extermination camps of Jews.
Between early 1942 and late 1944, trains from all over Germany and occupied Europe delivered Jews to Auschwitz’s gas chambers. Prisoners were killed with Zyklon B — a cyanide-based pesticide invented in Germany in the early 1920s. At least 1.1 million human beings were murdered at the Auschwitz Concentration Camp, of those, around 90 percent were Jewish.
But for some of these survivors the best revenge was to live a full life, something the Nazis were trying to prevent with Concentration Camps such as Auschwitz. Such is the case with current Paris resident Isabelle Choko, who was sent to a camp when she was 11 and has not spoken about her Holocaust ordeal for many years. She recently sat down with with NBC News to talk about her ordeal.
“I had only one solution in front of me: It was to live. Live, love, work, have children, have joy in my life… because it is only those sentiments that allow you to survive.”
Choko, along with about 200 Auschwitz survivors, will come back to face the horrendous memories of what they endured at the infamous concentration camp all those years ago. The aging group will be marking their liberation by the Soviets on January 27, 1945 and also paying tribute to those who were not as lucky.
Marcel Tuchman, 93, survived being sent to four concentration camps and the gas chambers of Auschwitz and he is of the same opinion as Choko. After his release, Tuchman studied medicine and immigrated to the United States where he became a doctor in internal medicine and professor at the NYU School of Medicine.
“Their voices have been silenced by gas chambers and crematoria, so we the survivors have the duty to honor their memory and speak the best we can for them, and tell this unprecedented story of destruction of millions of people.”
“I think that we have the duty and we are honored to represent to the best of our ability we, who were lucky enough to survive, in order that they voices were never be silenced.”
As they mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz Concentration Camp, many of these survivors are running out of time and come to visit with their children and grandchildren so that the horrors that took place at the hands of Hitler’s henchmen is never forgotten once they leave this Earth. “The reason why I am here, I am going to stress and request that this would be repeated and repeated and repeated, ‘lest we forget.'” Tuchman says.
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