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World Celebrates Holocaust Remembrance Day: The Heartbreaking Stories of Survivors

On January 27, the world celebrates the International Day of Remembrance for the Victims of the Holocaust - on this day in 1945, Soviet soldiers of the 1st Ukrainian Front liberated the prisoners of the largest Nazi camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Auschwitz. More than 1 million people died in this camp alone.

Photo: Shutterstock

“The Holocaust, which led to the extermination of one third of Jews and innumerable people of other nationalities, will always serve as a warning to all people about the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice ...”, says UN Resolution 60/7, which and declared January 27 as a day of remembrance for the victims of the Holocaust in November 2005, quoted "NV".

The Holocaust is translated from ancient Greek as "burnt offering" and means the systematic persecution and destruction (genocide) of Jews by Nazi Germany and collaborators during 1933-1945. In a broader sense, the Holocaust is the systematic persecution and extermination of people on the basis of their racial, ethnic, nationality, sexual orientation or genetic type as inferior and harmful.

It is officially recognized that 6 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust, of which from 2,2 to 2,5 million in the territory of the former Soviet Union, recalls "Ukrinform".

On this day, the world community not only remembers the victims of misanthropic politics, but also speaks of the desire to fight anti-Semitism, racism and all other forms of intolerance that can lead to targeted violence against a particular group of people.

People should be aware of the turning points and tragic moments in our history, because only by realizing the past, one can count on peace and unity in the future.

"The happiest man on earth"

“I am the happiest person on earth because I was sentenced to death,” admits Eddie Yaku in an interview Bi-bi-si.

Eddie was born in Germany in 1920, and then the Jewish boy's name was Abraham Yakubovich. After surviving the Holocaust, he vowed to enjoy life every day and help others do the same. Eddie set himself a goal: to live to be one hundred years old and become the kindest and most active old man in the world.

It seems that he succeeded quite well. Today he is a cheerful husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather.

“The Nazis wanted me to start hating them, but they didn't succeed,” Eddie says. - They - yes, they hated us, but I do not hate. And I want to tell young people: hating someone is dangerous. Hatred is a disease, it can help destroy the enemy, but it will destroy you too. ”

It was with this in mind, Eddie says, that he labored in the concentration camps, holding back his anger and looking for glimmers of hope wherever he could. It could be just a smile or a piece of bread shared with someone, in general, everything that did not allow the soul to harden.

In November 1938, the Nazis staged "Kristallnacht", or "Night of Broken Glass Windows" (so named because by morning the pavements were littered with fragments of broken shop windows and windows of synagogues, shops and houses belonging to Jews). Then a wave swept across Germany and Austria pogroms, the victims of which were thousands of Jews.

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In the next seven years, Eddie experienced indescribable horrors: first, in 1938, it was Buchenwald, then, in 1944 - Auschwitz, and, finally, a couple of months before the end of the war, he faced a death march, when the Nazis drove the prisoners into the interior of the country when approaching Red Army and Allied troops. By the end of the war, he had nothing left: no family, no friends, no homeland.

“I owed 50 percent of my life to luck, and the other 50 percent came from knowing when to speak and when to keep quiet,” Eddie explains. - You cannot fight the enemy when you are in captivity. He is the master, you are the servant. This knowledge may have saved me. ”

In January 1945, just a few months before the end of the war, Eddie and about 60 other prisoners of Auschwitz were forced to take part in the so-called death march. As the Red Army advanced, the Germans began to drive the emaciated concentration camp prisoners deep into the territory that they still controlled. After walking hundreds of kilometers (the road took him again through Buchenwald), Eddie was able to escape.

Before the events of Kristallnacht, Eddie was a strong and healthy young man, but by the end of the war, when American soldiers found him, he turned into a real goner: weighed only 28 kg. PHaving fallen into the hospital, Eddie gave himself a vow: “If I survive, I will become the happiest person on earth. I will help everyone, I will be kind, I will do everything that the Germans refused to me. That's how I won. "

Eddie did not become bitter, but he also does not engage in self-deception: “So many Nazi criminals and murderers were not punished. They live happily in South America with our money. ” After the war, he could not feel at home in Europe and left for Australia with his wife Flora. The couple have been married for 74 years, they have grandchildren and great-grandchildren. In early 2020, Eddie celebrated his XNUMXth birthday.

“I want to tell everyone about the three whales that hold my world: hope, health and happiness,” he says. "And happiness is the only thing that doubles up when you share it with someone."

"I didn't have time to live at all"

Photo: video frame YouTube / yadvashemrussian

Betty Meir (nee Ichenhäuser) was born before the war in Germany, in Frankfurt am Main. After the Nazis came to power in 1933, her family fled the country and settled in Holland, in Amsterdam. Betty, born in 1923, studied nursing in Amsterdam. During the occupation, she remained to care for her mother, who was not ready for a life in hiding. Mother and daughter were soon sent to the Westerbork camp, and then to Bergen-Belsen, says YouTube channel yadvashemrussian.

“I first came to Bergen-Belsen 65 years later,” recalled Betty Meir, looking at the green park. - And I can't believe that our concentration camp was located here. Because we were most oppressed by the fact that there was not a single tree or flower, and no birds could be heard ”.

Betty worked in the camp infirmary and helped her mother.

“My worst duty was to check every morning who died that night and carry the dead out of the barracks,” she says. - In the morning a cabman came in a cart pulled by a donkey, and we loaded the corpses onto the cart. I was especially bitter when my acquaintances were among them. It was terrible. But you must understand that in a concentration camp, normal human feelings and reflexes atrophy. "

“We lived in terrible cramped conditions,” Betty continues. - And more and more prisoners from all countries were brought to us, and then also the prisoners of Auschwitz. And we slept several people in one bunk. ”

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There was only one infirmary for the entire camp.

“One night I broke down. I went into the nurses' room and burst into tears, ”she says. “And although I am not a religious person, I prayed:“ Lord! What have I done in my life? I haven’t had time to live at all. If I die today, I won't leave anything behind. And I prayed to God to keep me alive. And then I pulled myself together again. "

“The work was very hard, but I saved my mom, which is a big deal,” says Betty. “And after a few weeks, if I were religious, I would say that it happened by God's will, I was included in the list of prisoners who were released from the camp.”

A nurse specialty helped Betty save her mother. Shortly before the end of the war, both of them were fortunate enough to get to Switzerland as part of a prisoner exchange. After the war, they reached Marseilles, and from there - to Algeria.

Betty immigrated to Israel in 1945, completed her education there and became a registered nurse.

"You no longer have a mom ..."

Photo: video frame YouTube / yadvashemrussian

Manya Begunova talks about her stay in labor camps on the territory of occupied Ukraine. She wrote down her words YouTube channel yadvashemrussian.

“An order came that all able-bodied residents of the town should come to the council with a change of linen and food for three days. I remember this last night with my parents. We had three children, the older sister graduated from the dental school in 1941, the brother who was evacuated with the teenagers finished 10 classes, and I was the last with my parents, and now they were losing me too ...

They brought us to a stone quarry near the Bug, by the railway. The Germans gave the teenagers hammers on a long wooden handle and showed us how to crush the breed. We began to do what we were ordered to do. The women who were among us were given shovels and ordered to load the crushed rock onto trolleys. There were also several men from our town, already elderly, not liable for military service. They were forced to push these trolleys to the platforms.

It was already dark when we were taken to the town of Raygorod, also in the Vinnitsa region. The houses were empty, the doors were wide open, knocked out. Apparently, the Jews were either taken out there or exterminated. And this is what the German labor camp is: in the center of the town, several Jewish houses are fenced with barbed wire, machine-gun towers are on the sides for protection. In such camps I was in three - the Germans did not keep Jews in the same place for a long time, they drove them from place to place. And so I ended up in one camp, there was a sand pit. The sand was loaded onto trucks and taken to the railroad.

You can imagine: in this camp I met my mother. My mother's name was Freema, she was 45 years old. They took her a week later than me. What a happiness it was to meet! We sat hugging all the time, ate together, she tried to give me the last piece. We were together for a whole month. But the happiness quickly ended.

They were urgently rewriting children, like me, who had not reached the age of 16, and those like my mother, who were already 45 years old. We were promised that they would send us home. And then one unfortunate morning they began to read out the surnames from the list. Those on this list were told to stay and not go to work. And those who were not on the list were driven into the quarry. Soon SS cars arrived, and SS men in black suits got out. I clearly remember how my mother hugged me and said: "We are lost."

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They began to put us in these cars. Someone had a mother in the car, and a daughter in a career, or vice versa. And those who worked in the quarry learned from someone that German cars arrived at our camp and they would take us away. And they, in spite of the shots, in a panic rushed to the camp. It turned out to be such a scuffle ... My mother was already sitting in the car, and I had to get into the car and I approached her. And one of the girls who was in the quarry, and whose mother was already sitting in the car, rushed to her mother with a terrible cry. Instead of me, they threw her into the car, and they pushed me away and I hit my head against the wall and lost consciousness for a while.

I don’t remember how the car drove away, I only remember how my mother shouted: “Manya! You no longer have a mom ... "

"I returned from the whole family alone"

Photo: video frame YouTube / yadvashemrussian

Hana Bar-Yesha, née Helga Rosner, was born in 1932. Her parents were religious Jews and lived in the city of Ungvar (modern Uzhgorod, Ukraine), says YouTube channel yadvashemrussian.

In 1944 she was deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. Hana survived all the horrors of the war and was left alone.

“After hard days and nights spent on the road, I came here,” says Hana Bar-Yesha, standing at a train station in Budapest. - And I felt that I was all alone. I think it was one of the few moments in my life when for the first time I realized with all sharpness that I was left alone in the whole wide world, that I had no one. I was very lonely. "

“Dear Uncle Yitzhak. From all our family I was the only one who returned, ”Khan quotes his letter to his uncle, who lived in Palestine. - But still I want to find a family, to find at least one loved one. I am Helga, daughter of your brother Yehuda. I am 13 years old. You can imagine the suffering I endured. Dear uncle, if you receive my letter, then please, take me to you ... "

In 1946, Hana decided to repatriate to Palestine. The British, who banned Jews from entering Palestine, detained the ship on which Hana was in Italy. She illegally traveled to Palestine on a fishing boat.

Only at the age of 75, Hana again went to the city of her childhood and to the camp that changed her life.

More stories told by survivors of the horror of the Holocaust can be found on the website Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Complex.

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