'I Wanted To Die': Holocaust Survivor Shares Concentration Camp Experiences

A Holocaust survivor has been sharing her experiences of Auschwitz-Birkenau to schoolchildren in south London.

Susan Pollack spoke to the pupils from Lilian Bayliss Technology School, ahead of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp.

Ms Pollack survived concentration camps at Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, and was freed while at the latter.

"We will do what we can to counteract any form of racism, any form of antisemitism," she told Forces News.

"We must remember it.

"Nothing like that is acceptable because we know now from experience what can take place.

"Each and every person is responsible."

At the age of 14, she was transported to the camp with her mother and older brother from Hungary to Auschwitz in 1944.

She said they were put into a train that would normally be used to transport "cattle".

"Doors were shut, it was hot in the summer," she said.

"They placed two buckets [in the train] for 100 people, at least, a bucket for drinking water, which spilled as soon as the train went, and the other one for human soil.

"At first we thought 'is this a resettlement?'

"And yet we were clinging on to something hopeful," Ms Pollack said.

Her mother was killed in a gas chamber and her brother was forced to move the dead bodies in the camp.

Auschwitz-Birkenau cattle trucks CREDIT BFBS 240120
Many of the victims traveled to the death camps in cattle trucks like this one that still remains at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in Poland as a reminder.

Once the camp was liberated, Ms Pollack had lost the ability to walk and had stopped speaking, because of the ordeal her body had been through.

"I wanted to die. I was ready to give up," she said.

When asked what stopped her from completely giving up, she said: "I crawled out, I couldn't walk.

"I crawled out into the open and I wasn't conscious anymore.

"But somebody lifted me up... and placed me in an ambulance."

Ms Pollack said the person who saved her was a "soldier".

Auschwitz-Birkenau Jewish stones on rail tracks CREDIT BFBS 240120
Part of Jewish tradition is to leave stones or pebbles on graves, but here they've been left on the train tracks leading to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated on 27 January 1945, when Soviet troops entered the camp.

The Soviet Army liberated more than 7,000 of the remaining prisoners from the camp.

It is estimated that around 1.3 million people were held in Auschwitz between 1940 and 1945 - at least 1.1 million were murdered - almost one million were Jews.

Those deported to the death camps were gassed, starved, worked to death or even killed through medical experiments by the camp's doctor.

Now Auschwitz-Birkenau, known as Auschwitz II, remains in Poland as a constant reminder of the genocide.

Bergen-Belsen was liberated on 15 April 1945 by the British Army's 11th Armoured Division.

They discovered more than 60,000 prisoners in need of urgent medical attention, along with over 13,000 people who had already died.

The site is now open to the public and features a number of memorials.

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