Story By: James King, Sub-Editor: Marija Stojkoska, Agency: Newsflash
A group of British Holocaust survivors visited the concentrations camps where they and members of the families were beaten, tortured and murdered by Nazi guards.
Several members of the group of around 60 survivors had never visited the camps before and were accompanied by British soldiers as it was British soldiers who helped liberate the Bergen-Belsen camp 76 years ago.
According to the organization ‘The March of the Living’, the group travelled to their places of birth in cities such as Halle, Berlin and Leipzig before travelling on to the concentrations camps ‘Ravensbruck’ in Brandenburg and ‘Bergen-Belsen’ in Lower Saxony yesterday, 25th October.
Four of the survivors who visited the Bergen-Belsen camp were accompanied by their children and accompanied by a delegation of British soldiers. It was British soldiers who liberated the camp on 15th April 1945.
The survivors and the soldiers also attended a memorial ceremony in honour of the British armed forces and their role in bringing an end to the Nazi genocide.
In Bergen-Belsen – originally a POW camp that held Soviet prisoners – around 20,000 prisoners of war and around 52,000 concentration camp prisoners were exterminated.
When the British soldiers liberated the camp they were confronted with horrific scenes including piles of dead bodies and thousands of prisoners who were slowly dying of terminal conditions.
Mala Tribich, a survivor who returned to the camp where her family were once held, told the news site Tag24 that “The grief and the tragedy never goes away.”
According to the Holocaust education trust Mala was born in Piotrkow Trybunalski, Poland in 1930.
After Germany invaded Poland she ended up in a Warsaw ghetto with her family.
Her family tried to save Mala by sending her to the city of Czestochowa where her parents had paid a local family to take her in and pretend that she was a Christian relative from Warsaw.
Mala eventually returned to her family in Warsaw where members of her family including her eight-year-old sister were rounded up and shot in a forest.
The ghetto was then liquidated and Mala became a slave labourer until November 1944 when she was taken to the Ravensbruck concentration camp.
After ten weeks in the camp, she was moved to Bergen-Belsen where conditions were horrendous and she contracted typhus. She was saved by British troops who liberated the camp and sent her to hospital for treatment.
Mala was later moved to Sweden as one of the countless Jewish child refugees left behind by the war.
She spent two years in Sweden before receiving an unexpected letter from her brother who she thought was dead.
Her brother, the only surviving member of her direct family, said he was alive and well in England.
Mala moved to England in 1947, she learned English and went on to earn a degree in sociology from the University of London. She now has two children and three grandchildren.
She said that despite the time that has passed and the fact she has visited the camp several times before: “It does not get any easier.”
Alfred Garwood, another survivor who visited the camp, said that his parents who he was in the camp with often told him he was lucky to have been too young to remember the horrors of what happened.
He said: “We were set free when I was a child.” despite being young when he left he says that “When I came back, I began to feel the horror.”
An estimated six million Jews and millions of other ‘undesirables’ such as Roma, religious dissidents and homosexuals were exterminated in the camps during the time they were in operation between 1941-1945.