January 27th marks the 70th anniversary of the Red Army’s liberation of the infamous Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz.
An estimated 1.1 million people, most of them Jewish, were killed behind the massive walls of Auschwitz, and in the years since its liberation, Auschwitz has become a heart-breaking symbol of the atrocities of World War II.
When the camp was taken from the Third Reich, 200,000 prisoners were still alive and freed. To commemorate the anniversary, Reuters photographer Laszlo Balogh photographed 20 survivors, along with photographs and artifacts from the nightmarish camp.
Eva Fahidi, 90, holds a picture of her family, who were all killed in the concentration camp during World War II, as she poses for a portrait in Budapest. Fahidi was 18 in 1944 when she and her family were moved from Debrecen, Budapest, to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Marian Majerowicz, 88, who was registered with camp number 157715, is originally from Myszkow, Poland. Majerowicz was 17 when he was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau. At the camp he was briefly reunited with his father, who told him that his mother and younger brother were both killed in the gas chambers. Majerowicz’s father didn’t survive the war.
Jadwiga Bogucka (maiden name Regulska), 89, was registered with camp number 86356. During the Warsaw Uprising in August, 1944, when Bogucka was 19, she and her mother were sent from their house to a camp in Pruszkow, Poland, and then moved on August 12, 1944 by train to Auschwitz-Birkenau. They were liberated by the Red Army on January 27, 1945.
Below, Bogucka holds a picture of herself from 1944.
lzbieta Sobczynska (maiden name Gremblicka), 80, who was registered with camp number 85536, gestures as she poses for a portrait in Warsaw. During the Warsaw Uprising, when Sobczynska was 10-years-old, she was sent with her mother and brother from their home to a camp in Pruszkow and then moved by train to Auschwitz-Birkenau. There they were separated into blocks for woman, girls and boys. Sobczynska said that she was robbed of her childhood, and lost the chance to experience a different kind of life.
Here, she holds her father’s watch, which was kept by her brother while they were in the camp.
Stefan Sot, 83, who was registered with camp number 192705, was 13 years old during the Warsaw Uprising in August 1944. He was sent from his home to a camp in Pruszkow prior to being sent by train to Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. He was later moved to a labour sub-camp, where he worked in a kitchen for S.S. officers. After the war he worked as a typesetter at a printing house.
Here’s a picture of Sot taken during the wartime.
Maria Stroinska, 82, gestures as she poses for a portrait in Warsaw. Stroinska was 12-years-old during the Warsaw Uprising when she and her sister were sent from their house to a camp in Pruszkow before she was moved alone by train to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Below, Stroinska holds a family photo taken before the war.
Henryk Duszyk, 80, was 10-years-old during the Warsaw Uprising in August, 1944. He was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau with his father, brother and stepmother. The family were separated and Duszyk only saw his father once more before he was killed at the camp. Duszyk, his brother and stepmother were kept at Auschwitz-Birkenau until the camp was liberated.
Here is a wartime photo of his family.
Auschwitz death camp survivor Lajos Erdelyi, 87, holds a drawing made by a campmate. Erdelyi was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau in May 1944 and was later moved to another camp. When he was freed he weighed under 66 pounds, but tried to walk home. He collapsed, and was taken to a hospital by a farmer.
Barbara Doniecka, 80, who was registered with camp number 86341, poses for a photo in Warsaw. Doniecka was 12-years-old during the Warsaw Uprising when she was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau with her mother.
Here, she holds a wartime photo of herself.
Janos Forgacs, 87, holds a document from Auschwitz below. Forgacs recalls that he was in a group transported to a camp in a cattle wagon, with the windows sealed with barbed wire. An military officer told them to hand over their belongings, telling them they would not need them anymore.
Survivor Halina Brzozowska, 82, was 12-years-old during the Warsaw Uprising when her family was sent to a camp in Pruszkow. She and her 6-year-old sister were then moved by train to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Brzozowska said that it was hard to say what had happened to them, that they were taken from their homes, family and lost their childhood.
Here is a picture of her during the war.
Danuta Bogdaniuk-Bogucka (maiden name Kaminska), 80, was 10-years-old when she was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau camp with her mother. Bogdaniuk-Bogucka was part of Josef Mengele’s experiments when she was in Auschwitz. After the war she met her mother again and they discovered they had both been at Ravensbruck camp at the same time, but they had not realised this.
Below, she holds a photo of her family during the war.
Survivor Jacek Nadolny, 77, who was registered with camp number 192685, poses for a portrait in Poland. Nadolny was seven during the Warsaw Uprising, when he was sent with his family to Auschwitz-Birkenau by train. In January 1945 the family was moved to a labour camp in Berlin.
Imre Varsanyi, 86, holds up a photo of fellow survivors during World War II. Varsanyi was 14-years-old when he and his family were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau. He was the only member of his family to survive. After the war Varsanyi did not talk about Auschwitz for 60 years because he felt ashamed of having survived.
Bogdan Bartnikowski, 82, was 12-years-old during the Warsaw Uprising, when he and his mother were sent to Auschwitz Birkenau camp. They were moved between camps several times. After the war Bartnikowski worked as a pilot and then became a journalist and writer.
Laszlo Bernath, 87, credits his father being a practical man for his survival of Auschwitz. He was 15 when they were taken but his father told him to lie about his age so that they would not be separated. Even while in the camp, Bernath had no idea about the gas chambers.
Here, Bernath holds up a picture of his family, who were all killed in the concentration camp during the war.
Janina Reklajtis, 80, was 12-years-old during the Warsaw Uprising when she and her mother were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau. They were sent to a labour camp in Berlin in January 1945 and were kept there until they were liberated.
Jerzy Ulatowski, 83, was taken by train to Auschwitz-Birkenau when he was 13-years-old. In January 1945 he managed to escape with his family, as there was a lack of power in the barbed wire surrounding the camp.
Erzsebet Brodt, 89, poses for a portrait in Budapest January 12, 2015. Brodt was 17-years-old when she was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau along with her family. Remembering the journey to the camp she said that those who were “sick or about to give birth were forced out and put into one wagon. When the wagon was opened in Auschwitz we saw that everyone was dead inside.”
Here, Brodt shows a photograph of her family, who were killed in the concentration camp during the war.
Survivor Zofia Wareluk, 70, was born in Auschwitz two weeks before the camp was liberated. Her mother was sent to Auschwitz when she was four months pregnant.
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