Survivor tells of living in hell of Holocaust

Holocaust survivor Arek Hersh in St Annes yesterday

Holocaust survivor Arek Hersh in St Annes yesterday

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A Holocaust survivor gave an emotional speech at a memorial event in a Fylde coast synagogue.

Arek Hersh, 87, from Poland, was just15-years-old when he made the two-day train journey from a ghetto to Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

We must not forget the atrocities of the Holocaust

He told of how he survived starvation, disease and freezing temperatures, when he spoke at a Holocaust memorial service at St Annes Synagogue yesterday.

Event organiser Michelle Wiseman said: “It was a very powerful service. You could hear a pin drop in the room.

“There were a lot of people with damp eyes, hearing the horrors of what he had gone through.”

Arek lived for five years in the Lodz Ghetto - a poverty-stricken ghetto established by the Nazis to separate Jewish and Romani people from the rest of the population.

In 1942 he escaped certain death when he ran away from a crowd of 4,000 people who had been rounded into a church by Nazi soldiers.

While Arek hid among a group of people who had been selected for manual labour, those in the church were taken to Chelmno death camp, where they were gassed and buried in mass graves.

In 1944 he was taken to Auschwitz, and was later transferred to Theresienstadt concentration camp in the Cezch Republic before being liberated by the Russian army in 1945.

Michelle said: “It was not only the Jews who were killed, it was also Romani people and anyone who didn’t fit Hitler’s idea of the ideal human being.

“We have got to pass these stories on from generation to generation. We must not forget the atrocities of the Holocaust.”

Remembering the millions wiped out during the Holocaust

• It is estimated that 11 million people were killed during the Holocaust. Six million of these were Jews.

• The Nazis killed approximately two-thirds of all Jews living in Europe.

• An estimated 1.1 million children were murdered in the Holocaust.

• The Nazis built six extermination camps: Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Auschwitz, and Majdanek. (Auschwitz and Majdanek were both concentration and extermination camps.)

• Prisoners transported to these extermination camps were told to undress to take a shower but were herded into gas chambers and killed. At Chelmno, the prisoners were herded into gas vans.