OSWIECIM, Poland (Reuters) – Jona Laks could smell the burning flesh as she walked towards death at the Auschwitz crematorium. More than 75 years later, aged 90, she has returned to what was the most notorious Nazi death camp of World War Two’s Jewish Holocaust.
“I can see it now,” she says, gazing upon the crematorium where the corpses of Jews from across Europe who were murdered in gas chambers were later burned in furnaces.
“I saw sparks from the chimney and I could feel the burning flesh. As we got closer I could feel something was going to happen. I started crying. I didn’t want my sisters to see me cry,” Laks said softly. She was to be saved moments later.
The Nazis murdered more than one million people at Auschwitz, nearly all of them Jews. Six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust.
Laks was about 14 when she was transported to Auschwitz in 1944 with her twin sister Miriam and older sister Chana from the Jewish ghetto of Lodz in Nazi-occupied Poland.
She returned this week as a guest of honor at the international ceremony on Jan. 27 commemorating the 75th anniversary of the camp’s liberation, hosted at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial.
“It’s still so clear. I can’t imagine it was 75 years ago,” said Laks, speaking slowly as her face filled with sorrow.
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