«Barely alive people kissed the tank»
On Memorial Day of the Holocaust’s victims daughter of death camps’ liberator shared her mother’s memories with «Izvestia».
Today in the Jewish museum and the tolerance centre Holocaust’s victims were remembered. In this meeting representatives of the Russian government agencies, international organizations, diplomatic missions, the Chief Rabbinate Berel Lazar, president of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia Alexander Boroda took part in the ceremony of lighting memorial candles. Children of former prisoners of death camps and liberator veterans were presented at this event.
— The Holocaust is the most terrible tragedy in the history of our people, which affected almost every Jewish family in the Soviet Union, — said Alexander Boroda. — Perpetuating the memory of the victims of the Holocaust is our moral duty. The Jewish people must preserve it and pass it on to the future generation. The Red Army soldiers, broken into Auschwitz, found only seven thousand people alive. No one knows how many people died there.
the Chief Rabbinate Berel Lazar called for "fighting against everyone, who opposes other nations."
— Unfortunately, the lessons of history have not yet been learned. We need to do everything possible to prevent this tragedy from happening again, - Berel Lazar believes.
— The Holocaust is not just a tragedy of the Jewish nation. This is humanity’s madness. This evil should never be forgotten, - says Elena Semerikova, the daughter of the liberator of Majdanek and Auschwitz, Wanda Kadtsina-Vrublevskaya.
The whole world celebrates the International Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27, the day of the liberation of Auschwitz. Elena Semerikova told Izvestia what she learned about this day from her mother.
— My mother went to the front as a girl: she was only 17 years old. She served as a scout in the First Army of the Polish Army named after Tadeusz Kosciuszko. Ethnic Poles and other Polish-speaking citizens of the Soviet Union were recruited there. Mom got into this army because of the language - she spoke Polish because her father was the Polish.
Being a part of this multinational army, Wanda Kadtsina-Vrublevskaya liberated Warsaw, Lublin, Krakow, which the outgoing Germans mined to completely destroy it. The fact that Krakow did not blow up into the air is the merit of Wanda and other scouts: they found out about the plans of the fascists and saved the city. Wanda became a participant in the liberation of the death camps that were located on the territory of Poland: Majdanek and Auschwitz. While liberating Auschwitz, she was 21 years old.
— Majdanek, which was located near Lublin, was one of the first camps in Poland, where Jews began to be exterminated en masse, — said Elena Semerikova. — At first, the aristocracy of Poland was taken to Majdanek, yet after the Wannsee Conference adopted a resolution on the "final solution of the Jewish question", Polish Jews were taken to these camps. As a result, most of the prisoners in this camp were Jews. In total, 80 thousand representatives of this nation were burned in the camp.
The liberators found a whole barrack with children's clothes, the second one with women's hair, the third with things and jewelry. The prisoners of the camp brought everything with them, because they were not preparing to die.
— The camp staff was required not to feel any human feelings to the prisoners. Even the fascists treated dogs better than Jews. On the territory of the camp they kept guard shepherds, and these dogs were kept in better conditions than the prisoners of the camp, — Elena Semerikova continues to remember her mother’s stories.
When the Soviet army came closer to Majdanek, the fascists did not have time to kill all the prisoners and they buried people alive.
— There was a terrible groan, the earth was moving. It is simply impossible to forgive this evil! It cannot be left in the past or forgotten. This is a crime against humanity! — says the daughter of the liberator of the camp. — However, Auschwitz was scarier — the most powerful death industry. People were brought there in crowded trains from all over Europe. They drove for two days standing, arrived already exhausted. Mom told me that people were immediately divided into men, women, children, and the elderly. The infirm were immediately sent to the furnaces.
In Auschwitz factories were provided for processing the "raw materials" of the camp — prisoners' belongings. They were sorted and sent for processing and melting. The captives' crowns also went to the melting furnaces.
— The lake in Auschwitz is a mass grave where millions of lives ended. Ashes from cremation furnaces were poured into this lake. In this place the earth and air are saturated with pain. They're screaming! — says Elena Semerikova.
When the Soviet army came closer to the camp, the fascists began to burn the barracks, bury people alive.
— Mom remembered how creepy it was: there was a smell of human meat all around, — Elena Semerikova continued the story. — She said that when our first tank drove up to the gates of Auschwitz (the one on which it was written that labor liberates), he furiously tore them off, and barely alive people kissed this tank. They were so exhausted, that they immediately fell down.
According to the narrator, the soldiers did not wait for the tanks to enter the camp — they jumped out of the tanks and ran to the prisoners shouting "Hurrah!". They were in a hurry to save as many lives as possible.
— In a rush, the soldiers gave the prisoners all the food they had, water, alcohol from flasks. They wanted to warm these people, as it was winter, especially children who were not killed. Children were pulling hands with numbers written on them towards the liberators. They did not even have names—just a number. Of course, our soldiers warmed them, hugged them, but they were completely lifeless. Mom said that everyone had big eyes. Probably, only their eyes remained, - Elena Semerikova shares.
According to the interlocutor of Izvestia, Wanda Kadtsina-Vrublevskaya could never watch films about the war. She did not like to talk about these topics and until the end of her days she felt the weight of the memories of her youth. The liberator of Auschwitz died in January 2014.