It was a moment of quick thinking on the part of 15-year-old Herbert Heller. He was at Auschwitz, standing before the man who would decide whether he lived or died, a man he was told went by the name of Dr. Mengele. “I can work,” Heller said in German, and flexed what he now calls “nonexistent muscles.” He may have been scrawny, but it was enough, and he was sent not to the gas chamber but to the barracks of the camp. Heller, 91, said that moment has never left him. Read full story, includes link to video here.
Shlomo Venezia was one of the first Jews to climb out of the freight car when it came to the end of the line at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland on April 11, 1944, his mother crammed behind him. For nearly 50 years he remained haunted and virtually silent about his role in the horror. ''Not because I didn't want to talk,'' he said, ''but because people didn't want to listen, didn't want to believe it.'' That changed in the early 1990s, when right-wing extremism reared again in Italy and, Venezia said, "swastikas began to appear on walls''. He began to speak at conferences, to reporters, to schoolchildren – and most notably to Beatrice Prasquier, a journalist with whom, in 2007, he published Inside the Gas Chambers: Eight Months in the Sonderkommando at Auschwitz. The book offers a harrowingly matter-of-fact account in which he describes loading corpses into the ovens 12 hours a day, seven days a week. For full story click here.