PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The infamous Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz was liberated Jan. 27, 1945. That date is commemorated worldwide as Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh also remembers. Director Lauren Bairnsfather says the Squirrel Hill Center is focused on education.
“We work with teachers, and train them to teach the Holocaust. We bring in school groups. Oftentimes, we bring a survivor to tell their story to students,” Bairnsfather said.
One of those survivors is 92-year-old Sam Gottesman.
“The train, a day and a half, we arrived in Auschwitz,” he says. “They opened up the gates of the train, and we’re walking into Hell. The screaming. The shouting.”
He says that’s where his family was separated.
“My older sisters, three of them went to one side, and my oldest sister, who had a baby, and my mother and my grandmother; the rest went to the other side. That was the last time we saw them,” said Gottesman.
The walls of the Holocaust Center are filled with portraits of survivors living in the Pittsburgh area. They tell their stories on a video screen. Gottesman recalls the day the camp guards fled.
“And the Americans came, and told us to stay here. They were going to come and fix us up,” Gottesman said.
They did. After hospital treatment, he boarded a train to his native Czechoslovakia.
“They crossed the Czech-German border, they started to sing the Czech anthem, and I remember I started to cry,” he says.
He entered the camps with a family of 10. Only three survived. Yes – Sam Gottesman remembers.