DIRE WARNING: She Survived 3 Concentration Camps And A Gas Chamber, Listen To Her Warning
It was 70 years ago today that one of the fiercest Nazi concentration camps, Auschwitz, in Krakow, Poland was liberated. But one woman has miraculously lived to tell her story of surviving not only Auschwitz, but two other camps and walking out of a gas chamber alive.
Gena Turgel, 90, has had a life that almost is too unbelievable to be true. “When I think back, I have to pinch myself sometimes to see if I’m really alive,” she told NBC News.
She was just 16 years old when her hometown of Krakow was bombed on the first day of WWII on Sept. 1, 1939. Her brothers were killed in the Jewish ghetto fighting the Nazis. It followed that Turgel was sent to the first of three concentration camps she would be subjected to before the war was over. According to NBC’s report:
She then was sent to Plaszow concentration camp where she survived for two-and-a-half years until she was marched to Auschwitz. She survived testing by the infamous Nazi Doctor Josef Mengele.
While at Auschwitz, Turgel was herded naked into a gas chamber with hundreds of others. Somehow, absolutely miraculously—21 years old at the time—walked out alive. She said that she had no idea the Nazis tried to kill her until a woman she knew said, “Don’t you know what has just happened to you? You were in the gas chamber!”
“I completely lost my voice,” she said. “I just never realized I was in the gas chamber … it must not have worked.”
After two months spent at Auschwitz, as the Red Army advanced towards the camp, Turgel was forced with others to walk on a “death march,” first to Buchenwald concentration camp and then to Belsen. At Belsen, Turgel shared a barracks with the famous dying Dutch teenager Anne Frank.
When Belsen was liberated by the British, she showed a handsome young army officer, Norman Turgel, around the makeshift hospital where she worked. Within six months they were married.
But the ending of the war and her new life didn’t completely bring peace for Turgel. As with many other survivors of WWII concentration camps, the reality of the war stayed with her.
“I wear a lot of perfume,” she whispers. “The stench of the camps will always stay with me and I try to block it out.”
Turgel has been back to Auschwitz twice since her first departure. She has taken her grandsons and she believes that she lives to speak against the constant threat against Jews so that the Holocaust never happens again.
“Those people were real. They were mothers and fathers, uncles and aunts, doctors and teachers, poets, wonderful people. Composers. And now they scream in silence,” she says. “My story is only one story, but it is the story six million others cannot tell. I was, and always shall be, the witness to … mass murder.”
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