'People were exhausted, emaciated by hunger," Russian Auschwitz liberator remembers

'People were exhausted, emaciated by hunger," Russian Auschwitz liberator remembers
Copyright Euronews
By Galina PolonskayaKaty Dartford
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The extraordinary memories of a former Soviet soldier who was there on 27 January 1945.


75 years ago allied forces liberated the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz and the inhumanity of what they found changed the world forever.

Auschwitz became a symbol of the horrors of genocide, anti-Semitism and the Third Reich.

In just five years, more than a million people, most of them Jewish, were murdered there.

Today the camp still stands as a memorial, museum and education center.

Ivan Martinushkin is 96 years old and is one of the last remaining Russian soldiers who liberated Auschwitz in 1945.

"After the liberation of Krakow, we began to move deep into Polish territory, we fought all the time, the battles were literally for every village, for every high-rise, we walked all the time, and even in some places," he said.

"I remember somewhere along the Krakow highway, from Krakow to Auschwitz we were almost running one night”.

After one battle Ivan and his fellow officers passed through a village and into a vast field. They saw a long wired fence, some buildings behind it. An order came just after - not to open fire.

“We approached one group, they stood by the barracks. People were exhausted, worn to a shadow, darkened, emaciated by hunger, hollow-cheeked."

"We did not understand their language at all."

"But when we looked in their eyes we saw that they understand one thing - the hell is over."

"And we had this feeling that we brought liberation to those people."

WATCH: I__van Martinushkin_ spoke to Galina Polonskya about his experience on arrival at the camp:_

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