Stories of survivors are the most powerful part of the Auschwitz commemorations. Some have told their stories for years and others are only just beginning to share. One survivor recounts how love might have kept him alive.
It has been 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz, the Nazi concentration camp where more than a million people were exterminated. Yet the memories of survivors remain fresh and vivid. Belgian Paul Sobol says he still feels numb, and continues to experiences the horrors of Auschwitz.
"I am thinking especially of those who have disappeared from my family. Because, you know, I didn't even kiss my mum."
During the winter of 1944, as allied forces closed in, the Nazis ordered the evacuation of the camps. The Jewish prisoners were forced to leave Auschwitz, and march to Germany. Historians refer to this evacuation as death marches because Nazi officers were ordered to kill those who could no longer walk. Paul Sobol managed to survive his death march, But his ordeal continued when his group was put on a train.
"100-110 by wagon. We were standing, tight against each other. We didn't know how long we were going to stay. Actually we stayed in these cars for 6 days. When the trains stopped, finally, they opened the doors, and from my wagon only 20 or 25 people were still alive."
Sobol says it was love that had kept him alive. Before his arrest in June 1944 in Brussels, his girlfriend had managed to give him a package of food, along with a photo of her. He hid it and held on to the the picture of the woman who would later become his wife.
"I folded it in 8 and I kept it in my right fist, because we had to undress naked, leave all our civilian clothes, and then enter this building where they were going to transform us into convicts."
Today, Sobol shares his story of surviving the Holocaust with students, in the hope preventing further atrocities.