Virtual Talk: Iby and Trude – The Death Marches and Me
The Nazi death marches represent a chapter of history that is often forgotten or overlooked. Towards the end of the Second World War, the Nazis forced tens of thousands of prisoners deeper into German territory by whichever means possible – often on foot. These journeys took days, sometimes weeks; food was scarce; clothing was inadequate for the harsh weather conditions. Hundreds died before they could reach their destination, or before liberation by Allied troops. The impact of the death marches is still felt to this day, both by those who survived them and those whose relatives did not.
Iby Knill spent six weeks in Auschwitz-Birkenau before being transferred to a slave labour camp in Lippstadt, Germany. In mid-March 1945, the prisoners were taken on a death march towards Bergen-Belsen. Iby could hardly walk on the march due to an infection in her hip, and credits her survival to the friends who supported and, at times, literally carried her along the way. She was liberated by American soldiers in Kaunitz on Easter Sunday 1945 and moved to Britain in 1947 with her husband Bert, a British Army officer whom she married in 1946.
Trude Silman came to England from her native Bratislava (then Czechoslovakia) with her aunt and cousin at the age of nine. Her father perished in Auschwitz; her mother Else remarried during the war, perhaps in an attempt to avoid deportation as single people were often taken more quickly. Else’s mother and her husband were eventually sent to Sered’ concentration camp; they were separated when he was deported to Sachsenhausen. Trude still does not know exactly what happened to her mother, but believes she was sent on a death march to Ravensbrück in March 1945 before being forced onwards to Volary. Her search continues.
Iby and Trude will be in conversation with Tracy Craggs (Holocaust Survivors’ Friendship Association) to discuss their experiences before, during and after the Holocaust, in particular the effect that the death marches have had on their lives. This will be followed by a short Q&A.
Part of the Death Marches: Evidence and Memory series.
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