A Painful Reunion
In 1995, marking the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, two groups of people gathered in the country of Poland to remember a nightmare.
On January 27, Jews from all over the world came together with a group of Polish people at a place called Auschwitz (OW-shvitz). It was the site of a Nazi prison where they had been held captive during the war. The two groups commemorated the day 50 years ago when soldiers from the Soviet Union set them free.
Auschwitz was one of more than 25 Nazi prisons called "concentration camps." In these brutal camps, people were killed or forced to work until they died. Most of the prisoners were Jews. But there were also other peoples, including Poles, Gypsies, blacks, and the disabled. They were imprisoned as part of Adolph Hitler's plan to get rid of European peoples he did not like.
Beginning in 1940, millions of innocent victims were rounded up and shipped to the camps. Once there, husbands were separated from wives. Children were taken from their parents. People who were weak or sick were immediately executed. Thousands more starved or died of diseases.
By the end of the war, about six million Jews and millions of other people had died in what later became known as the "Holocaust."
Fifty years after being freed from Auschwitz, writer Elie Wiesel (EE-lee vee-ZEHL) returned to Poland. "That day and night," wrote Wiesel, "the last I spent in Auschwitz, haunt me even now."
Read About It
- We Remember the Holocaust by David Adler (Henry Holt, 1989)
- Daniel's Story by Carol Matas (Scholastic, 1993)