Memories from the Auschwitz’s death camp

The memory of a girl who survived the horrors of the infamous camp: From platform 21, by train from Milan to Auschwitz…


Lilijana Segre was 13 years old at the time, and besides her father Albert, another 600 people were taken by train, including her two uncles. She is one of 25 children who survived in the infamous camp in what is now Poland. A total of 766 children were taken from Milan.

The wheels of suitcases are screeching, there are murmurs, the hurried steps of passengers, and from the loudspeaker of the train station in Milan you can hear: “The train to Rome leaves in 10 minutes from platform 3”. From one platform of this magnificent station, trains do not leave. They used to. They took people away. into death.

“The journey lasted for days and it was cold. I remember there were many people on the train and there was no room. My father held me in his hands,” Liliana Segre, an Italian senator and one of the 22 survivors who were loaded by the Italian fascists on January 30, 1944, into one of the wagons that took them to the Auschwitz camp, told the BBC in Serbian.

Lilijana Segre was 13 years old at the time, and besides her father Albert, another 600 people were taken by train, including her two uncles. She is one of 25 children who survived in the infamous camp in what is now Poland. A total of 766 children were taken from Milan.

At the mention of the story of Auschwitz, her eyes freeze. “When we arrived, they tattooed me with the number 75190. I worked in a factory where ammunition was made. My father was killed immediately,” Segre tells the BBC in Serbian.

This vital woman visits the memorial center in Milan every year. While talking to the young people who came there, you can see on her face that she is happy that the new generations want to know what happened. in the Auschwitz camp.

Before she, her father, and her uncles were transferred to Auschwitz, they tried to escape to Switzerland in December 1943. However, the police caught them and took them to the San Vittore prison in Milan, where they were held for 40 days. Then, one night, they were brought to the railway station and, in transport wagons intended for the transport of goods and animals, transferred to Auschwitz.

From December 6, 1943, to January 30, 1944, Jews were brought to the station at night, during the curfew.
More than 800 people were deported from there to Auschwitz, of which only 22 survived. Among them was Liliana Segre.

Before the deportations began, every evening a van with goods would arrive at platform 21 from the main post office, which is located opposite the Milan railway station, which would then be loaded onto the train.

“That van was used to transport Jews. He would pick them up at night at San Vittore prison and take them to the station,” says Talija Biduza, director of educational programs at the Shaw Memorial Center, for the BBC in Serbian.

For decades after the war, platform 21 was an almost forgotten and neglected place. Today, visitors can enter the carriages of the train in which the Jews were transported to the camp because the memorial center was opened in 2013.

“A train car with room for seven horses could fit about seventy people,” says Deborah Gresani, an employee at the Memorial Center. Even today, there are no seats or benches in the cars. There are no windows, except for an opening above the door with bars, through which air would come in. On the walls of this terrifying place are projected the names of all the men, women, and children who have been identified – 605 of them.

The railway station, a magnificent building, was built during the reign of Mussolini. Ulize Stakini, a famous architect of that time, used white marble for construction, as a prestigious material used during the dictatorial regime, symbolizing power. When it was opened in 1931, trains with 24 platforms ran to many Italian and European cities.

From one platform, a train headed for the Nazi camp Auschwitz.

“Only in the early 1990s, the non-governmental organization Sveti Eđidio launched an initiative to open a memorial center,” Gresani told the BBC in Serbian.

“Today this is a place of remembrance, but also an educational center visited by pupils and students.” At

the beginning of 2023, the Milanese artist Aleksandar Palombo drew two murals on one of the walls of the train station in Milan, turning the Simpson family from the popular animated series of the same name into a Jewish family. during World War II. One mural shows Homer, Marge, and their children as they wait in line to board a train to Auschwitz.

Their coats are pinned to the yellow stars that Jews were forced to wear during Fascism and Nazism. Another drawing featured a family of five in camp uniforms, visibly tortured, sad, and scared faces However, that mural was destroyed in the months after it was painted.

The artist then stated that this anti-Semitic act emphasizes the danger of indifference and forgetfulness, but also hatred and racism. At the entrance to the Shoah Memorial Center, the word “Indifference” is written in large letters. That word was also chosen by Senator Segre, who dedicated her life to educating young people about the horrors of Auschwitz.

“Indifference is even more dangerous than violence.” Because when you are attacked, you know who to defend against. There is nothing scarier than when people turn their heads over the evil they witness,” says Segre.

(Antena M)

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