09 January 2020, The Tablet

Dispatches from hell


Dispatches from hell

The fence at Auschwitz concentration camp
Photo: PA/DPA

 

Last Stop Auschwitz: My Story of Survival
EDDY DE WIND
(DOUBLEDAY, 272 PP, £14.99)
Tablet bookshop price £13.49 • Tel 020 7799 4064

Almost exactly 75 years ago, the Russian Red Army arrived to liberate Auschwitz. Most of its surviving ­prisoners had already been dispatched on the forced marches through the deep Polish winter that would see so many of them die. But the ones who remained, those near death, those too emaciated to walk, those in the final stages of typhoid and starvation, many of whom would also die in the weeks to come, were enough to make the Allies begin to ­comprehend the full horror of the Nazi ­extermination plans.

Among those living still in the camp were a small number of men and women who had somehow managed to hide and avoid the final slaughter by the SS as they pulled out. One of these was Eddy de Wind, the last Jewish doctor to graduate from Leiden University in the Netherlands as war broke out. Eddy had volunteered to work at the labour camp of Westerbork on the false promise that it would save his mother – who had been sent there earlier – from deportation to the east. She was in fact put on to one of the weekly trains to Auschwitz, carrying 1,000 inmates at a time, a few days before his arrival.

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