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‘Never forget’: Preserving stories of the Holocaust as fewer survivors remain

On Jan. 27, 1945, Auschwitz was liberated.

By then, the concentration camp — the largest operated by Nazi Germany — saw the killings of more than 1.1 million people. Those taken to the camp also experienced other dire situations, being starved, forced into harsh labour and used for medical experiments.

Living conditions were harsh. Ten people shared the wooden planks that served as beds. The prisoners never bathed, lice were rampant and many contracted typhus.

Since the liberation of Auschwitz 75 years ago, and the end of the Holocaust months later, survivors have told their harrowing tales.

Among them are Howard and Nancy Kleinberg, two Canadians who met as teenagers in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, which was liberated in April 1945.

“It was nothing but a death camp. There was no food, people were dying every second, there was no sanitation. We slept on the floor,” Nancy told Global News of Bergen-Belsen.

Nancy said the eventual liberation was “bittersweet,” because she was left with the daunting task of rebuilding her life.

But she did end up rebuilding her life — with Howard by her side — in Toronto after they reunited. The couple went on to get married, have four children and then grandchildren.

They’re still together.

It’s a remarkable story, and just one of many told by survivors of the Holocaust.

But listening to those stories firsthand is becoming more difficult more than seven decades after the end of the Second World War.

Bernie Farber, the char of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network and the former head of the Canadian Jewish Congress, explained those still alive today were children at the time of the Holocaust.

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