Auschwitz survivors share memories in new documentary

At the end of each workday, the concentration camp prisoners usually stood in a straight line to be counted.

One day, however, they were told to form a square. Guards had captured two girls trying to escape. They were to be hanged.

The prisoners had to watch.

"The girls came out carrying the stools they were to stand on," Sonia Warshawski recalled recently. "One of them yelled out to us, 'Never forget.' "

For decades, remembering her Holocaust experiences wasn't the issue for Warshawski, who endured stays at several camps as a teenager during World War II. The challenge came in being able to tell others.

That's changed now.

Warshawski is one of 12 Kansas City area survivors of the Auschwitz camp complex in Poland to detail her experiences in a new documentary. To observe the 65th anniversary of the camp's 1945 liberation, the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education will screen the documentary, "Auschwitz," for its members on Wednesday.

The film's completion gladdens Warshawski, today one of a small number of area survivors both willing and able to detail her experiences for school and church groups.

"I feel a responsibility to speak for the ones who didn't make it," said Warshawski, 84. "The most important thing is not to forget and not to remain silent."

The new "Auschwitz" film is part of a larger effort to make mid-1990s videotaped testimony of Kansas City area Holocaust survivors, refugees and witnesses more accessible to area students and educators.

The videotapes were created as one of the first efforts of the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education.

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