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Survivors Mark Liberation of Nazi Camps

By Matt Surman
Associated Press
Monday, April 18, 2005; Page A10

FUERSTENBERG, Germany, April 17 -- Hundreds of survivors of Nazi concentration camps on Sunday marked the liberation 60 years ago of three of the most notorious camps in the Third Reich's vast system: Ravensbrueck, Sachsenhausen and Bergen-Belsen.

Judith Sherman, 75, brought her two sons and grandchildren to Ravensbrueck so she could tell them the story of her struggle to survive.

Survivors of Nazi concentration camps gather in Sachsenhausen, Germany, to mark the 60th anniversary of the camps' liberation. (Tobias Schwarz -- Reuters)

"I think of Ravensbrueck every time I feel hungry. I think of Ravensbrueck every time I feel cold," said Sherman, of Cranbury, N.J. "Every time my grandchildren cry, I think of Ravensbrueck."

Sherman was among 300 survivors from around the world who attended the ceremony at Ravensbrueck, 60 miles north of Berlin near the town of Fuerstenberg, which gained infamy as the Nazis' camp for female prisoners, though some men also were held there.

Pierette Pierrot, a French resistance fighter, was pregnant when she was captured and imprisoned by the Nazis in 1944. Pierrot, 88, said she was able to hide her pregnancy from the Nazis with her baggy prison clothes and the help of others.

"There was a lot of friendship . . . and only through that could I keep my child," Pierrot said.

When her son, Guy, was born March 11, 1945, in the camp, she had to lean even more on others -- including a German camp nurse who knew her secret.

A month later, as the Third Reich crumbled, the SS allowed the Red Cross to evacuate 7,500 prisoners to Sweden.

Pierrot was one of those chosen to go and remembers bundling her son up in rags and stuffing him under a seat to smuggle him out with her. "I only really felt saved when we made it to Denmark," said Pierrot, whose son came with her for the ceremonies.

From 1939 to 1945, at least 132,000 women and children and 20,000 men were deported to Ravensbrueck, where tens of thousands died from hunger, disease, exhaustion or medical experiments. Six thousand prisoners were killed in a gas chamber built at the end of 1944.

Sachsenhausen, near Berlin, was liberated on April 22, 1945, by the Soviet army. One of the first Nazi concentration camps, it was initially meant mainly for political prisoners.

Bergen-Belsen, near Hanover, had by 1945 become a holding pen for the weak and sick. It was liberated on April 15, 1945.

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