tv CNN Special Report CNN January 28, 2015 6:00pm-7:01pm PST
they created after the war. such an inspiration to hear these stories. and i'm so proud that we all put it together. it's really, really powerful. >> i urge people to watch it. wolf blitzer, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> that does it for us. we'll see you again at 11:00 p.m. eastern for another edition of "360." please watch "voices of auschwitz" starting right now. the following is a cnn special report. these gates market the site of one of history's greatest horrors. >> we are in the biggest cemetery of the world here. >> during the holocaust, more than one million jews were murdered here at auschwitz. >> my aunts, uncles, everybody's dead now. >> part of hitler's plan to wipe out the jewish people. >> we saw my mother.
she went straight to the
gas chamber. >> liberated 70 years ago, only a fraction of the prisoners survived. >> i was crawling on the barrack floor because i couldn't walk. >> beaten but not broken. >> the real story is what i accomplished there. >> these are the stories that must never be forgotten. these are the "the voices of auschwitz." ♪ i am a survivor of auschwitz. ♪ >> we lived in a tiny village that's not even on the map. had 100 families.
>> i was the first born.
so i was very special there. >> i had two sisters, there were three girls. it was a very happy childhood. >> my home. my father had a very good business. he had men's tailoring and textiles. >> culture was written in very big letters in my family. the classics, german classics were read to us on sundays. everybody had to learn an instrument. we were the typical german jewish family. >> we were -- as a child i never experienced anything -- it was a wonderful childhood.
>> it all very gradual. you see, i never knew that it a problem to be jewish. i must have 8 years old, i was wiping the blackboard and somebody said, "the don't give the jew the sponge." what the hell is going on here? >> because we were concerned, my father ran a battery operated radio. i remember hearing hitler's voice. he was always yelling. i would ask my parents, who is hitler, and why is he yelling and saying that he will kill all the jews? and most of my parents -- mostly my parents said, don't worry, the nazis won't come here. >> if it had been less gradual, my father would have been more conscious to get out of here.
>> its 1944, mid-march. >> it was passover. >> they came on horses with food and clothing. >> they surrounded the house. they gave us one hour. >> all the villagers lined the streets. not one single one of them, not even my best friend, said they were sorry. >> every jew was on the street. we had to walk 14 kilometers to the train station. >> we were loaded on to the cattle cars.
there was silence through the whole journey. they don't give us any food or any water. >> there was no bathrooms, nothing. >> there was a bucket, an empty bucket in the corner. 100 people were packed in the cattle car. >> they didn't open up for nothing. >> it would become more like a nightmare that you were fading in and out of it. >> we didn't realize that the journey for the last three days. we were picking up jews. the end of the third day, the train stopped. i heard %djúlatches. the doors opened. the crowd was pushing as they
swimming pool. this was taken only a few months before we were deported. they always played music. and they played the song "it's now or never." and even today when i hear that so song, how i didn't know that it's now or never. ♪ >> the first thing we heard was the loud speakers that were telling us to leave our suitcases at the railroad station.
my sister was telling me, wait for mother and dad. that's when i look around and realized that i will never find them. it was impossible. when they were loading the trucks, we saw my manager. she went straight to the gas chambers. about three days later when a group of men were marching, i recognized my father. i saw him in the striped uniform with the shaved head, and i was trying to hide from him. i didn't want him to see us, my sister and i with shaved heads
in a rag. you but as he walked, our eyes locked. i saw him crying. and i was crying. and at that point we knew that something terrible has happened to us. that was really the first time that i realized that this is a hopeless situation. i was worried about my sister because she was skinny and tall. and so young -- especially when we were separated. every morning we will see each other and say, i'm still here, don't worry. i'm still here. then she didn't come the second
day and the third district attorney. and then i knew she -- third day. and then i knew she must have taken away. every day i thought it will end soon, don't worry. it will end soon. i went into the kitchen, and the head kitchen maid was a girl from my hometown. she knew that i was studying to be a designer. she says to me, "renee, we don't need you you to peel potatoes. i'll givet:nr you some paper an pencil, and why don't you draw some pictures for us of gowns that we will be wearing if we survive and we'll go to a new year's eve party." >> i said -- and i was drawing. everybody was looking, coming over and talking about it, and
having a little fun really. we didn't notice that the commander frauline is on her way to the kitchen. the kitchen door opens, and the fraulein walks in. everybody jumps up, achtung, and these pictures are flying all over the kitchen. she bend down, picks up one of these pictures, looks at it and yells, "who made this?" and i said, "i did." she says, "follow me." rumors are in the camp that i was going to be shot. she takes me to her apartment. in the closet is a sewing machine. she picks one of the pictures and says to me, "can you make this?" i never made a garment in my life, but of course, i will. of course i can make it.
what am i going to say i can't? a few days later, the camp is liberated, and i didn't have to finish the gown, fortunately. the russian soldiers ride in, and he tells us that the war is over. this officer jumps off that horse, comes around to women, starts hugging them, kissing them, and cries. then he stand up in the middle of these women, and he beats his chest. and he yells to us -- [ speaking german ] i'm also a jew. and we all start crying.
y yes, that was our liberation. that was probably the worst time of my life wondering did any of my parents survive, did my sister survive or even my brother -- where is he, where am i going. we were roaming around europe, hitchhiking, and in budapest we found out that there is a school where survivors come and sign in so that those who are looking for somebody may find somebody. and -- somebody on those lists. i was there for the whole day and found nobody. on the way out, there was a swinging door. i pushed on the door to leave,
and somebody was pushing from the other side. so i stepped back, and the door opened. and my brother was there. we settled in prague and started an industry. my brother was an artist. we bought some silk parachutes and made circular skirts. my brother painted on them, and we were selling them. we made a lot of money. we arrived to america. life started all over again. i was a successful fashion designer here. i'm still here 70 years later. i am in awe and in shock and in amaze. that i'm still here.
i really never thought of revenge. there snis no other revenge. auschwitz, i wake up with it. i go to bed with it. my name is renee firestone, and i am an auschwitz survivor. the story that shapes me as a person is my father. he said if we don't survive, you honor us by living. >> nice, right? >> good. if hiring plumbers, cars and even piano tuners were just as simple? thanks to angie's list, now it is. we've made hiring anyone from a handyman
and i survived auschwitz, and i'm happy about it. you see the gates to get into the camp. you see the guys who come to help get us off the prisoners and the stripes, and they were not talking to us. i was still a kid, you know. they showered us, and they gave us the stripes. they gave us some kind of shoe, no socks, no underwear. nothing. then my father and i got tattooed together. and then my father sat down with me, and he said, "you are strong. i'm strong. we're both going survive. you got discipline. you learn thing. we taught you how to survive,
how to live." when i got to auschwitz, they put me in the tailor shop. i wanted to build cars. i was a grease monkey. i didn't know anything about tailoring. i was a kid. a tailor, i could speak to -- he spoke jewish. i said to him, what should i do here? he says, well, you could wash the shirt for the gestapo. he said, take a brush and take soap, and rub it until it's clean. it was so dirty that i kept on rubbing it until it -- it ripped up. he says, there's a problem, he says, because tomorrow he's coming for the shirt. so i said, what can i do? i'm going to show him it's ripped. he wasn't too mahappy about it. who ripped the shirt? i said me. he gave me a little beating, but he threw the shirt at the me.
so then i asked the tailor, can you show me how to fix the collar so i could have a shirt? nobody has a shirt. he says, i'll fix you a shirt. so i put it on. guess what -- i ripped another shirt. i got beaten up for another shirt. had two shirts. and those shirts i used to shower in, i used to wear them and nobody ever stoppeded me. i was at the march when the russians were coming. 10,000 people started, 500 of us alive. i was one of them. i don't know if it was the shirt -- it made me feel warmer because i had something. and it taught me something, how person it is to be dressed right. i had a big influence on me.
i came here with with barely $10 i started here for $35 a week, but i wanted to learn everything perfectly. all my teachers who taught me here, tailors and everybody. i always wanted to be better than them. we make very special handmade clothing. the people that i dress, the president s going back to eisenhower, the mayor bloomberg who retired. clinton. and they try on my suit that we measure here -- >> nice, right? >> -- they don't recognize themselves. when i came to work here, i had to do it the right way, everything. that's why i became what i am.
all my australians and uncles -- my aunts and uncles, everybody's dead now. i never went to any funerals of my family because when you don't see them, you never believe that they die. they never touched anybody. they only helped other people. why would they die? it's inconceivable. that is my biggest problem. but it's not a problem for me because i will never forget them. the story that shapes me as a
person is my father because before we were separated, he said if we don't survive, you honor us by living. á"t) rj great. i have a new family. i have four grandchildren. my two sons work with me. i'm happy. how could you not be happy when you have your sons working with you? my hope i, wo could work until 100 because i have the energy. and if god keeps me here at the that time and my head works, then i'll be here.
>> the last time you saw your mother was right here on this platform. >> all i remember is seeing her arms stretched out as she was pulled away. next. ♪ expected wait time: 55 minutes. your call is important to us. thank you for your patience. waiter! vo: in the nation, we know how it feels when you aren't treated like a priority.
car door slid open. thousands of people poured out. the biggest confusion that i have ever remembered -- yelling, screaming, dogs barking, people looking for one another. >> when you heard them screaming in german -- [ speaking german ] >> -- thought what? >> i was only 10-years-old. i looked around trying to figure out what on earth is this place. my mother grabbed my twin sister and me as we stood here on this platform 70 years ago. we were holding on to mother, and nazi of yelling in german "twins." he noticed miriam and i because we were dressed alike and looked very much alike. he demanded to know from my mother if we were we are twins. my mother asked is it good? the nazi nodded yes, and my mother said yes.
that moment another nazi came, pulled my motherhwéh the right f me. we were pulled to the left. all i remember is seeing her arms stretched out as she was pulled away. our processing began late in the afternoon, and i decided to give them as much trouble as a 10-year-old could. four people restrained me. two nazi and two prisoners. when they dipped my arm in ink, it never came out clear because i was not a very cooperating victim. i beat the nazi holding my arm.
this was my home for most of the time i was here, almost nine months. as the barrack was filthy and about 2 hundred, 300 children. and miriam and i were given a bunkbed on the bottom. one of the biggest problems we had was the rats. they were good nazi rats. [ whistle ] >> we would be awakened in the morning at 5:00 a.m. with a shrieking sound of a whistle. m us every morning. he wanted to know how many we used to be brought here three times a week. there were bench, or we would stan. about 100 kids at the time for eight hours, naked.
they will measure just about every part of my body. compare it to my twin sister and then compare it to charts. measuring, comparing, measuring, comparing. >> and they drew a lot of your blood. >> at least two vials, and sometimes more. from my left arm. give me a minimum of five injections into my right arm. how i didn't find i don't know. -- didn't faint i don't know. i tried to hide the fact that i was ill because the rumor in the camp was that anyone taken to the hospital never came back. they measured my fever, and i knew i was in trouble. i was immediately taken to the hospital. it was filled with people who looked more dead than alive. next morning, dr. mengele and
four other doctors came, and then he began laughing sarcastically and saying, "the too bad. she's so young. she has only two weeks to live." for the next two weeks, i remember only one memory. i was crawling on the barrack floor because i couldn't walk. i would fade in and out of consciousness. and even in a semi conscious state of mind, i kept telling myself, i must survive. i must survive. it was late in the afternoon of january 27, 1945. 9==91ñ and somebody -- a saturday afternoon, and somebody had a watch because i clearly remember seeing it was 4:30. a woman ran into the barrack and
began yelling at the top of her voice, "we are free! we are free!" they were smiling from ear to ear. and the most person thing for me was that they didn't look like the nazis. the most dramatic part of the children marching between the two rows of barbed wires. they gave us chocolate and hugs. this was my first taste of freedom. how miriam anden -- i ended occupy the front i do not know. i did not remember that we were in the front. it's iconic. i recognize myself. >> and now 70 years later,
you're here. >> i am here, and i can tell the story. i discovered that i survivor of auschwitz and mengel's experiment. i had the power to forgive. i am not possessed by anger and fear. i can rise above it. and to me, that is the ultimate victory. my name is eva moses kor. i am a survivor of auschwitz. >> we were a sort of showpiece. if anybody came to visit the camp, they didn't show the gas chambers. they amy show us.
keep something from home when things were still good. that was my doll. she men ever -- meant everything to me. >> seeing the doll for the first time, was a wow moment. it's there. i can see what she's been through. my name is danielle. i was inspired by inga's story. inga's doll made the history of the holocaust something i could relate to. >> very, very important to have these artifacts. to give proof to the world and for centuries to come, it happened.
my name is anita lasker-walfisch. i'm a survivor of auschwitz. we arrived at night. and we waited all night in the- dark. and the next morning came the situation which in a way saved my life because of various prisoners do the tattooing and shaving of hair, et cetera. and the girl who was doing me, she asked me what i was doing before the war. i said, i used to play the cello, you know. seems completely ridiculous thing to say in auschwitz. i played the cello. fantastic, she said. you'll be saved. i was naked, without hair. i had a toothbrush in my hand.
that was already a great privilege. she must have slip me a toothbrush. a toothbrush was fantastic. and then they came -- i didn't understand anything because she was quite well dressed. and we had a conversation about cello playing. where did you study? you cannot imagine a more unbelievable situation. she said, fantastic because we haven't got a cello in the orchestra. the orchestra of just being created. and everybody who, play anything, you know, a little bit of mandolin, violin. it was a peculiar collection -- there were five people who could play instruments. the rest of people were trying to be saved into this so-called temporary survival possibility. she said, you have to go quarantine, but we'll fetch you
for the music block. then you'll play. now i was in this quarantine block, for god sake. that was really terrible. i mean, not many people got out of there. then they fetched me. there's a cellist. i haven't played the cello for two years or something. said, excuse me -- i must see whether i can still move my fingers. look, i wasn't particularly frightened not to pass the audition. i was the savior. they didn't have a low note in the orchestra. ♪ >> every camp had some sort of band, you know. but we were the only one really that consisted of complete ly o us more or less. then there was alma. very, very strict. almost more afraid of her than the s.s. she somehow managed to, i think, let us be more afraid of what we were doing than looking out the window and
seeing the smoke. it was a sort of complete escape mechanism. i can't remember what we sounded like, but some people said we weren't too bad. ♪ >> "march militaire" by shubert. i can hear it now. we were a showpiece, you know. if anybody came to visit, they didn't show the gas chambers. they amy show us. we were the showpiece. we would think it's not so bad here. there were people who thought it was wonderful to just shut your eyes and forget where you are. ♪ >> and there are people who find it very offensive. music here, we are the biggest cemetery of the world here. without graves, you know?
my whole life seems to consist of the most unbelievable coincidence like with the shoes that i had when i was still a normal person. i had a pair of pigskin shoes which were light leather. we dyed them black, put red laces in and put very big pom-poms the end of the laces. and i had these shoes in auschwitz and then comes the situation with the girl who tattoos me asked me what i did before the war. then she saw my shoes, the girl who tattooed me. she said, look, you lose your shoes, give them to me. i can -- i can use them. and when my sister arrived, by sheer coincidence, the same girl and the shoes were still there. she said, i know these shoes. yeah, they belong to a girl. she's in the orchestra now. that's my sister. the girl who did this came running to my block and said, "come quick, your sister is
here." that's how we met again. and then suddenly one day, we were put on a train and sent away. we didn't think that we will survive because belsyn was completely different from auschwitz. there was nothing there. you just waited to die. that's all. but the feeling to actually go away from auschwitz was fantastic. we're going away from here. i mean, you couldn't -- we didn't care where we were going, as long we were going away from this unspeakable hell. >> the war in europe has ended. the hour for which the world has spent six years waiting has come. >> it was an unbelievable moment, the liberation. when we saw the first british
uniform -- oh, my god. there are soldiers who don't we ju we thought that we were dreaming. oh, no, it was british uniforms that we were seeing. and then came the terrible realization that we were doing now. and what do we do now, and what do we do now? my parents are dead. i came to england and of course my only idea was to catch up with eight years that i have lost and become a musician. and i was lucky that i met a lot of very good musicians, and so eventually we got a date with the bbc and eventually, you know, more and more international, and then became the english orchestra. this is where i belonged some w
somehow. i never really accepted that somebody has the right to murder me, because i happen to be jewish. forgive, how can i forgive? it is not for me. but i can go on. so survival was complete luck. i was very lucky to live. >> when i walked down the rail line to where the cream toirm was, i felt the ghosts. i just felt the ghosts.
auschwitz haunts me to this day. it is one of the killing machines that anyone has experienced to this day. >> walking these grounds changed steven spielberg's life as it did mine. i i walked under that sign, and then went to the crematorium, and it was a powerful, powerful moment. >> the second time i went to the auschwitz with my wife, a rabbi took us, and we said a prayer.
he asked me to come over near where the remains of the crematorium was, and he said you could put your hand near a mud hole. it had been soggy because it had been raining. i brought my hand out, and will was a white bone meal all over my hands, because the remains of everyone over the years of mass murder rained back down on to earth -- excuse me -- and they are still there. that is something i will take to my grave. >> despite all of your brilliant films, you have said that this is your calling. >> i think it is. i didn't know it was my calling until "schindler's list" came to into my life. we invited some of the survivors
into poland to shoot some of the scenes that were being portrayed by actors. one of the survivors came over to me, and said to me, i have a very, very big story to tell you, and all i am asking from you is, do you have a tape recorder that you can turn on so that you can remember my words, so that my words can be somewhere in perpetuity, and when she said that to me somewhere, i realized that it is more than something of a movie, but it was a foot in the door to open up these testimonies, and to disseminate them the all over the world, encouraging very courageous survivors to tell us their stories. >> in the middle of each cattle car was a bucket. >> and we were running out to the fence where we were locked in. >> she was wounded, so they kill her right on the spot. >> death was all around. >> it has a special meaning to you, and not only as a
filmmaker, but as a person and also as a jew. >> yes, this is my renewal as a jew. this entire experience of directing "schindler's list" and then founding the visual histories of foundation, and that we have 50,553 heroes in the visual archive. >> we hear from four auschwitz survivors. anita was a cellist, a young girl. martin was a tailor. renee was a design mer tgner in makings. eva was a 10-year-old little girl when she was brought to auschwitz, and why did they survive while others died. just to say luck is not enough. it was more than that. >> these survivors somehow hung on te nnaciously to life.
somehow they made it out despite disease, murder and they have lived productive and inspired lives. >> unfortunately the number of survivors out there is dwindling. >> yes, and that is why the commemoration of the liberation of auschwitz is so important. there are not going to be enough survivors for the 75th commemoration. this is the last significant commemoration of the worst atrocity in i believe human history, but their stories are going to live on. >> my name is eva. >> i'm lawton greenfield. >> i'm anita lawton. >> i'm anita firestone. >> i believe that everybody who has given their testimony are teachers in perpetuity. >> i'm a survivor. >> i'm a survivor of auschwitz. >> auschwitz.
>> auschwitz, and i'm happy to >> auschwitz, and i'm happy to be here with you. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com well, that was a very powerful, and moving hour by cnn's wolf blitzer there. tonight on this broadcast, terror threats at home and abroad and fears that the super bowl could be a target. and desperate attempts to save a journalist held by isis with time running out. and the bombshell of the murder trial of expatriot aaron hernandez in the wake of everything on the nfl's record of vie leps to the circuit of deflategate and with the super bowl around the corner, can the league solve its image problem? >> and adding insult to injury, moreno