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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 July, 2004, 17:04 GMT 18:04 UK
'Why we must not forget the Holocaust'
A Holocaust survivor tells BBC News Online how he believes the event should be remembered, following the announcement that London will host next year's fifth National Holocaust Memorial Day.

Freddie Knoller
Happier times... but Knoller says the Holocaust must not be forgotten
When Freddie Knoller walked free from the Belsen-Bergen concentration camp on 15 April 1945 he swore he would tell the world about what he saw.

He would tell them about the gassings of babies and women, the executions of fellow slave labourers and the 1,000 people he was transported to Auschwitz with, of whom only 13 survived.

At age 83 is he is doing just that, although it was certainly not easy in the beginning.

"This is a unique event where a government by law wanted to exterminate a people.

"I hope the second and third generation of survivors will continue telling the world about what happened."

The 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau camp on 27 January next year should be "remembered globally," he says.


Mr Knoller had ended up at Auschwitz via Paris' red light district and "thanks" to a girlfriend who handed him over to the Gestapo.

Deported from Vienna to France, he found work in Paris as a young man securing prostitutes for the German soldiers.

Freddie Knoller
As a young man Knoller arranged prostitutes for German soldiers

It was dangerous work, even though he had false papers.

If ever he was asked about his accent, he would tell them he was from Alsace-Lorraine, near the German border.

"I would tell them: 'I am happy to have you here in my country'. It was all fairy tales."

He eventually won their confidence but it backfired: the Germans asked him to work for them as an interpreter.

He fled Paris to join the French resistance.

"I met a young girl who I thought I was in love with but we fought. I told her I wanted her to have nothing to do with me.

"She then handed me over. She knew where in the hills I was staying."

Book published

There began a terrible period - slave labour, killings, gassings and forced marches. He kept silent about those years for three decades.

It was only when his two teenage daughters in England, where he owned a raincoat business, asked him to talk that he opened up.

Freddie Knoller
He was shipped off to a camp after an argument with a girlfriend
"They had seen the number 157103 on my arm and said to me: 'if we have children, what are we going to tell them about you?'"

Now he says he cannot stop talking.

He has written a book about his experiences, titled Desperate Journey and regularly gives talks in schools.

"People should know about it. It's a different thing to read history which has been watered down."

He says only by remembering the Holocaust, we can prevent such an atrocity from happening again.

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