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Page last updated at 15:00 GMT, Wednesday, 27 January 2010
Holocaust survivor's concentration camp rescue

Zdenka said she was like a living corpse by the time she was rescued

A survivor of the Holocaust has been speaking in Newcastle about her heart-felt desire to thank the British soldier who saved her life.

Zdenka Fantlová was a young woman when she was transported to Auschwitz concentration camp by the Nazis.

She was taken to several different camps during the war and in 1945 was close to dying in Bergen-Belsen when a soldier disobeyed orders to save her.

She's dedicated a book about her story to him hoping it will help find him.

The Tin Ring is published by Northumbria University Press and was launched on 27 January to tie in with Holocaust Memorial Day 2010.

He was sending me back to my block... and I asked him if he can't take me out would he please shoot me
Zdenka Fantlová

Zdenka also spoke about her life at an event at the Journal Tyne Theatre in Newcastle.


Zdenka said it must have been an extreme shock for the liberating soldiers as they were faced with "real hell" at Bergen-Belsen.

She said: "There were 20,000 corpse lying around... these were bones and skin in heaps... some of them were still breathing, and that was me.

"I was still breathing and I was one of the corpses [ready] to go any minute."

Zdenka said she was lucky because she had learned English and so could communicate with the soldier who came near her.

"He was sending me back to my block... and I asked him if he can't take me out would he please shoot me."

Zdenka said she wishes she could thank the unknown soldier

"And he changed his face... and there was the human face behind it and he said 'Just stay here and I'll come and get you in the morning.'"

Say thank you

The soldier kept his word and the next day returned with an ambulance bearing an extra stretcher to take her away - breaking the rules to save her.

Zdenka said that although she had nothing when she was liberated she felt like she had won $2m.

Ever since that day Zdenka has wanted to thank him.

Now in her 80s, she hopes that by dedicating The Tin Ring to the unknown soldier he - or his family - might get in touch.

So what would she say to him?

"I don't know," she said. "What can you say?

"Embrace him and kiss him and say 'What can I do for you?' - and say thank you."

More stories

Ziggy Shipper
Mr Shipper urged the students not to feel hate in their lives

Holocaust survivor Ziggy Shipper visited a Newcastle school to talk to students about his experiences.

He was 14 when he was sent to Auschwitz concentration camp and told the students he felt "lucky" to have survived.

Read more about Ziggy Shipper here:

You can also find out more on the Holocaust Memorial Day website.

Holocaust survivor feels 'lucky'
14 Jan 10 |  Religion & Ethics



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