NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — They were eyewitnesses to some of the darkest sins humans have ever committed on others. A group of heroes gathered at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Monday on their way to visit the concentration camps they liberated 67 years ago.
CBS 2′s Don Dahler went to hear their stories and met one of the people they rescued.
The greatest generation is fading away with time, but what the veterans that came together Monday want to make sure is that their memories don’t.
“One of the first memories I have is seeing these bodies piled one on top of the other like, like wood,” said concentration camp liberator Beryl Wolfson.
To ensure the evils are never forgotten, the veterans took a journey to the places where their lives were forever linked.
Most of the Holocaust survivors still alive today were children in the concentration camps. Irving Roth was only 14 when he stepped off the cattle car at Auschwitz.
“What I saw were guards, sub-machine guns, dogs and in the distance, I see flames coming out of chimneys. The combination of those two things were very frightening,” Roth said.
By the time the Williston Park, Long Island native was transferred to Buchenwald, he weighed 75 pounds and had seen enough horrors to last many lifetimes. But it was a spring day in 1945 when he knew he would survive.
“The 11th of April by 11 o’clock, every single guard, every single person in uniform disappeared and at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, three American soldiers walked into our building,” Roth said.
Rick Carrier, who now lives in Chelsea, was the man who blew the lock off Buchenwald’s gate. What he remembers most are the children, like Irving Roth.
“Irving was one of these kids, and he was one of the ones who were there,” Carrier said.
Liberator and survivor were finally reunited many decades later.
“I simply told him, before anything else, I said, ‘Thank you. You have given me life,’” Roth said.
“It was a moment of absolute joy and it was a moment of communication that you can never beat. That kind of communication is a life itself. It’s the beauty of life and the beauty of living life,” Carrier added.
Roth and Carrier are taking part in the 25th annual “March of the Living,” traveling to Holocaust sites in Poland with some 10,000 students from around the world to pass along what they saw and experienced, so that no one will ever forget.
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