Birthdate: 1 Jan 1935

Place: Budapest, Hungary

Even as a little boy in his native Hungary, Ben remembers the increase of intolerance towards Jews in the 1930s. In 1944 the Nazis took his father away and his mother sent Ben to what she hoped would be the safety of a catholic boarding school at Estergom. That safety proved to illusive as the Jewish children there were lined up and taken away. Aware of the dangers Ben originally stayed behind but one of the nun teachers identified him, saying "step forward you little Jew boy". 

Ben was deported to Auschwitz camp, by himself, and befriended a lady in her thirties on the train who looked after him. Too young for hard slave labour, Ben was “saved” from the gas chamber when he was chosen as a subject for medical experiments by SS camp doctors. He had his head shaved and was forced to endure being subjected to experiments, operations, chemicals and drugs. A kindly matron who tried to look after him was shot in front of him as she tried to stop a camp officer from beating him.

Ben was liberated by the Russians. Miraculously his parents had also survived. Ten years later, living in soviet-controlled Budapest, Ben was involved in student protests and had to flee the country, arriving in New Zealand and settling in Auckland.

Auschwitz Medical Experiments

Explore this theme further: Genocide & The Camps

The establishment and operation of concentration camps or Konzentrationslager followed through a number of stages. From 1933 onwards already, four concentration camps had been set up: Dachau (near Munich), Oranienburg (on the outskirts of Berlin), Ravensbrück (north of Berlin), and Buchenwald (Thuringia). They were used to incarcerate the Jewish opposition, political dissidents, and anyone who criticised the National Socialist government... >> more