Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary: Survivors sit for beautiful portraits

As many as 1.5 million people are believed to have died in Auschwitz alone

On 27 January 1945, 200,000 prisoners were freed from the Auschwitz Nazi death camp by the Soviet Red Army. It is believed that around 1.5 million people were murdered at the facility in Nazi-controlled Poland, from when it opened in 1940.

To mark the 70th anniversary of their release, now elderly survivors have agreed to sit for portraits by Reuters photographers, and share a small fraction of their harrowing stories.

Jacek Nadolny

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Jacek Nadolny (Reuters)

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Jacek Nadolny holds up a wartime photo of his family.

Jacek Nadolny, 77, who was registered with camp number 192685, was seven during the Warsaw Uprising when he was sent with his family to Auschwitz-Birkenau by train. In January 1945 the family was moved to a labour camp in Berlin.

Janina Reklajtis

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Janina Reklajtis (Reuters)

Janina Reklajtis, 80, holds a photo of herself taken during WW2. Reklajtis was 12-years-old during the Warsaw Uprising when she and her mother were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau. She was registered with camp number 83043. She and her mother were later sent to a labour camp in Berlin in January 1945 and were kept there until they were liberated.

Jerzy Ulatowski

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Jerzy Ulatowski (Reuters)

Jerzy Ulatowski, 83, was taken by train to Auschwitz-Birkenau when he was 13-years-old, and registered under the number 192823. Thanks to a powercut in the barbed wire surrounding the camp in January 1945, he was able to escape with his family.

Maria Stroinska

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Maria Stroinska (Reuters)

Maria Stroinska, 82, was 12-years-old during the Warsaw Uprising when she and her sister were sent from their house to a camp in Pruszkow. She was later moved alone by train to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Danuta Bogdaniuk-Bogucka

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Danuta Bogdaniuk-Bogucka (Reuters)

Aged only 10, Danuta Bogdaniuk-Bogucka (maiden name Kaminska), 80, was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. At the camp, Josef Mengele, the now infamous German SS officer and doctor, used her in experiments. After the war, she was reunited with her mother, and they learned they had both been at Ravensbruck camp at the same time, without the other knowing.

Laszlo Bernath

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Laszlo Bernath (Reuters)

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Bernath holds up a picture of his family, who were all killed in the concentration camp during World War Two.

Laszlo Bernath, 87, credits his father being a practical man with his survival of Auschwitz. He was 15 when they were taken but his father told him to lie about his age so that they would not be separated. Even whilst in the camp, Bernath had no idea about the gas chambers.

Halina Brzozowska

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Halina Brzozowska (Reuters)

Halina Brzozowska, 82, was 12-years-old during the Warsaw Uprising when her family were sent to a camp in Pruszkow. She was registered with camp number 86356. Brzozowska and her 6-year-old sister were then moved by train to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Brzozowska said that it was hard to say what had happened to them, that they were taken from their homes, family and lost their childhood.

Jadwiga Bogucka

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Jadwiga Bogucka (Reuters)

During the Warsaw Uprising in August, 1944, Jadwiga Bogucka was 19. She and her mother were sent from their house to a camp in Pruszkow and then moved on 12 August, 1944 by train to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Now 89, Bogucka (maiden name Regulska), was registered with camp number 86356.

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