Sant'Egidio Global Friendship meeting in Krakow

“No memory, no future”: Sant’Egidio invites youth to build “global friendship” for peace

“To understand the reality of war by going to visit Auschwitz and Birkenau to understand our own mission to build peace in the world” are the first steps of the meeting “A Global friendship to live together in peace”, opened by the greetings of Hilde Kieboom, Vice-President of Sant ‘Egidio followed by the lecture of the Historian Luca Riccardi.

1,000 young people of the Youth for Peace movement, gathered in Krakow until Sunday, listened carefully the words of Lidia Maksymowicz, deported as a child to Auschwitz-Birkenau: she was just three years old.

She spent three years in the “children block” of the camp where she underwent several medical horrible experiments – such as the inoculation of viruses and saline solution – carried out by Dr. Mengele, of whom she remembers his polished boots and his possessed look.

Of her imprisonment, she clearly remembers the hunger, the lice, the feelings terror of all the children at the arrival of the doctors, the roll call in which they were called with the numbers they had tattooed on their arm.

The missing numbers – no one was called by their name – were replaced with the latest arrivals, who shared with the other prisoners the fate of facing the Polish cold in the shacks and the ruthlessness of the SS.

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When the Red Army freed the camp she has been welcomed by a Polish family from Oświęcim, a city not so far away from Auschwitz. For the first time the inhabitants of the city saw the faces of the prisoners of that field from which came the terrible smell of that smoke extending for tens of kilometers; and for the first time Lidia, still a child, saw a house, with a bed, sheets and a kitchen.

Lidia choose to tell her story to many young people, even if the memory of Auschwitz makes her suffer reopening painful wounds. “At the beginning, telling my story has been difficult. Now it helps me and I hope it helps you to better understand what you will see tomorrow by visiting the camp.”

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(Sant’Egidio)

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