"when we are liberated we are going to be dancing, and kissing"
Edith Birkin



image of liberation

"It was filth, and lice, and smell, and death around you, and you just waited for the end of the war really, that is what we were doing. One day we were standing, standing, and no Germans came, and then we found out that all the Germans had gone. A couple of days or so later the British came. The tanks started rolling down the… sort of like a main road, but I was so weak I couldn't even go to greet them; most of us couldn't go to greet them, because we were so weak and tired. I was so pleased I could just lie down and sleep. We were always imagining that when we are liberated we are going to be dancing, and kissing them - and I don't think they wanted to be kissed by us to be honest! We didn't think of it that way, we didn't think we were so dreadful you know, but to them we looked absolutely awful of course. And we're going to embrace them, and… be happy, and dance, and God knows what, but all we wanted to do was to lie down and be allowed to be ill.

But I must say it was absolutely marvellous. We got… they came with great big tankers of water; that's what we needed more than anything was good water. Food. Luckily, I think it was more luck than sense, they gave us the right sort of food. My very first food was tinned creamed macaroni, you know the one in the tins, and that was heaven. And every day on liberation day I feed my family this tinned macaroni, the poor things got to eat it! But you know, a friend of ours who used to be with us when we were marching, we used to share everything, and then she got this food, this packet of sugar, she just sat there and ate this whole packet of sugar, and other things that the soldier gave her, and she died. The British got these carts with Germans inside them; they had to pick up the bodies and then sit on top of the bodies, go a little further, get off, pick up some more bodies, get on top of these bodies you know. And that's a wonderful wonderful sight, to see these Germans that I knew were so horrible and so sadistic, sitting on top of these bodies, having to pick them up. I wasn't feeling vindictive; I could have taken stones and thrown, some people did. I never threw a stone at them or anything, I didn't… didn't want to lower myself to that."


Edith Birkin
Born 1927, Prague, Czechoslovakia.
Lodz ghetto 1941. Auschwitz camp 1944. Sent to work camp and munitions factory. 1945 death march to Flossenburg camp, then to Belsen. Arrived in England 1946. Married, three adopted children.