OSWIECIM, Poland — The voice of Auschwitz survivors praying for their murdered loved ones reverberated Monday amid the barracks and barbed wire of the former Nazi death camp, with one survivor crying out in a pained voice: "I don't want to come here anymore!"
The survivors were paying private homage to their relatives and the millions of others killed in the Holocaust a day ahead of official commemorations marking the 70th anniversary of the Soviet army's liberation of the camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.
For some, it was their first time back since the end of World War II.
Marcel Tuchman, a 93-year-old survivor of Auschwitz and three other Nazi camps, reflected on the unspeakable suffering of the 1.1 million Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals and others who were tortured and executed at Auschwitz, many in gas chambers.
"The overwhelming statistics are not the stories to be told," Tuchman said. "The stories could only be told by the victims. Unfortunately their voices were silenced by gas and the crematoria, so we are here, the survivors, to speak for them and honor the memory of their suffering."
Together, several of them said kaddish, or the Jewish prayer for the dead, next to the infamous "Arbeit Macht Frei" sign, hanging above the entrance to the camp. Many expressed shock at the recent killings of Jews at a kosher supermarket in Paris, saying they fear the world still has not learned the lessons of the Holocaust.
Auschwitz was liberated by the Soviet army on Jan. 27, 1945, in the last months of the war. The Soviet advance from the east forced the Nazis to retreat from occupied eastern Europe to Germany and they took many of their prisoners to kill along the way. However, they left several thousand behind, among them children and those prisoners closet to death.