The horrors of the Holocaust happened in a bygone era, but the repercussions of that genocide and the war that followed still linger. Although many have died at some point in the previous seven decades, there are still several Holocaust survivors throughout the world that are still around to share their stories.
One such survivor, Klara Markus, is soon scheduled to celebrate her 101st birthday, an impressive achievement for a Jewish Romanian woman that lived through three concentration camps. According to the Daily Mail, Markus was imprisoned in Dachau and Ravensbruck before being transferred to Auschwitz in Poland. Although Auschwitz is known for being one of the war’s most brutal death camps, Markus allegedly survived because the Nazis running the camp ran out of gas.
“My mother and older sisters were taken directly to Auschwitz. I never saw them again,” Markus said in a 2010 story about her experiences to Romanian publication Adevarul, “When I asked about them, SS members replied shortly: ‘Maybe, you should search for them in the smoke or ashes!’ and they laughed.”
The most terrifying account of Markus’s story is her experience in the gas chambers of Auschwitz.
“I was chosen towards the end of the day with a large group of other women and we were made ready for the gas chamber,” Markus said, “But when they put us inside and went to turn the gas on, they found they had run out. One of the guards joked that it was our lucky day because they had already killed so many that they didn’t have any gas left for us.”
Markus’s 101st birthday has been honored by the Romanian government, who sent a representative named Anton Rohian to her house. According to Markus, Rohian said “I brought you a bunch of flowers, a bottle of champagne and an excellency diploma to thank you because you’ve returned to Maramures after all you’ve been through.”
Sources: The Daily Mail, Adevarul