"The beginning of freedom – the beginning of the journey back to life"
Gunskirchen camp is located seven kilometers from the city of Wels in present-day Austria. Most of the boys in the group who were still alive reached here. Although some of the children were liberated before they arrived in Gunskirchen, to this day the members of the group mark May 5 as the day of their liberation.
"We were liberated from Gunskirchen camp on May 4, 1945. Our departure was spontaneous, No one gave us orders. We organized in groups of friends, and I was in a group of six friends. We were very emaciated and weak. We walked along the river near the road, because we were safe there. At some stage we saw a brown jeep. We approached it and saw that the driver was a black man. We understood that we had been liberated and moved on to the road. We stopped hiding…"
From Meir Gecht's testimony
To read the personal story of liberation of each of the boys in the group who survived, go to the Testimonies screen. Although the journey ended with the liberation, only 39 of the boys were fortunate enough to attain freedom. The rest, some of them brothers of the survivors, perished on the journey, most of them in Birkenau. Two of them were killed in the bombing of the train that took them from Birkenau to Mauthausen. The group wanted to perpetuate the memory of all those who didn't survive the journey. The names of those who perished appear on the In Memoriam page.
One of the pictures of the liberation
"We were still very weak. We were given a room in a camp in Wels, a camp that became an American one. At some stage a medic from the American army came to us. It turned out that his parents were from Lithuania and he spoke Yiddish. He asked us all kinds of questions. He saw our condition and was appalled. He treated us – brought us towels, clothes, underwear. He also instructed us in what to eat and how to behave. His name was Max Wolfson and he was about 25 years old. Later on I made efforts to find him, but didn't succeed. As a landmark of our journey, it can be said that he played a very important role in our rescue."
The journey of death was perhaps over, but now another and not easy journey was beginning, the journey of the return to life. Each of the children had to contend with many dilemmas here, some of them fateful – Should they return to Kovno to look for remnants of their family? What could be found there? Should they immigrate to Israel and forego the possibility? Each of the boys was forced to deal with these questions and each one chose a different direction. Some of them returned to Kovno, some of them immigrated to Israel, some of them were adopted by officers in the Russian army. Some were lucky and returned to Kovno and found various survivors from their family; very few found their fathers or mothers. There were those who returned to their native city to discover that they alone remained. And the journey – the journey to life – began. The story of each one of the children who survived appears in the Testimonies section