The premiere of the Italian-language edition of "Deprived Childhood" at the Turin Book Fair
The latest Italian-language publication of the Auschwitz Museum, entitled "L'infanzia rubata. I bambini liberati ad Auschwitz" (Deprived childhood. Children Liberated in Auschwitz), was presented for the first time at this year's Turin Book Fair, the second largest book fair in Europe.
The author of the book numbering over 500 pages, is Helena Kubica, who, during her many years of work at the Auschwitz Memorial Research Centre, focused, among others, on the fate of children deported to the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz.
The book is devoted to 750 children and minors in Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau during the camp's liberation on 27 January 1945. The author presents the history of the deportation of children of various nationalities, the chaotic decisions made by SS men towards children during the evacuation of prisoners, the situation in the camp just before liberation, during the liberation, and in the first weeks following the liberation, when the inhabitants of Oświęcim and the surrounding area, as well as the medical and nursing staff of the Polish Red Cross, rushed to the rescue of the survivors.
The publication also describes the difficult return to life in liberty of the rescued children, their drama at losing all their loved ones and the small joys of those who managed to find at least one parent or sibling. Many orphaned children were adopted and then spent years searching for their roots.
'It has since become a tradition to organise meetings with Auschwitz survivors for Italian-speaking readers during our presence at the Turin Fair, our seventh appearance so far. This year our guest of honour was one of the protagonists of the book “Deprived Childhood”, Lidia Maksymowicz,' said Jadwiga Pinderska-Lech, head of the Museum Publishing House.
Lidia Maksymowicz was deported to Auschwitz from Belarus as a three-year-old child. In 1945, after liberation, she was adopted by a Polish family from Oświęcim.
'The girl was very ill and, for a long time, could not get used to normal life: sleeping in a bed with sheets and taking a bath, something she dreaded after her experiences in the camp. She also recounts today that she used to propose to her peers that they play life in camp games because she was unfamiliar with ordinary children's games. In 1962, Lidia learned that her biological parents had survived the war. Her visit to Moscow and meeting with her parents and three sisters born after the war became a major media event. On seeing her daughter, who had been missing for 17 years, the mother collapsed,' added Pinderska-Lech.
Lidia Maksymowicz is often invited to meet young people and adults. 'The meeting room with Lidia at the Turin Book Fair was thronged with people. Nevertheless, there was a deep silence as she told her story. After the meeting, many people came up to exchange a few words and ask for an autograph,' said Jadwiga Pinderska-Lech.
This year's edition of the Turin International Book Fair attracted almost 170,000 people, considered a record attendance. The Museum's permanent partner in this undertaking is the Train of Memory Association (Associazione Treno della Memoria), which has been organising visits for Italian youth to the Auschwitz Memorial for over 10 years.