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December 6, 2013 2:01 pm

Holocaust Survivor Breaks 70-Year Silence to Tell of Young Friend Experimented Upon by Mengele at Auschwitz (VIDEO)

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Trailer for the documentary, 'Iby Knill: An Auschwitz Promise.' Photo: Screenshot.

Trailer for the documentary, 'Iby Knill: An Auschwitz Promise.' Photo: Screenshot.

Auschwitz survivor Iby Knill, 90, ended 70 years of silence to keep a promise she made on the first night she spent at the death camp, in July 1944, when a frail teenage twin crawled over to her and begged, “if you live, please tell our story,” the UK Daily Mail reported on Friday.

Knill had repressed the awful memories of the camp her whole life until four years ago, when she enrolled in a university course in theology, in Leeds, UK, where she now lives. The class was discussing whether the Holocaust was a result of evil or sin, and the professor said that “only a person who was there could answer that question,” to which Knill responded simply, “I was there.”

The admission opened the floodgates and, fulfilling her promise to the unknown girl, she decided to write her memoirs.

Remembering her first night at Auschwitz, she said: “The girl told me that her and her sister were going to be experimented on. She said they were then going to be gassed and therefore exterminated.”

“She made me promise to tell the story of the camps, if I were to live. Of course I said yes, but after the war was over it didn’t seem right to talk about what had happened,” she told the Daily Mail. “There, you were one of a number, and it came down to how long you could survive.”

A documentary was made from her memoirs, ‘The Woman Without a Number,’ by film and television student Robin Pepper, 22, at Teesside University. Pepper and fellow students Mark Oxley, 26, and Ian Orwin, 22, made the documentary after reading her book in just one day.

About the film, ‘Iby Knill: An Auschwitz Promise,’ Knill said: “Robin has done a marvelous job, and I am very happy with the film. It goes some way towards fulfilling the promise I made to the twin all those years ago.”

Pepper said, “It was an honor to work with Iby. She is an amazing lady, and we are really pleased we have helped her keep that promise she made so long ago.”

Knill was born in Czechoslovakia but escaped to Hungary in 1942 when the SS began rounding up Jews. Two years later, when Knill was 20, Hungary was occupied and she was transported to Auschwitz.

The Auschwitz death camps also played host to some of the most gruesome Nazi medical experiments, from which few survived, the Daily Mail reported upon, citing

“Nazi Professor Carl Clauberg oversaw the mass sterilization of hundreds of Jewish prisoners by putting chemicals in their Fallopian tubes and exposing their genitals to X-rays. The procedures were brutal, often causing infections and radiation burns,” the Daily Mail said.

Some “patients” were used for human medical trials of the drugs Rutenol and Periston, reacting with bloody vomiting and painful diarrhea, while others were experimented on with “no apparent purpose” done “merely for practice – or pleasure,” the newspaper wrote. Doctors deliberately made the lungs of tuberculosis patients collapse and killed others by injecting lethal phenol into their hearts.

One of the most infamous doctors, Josef Mengele experimented on twins and people of different races, even infecting them with contagious diseases to see how their survival rates compared.

Knill spent six weeks in Auschwitz before being transferred to the German labor camp Kaunitz, which was eventually liberated. She later moved to Britain, married British Army major Herbert Knill, and had two children, Christopher Knill, a psychiatrist, 65, and Pauline Kilch, 58, a teacher.

Watch a trailer from the documentary, ‘Iby Knill: An Auschwitz Promise,’ below:

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    Many survivors find it very diffecult to talk about their experiences of the Holocaust, that is why much of the research about the subject really only got under way in the 1960’s and explains why the research of this event is still going on today and will go on in the future.

    As for not being tattooed many of the victims were sent straight to the gas chambers without being tattooed. It is possible that other victims who were to be experimented on were seperated and taken away before going through the full procidure.

    Prisoners were marched from the railtrack through the main gate, the railtrack went into the camp. which prevented escape.

    Regarding non Jewish people murdered in the Holocaust the BIG Difference was that the NAZIs intended to extrminate all Jews that was not their intention or the case for none Jews.

    In respect to other acts of Generside by other nations around the world it is true that we must not forget those victims and that we must study the causes of these crimes inorder to prevent them happening again, but this page and site was about NAZI war crimes. othe War Crimes should have their own pages and website, and there should be a General website and pages to cover all genercide and War Crime. trying to comper suffering of victims of these atrocitis agains each other to see who suffered more is pathetic and does not do justices to any of the victims. In fact is show a lack of respect and undermines the case.

    • Joel

      Good point on the difference between Jews and non Jews. The Germans went to each local gov’t official and studied all the records to find Jews and round them up, just for being Jews. They were already making a list of Jews in England in advance of the invasion. It became a point of contention when they demaned the Japanese send all Jewish refugees in China back, or exterminate them there. The japanese refused.

    • Pyotr Grozny

      Golani, Re your para 2 Iby Knill doesn”t fall into either of the categories you mention although I find it credible that the tatooing system broke down in summer of 1944 when there were so many new arrivals. Re para 3 the railway line goes through the main entrance to Birkenau. Transportees disembarked from the train once they had passed through this gate. Presumably those destined for work passed through some other sort of gate. However the famous ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ gate is at Auschwitz 1 Stammlager (Original Camp) about 3 km away, I have never heard of any such gate at Birkenau and there is no mention of it on the wikipedia article on these words.

      Re your other points, I spend a lot of time in Russia where the Nazis murdered millions of non-Jews as well as Jews and do not get a sense of Jews here trying to say that the murder of Jews was morally worse than the murder of non-Jews. As a non-Jew I personally prefer this to be being told that the Nazi murder of Jews was uniquely evil.

      • Richard Hood

        The trains entering Auschwitz-Birkenau would go through the Gatehouse nd terminate at the ‘Ramp’ where they were emptied.SS Doctors would assess thse fit to work there and then, the old and mothers with babies or infants were sent immediately to the gas chambers and their deaths.

        With regards the war in Russia, Hitler declared the Russians as ‘sub-human’ and ere to be used as slaves. If any Commisars were captured, they were shot immediately. The Death Camps killed more than Jews, although their number far outweigh the gypsies and slavs. The number of Russians tat were slaughtered in the war never made it to any of the death camps but were ‘dealt with’ by the SS who came in behind the front line troops. It is still in my view a terrible crime and I have a great respect for the Russian Nation in the way that they managed to turn the prospect of defeat into overwhelming victory.

        In my view, the Concentration Camps or Death Camps should not be labelled as ‘Polish’ whichevr coutry they were located in. That sends out a false historical message. They must be called ‘Nazi Death Camps’ to reinforce the difference between enforced sectarism (?)and ‘The Final Solution’

    • Jessica Thomas

      Nope, it was not just the Jews . The Nazis planned to kill all ‘untermenschen’, which included Jews, gypsies, those with mental or physical disabilities, POC, LGTBQ people, ‘asocials’ which included those who could not work and sterile people and many more.

  • Gideon Goudsmit

    Almost all but not every prisoner did get a number immediately after arrival i was told by survivors in my family, some of my relatives were not able to talk about the war and the stay in the concentration camps , only later in their lives it started coming out with difficulty, it was hidden in their memories and fully understandable


  • Geoff

    It is incomprehensible that some human beings could sink to such depths of wickedness and depravity and that it could be sanctioned by the so-called laws of that time. Equally incomprehensible is that someone could have the strength to survive such treatment. Even now, for example in Syria, people are acting equally badly, murdering people including children,

    • Ephraim

      To add insult to injury, the number of Holocaust deniers keeps growing, egged on by the mainstream press that demonizes Jews and Israel.

  • agnes

    i was born after the war to parents who survived the the holocaust hiding in different places. Coming home discovered that both their parents my grand parents were gased in Ahushwitz gas chambers icluding my young aunt. Evil everywhere should be abolished. The truth is that the same horrifying cruelty with evil in mind exist and lives in the very places were people should fight evilto commemorate the sanctity of the innocents people who lost their lives .

  • Germany will never live down its roles in World War II as in World War 1, both wars were begun by German leaders, both leaders lied to other nations in Europe, both leaders murdered millions of civilians. Germany must not forget, because certainly, the rest of the world will never forget what Germany’s leaders and its military gladly followed into the rape of Europe and the murder of millions of unarmed civilians plus the millions of European and American soldiers and sailors who finally brought the vaunted German Third Reich to its final collapse.

    Germany gave the world the musicians and artists who today comprise most of the greatness in the history of art and music, They have also produced the most unforgettable horrors ever foisted upon individuals and whole national populations.

    Germany is very good at what they do in the world….but Germans have to be watched.

    “Never Again” is not just a slogan. It is a statement of fact.

    That 6 million Jews perished as prisoners is not even half the story. Jews were a minority in Europe then, as now. UNCOUNTED millions of Christians, Mormons, and members of smaller religious sects died at the hands of Germany, as well, and there are many, many non-Jews still living today who know all about Germany and its Third Reich.

    • Lux

      Germany didn’t start the first WW and it is debatable whether they started the second.

  • Paul Schatzberg

    We left Vienna, Austria in March 1939, one year after the Germans arrived. I was 10. We spent almost one year in Antwerp, Belgium, waiting for permission to enter the U.S. My mother, brother and I left Belgium in December 1939 for the U.S., but my father had to remain behind, due to U.S. Immigration Act of 1924. He finally joined us in Baltimore, MD in October 1941.

    We were very fortunate to escape. Most of our family did not.

    Paul Schatzberg

  • Ross Yerkes


    • Frankie Blei

      To Ross Yerkes – if you want to publicise the Yevsek Communist “holocaust” go ahead and do it – no-one is stopping you – but somewhere else. This site is about the Nazi Holocaust. By the way, was one third of the Christian population of the WORLD wiped out by YOUR “holocaust”? Enuf said.

    • Hannah Jacobs

      Sad for you Ross. You read this article and see the video and all you feel is anger that another holocaust isn’t getting the attention you feel it deserves? Why not do something about it, write an article or an op-ed?
      But…lose your anger or no one will be interested.

  • Pyotr Grozny

    I have problems with her story. First she says on her website that when she arrived by train at Auschwitz she passed under the Arbeit Macht Frei gate. I have never heard that anyone arrived by train at this gate in 1944. She has no tatoo, I had thought everyonne was tatooed. I thought that twins subjected to experiments were kept well apart from other prisoners. If she made such a promise I would have expected her to have kept it well before now. I hope experts from Auschwitz will be able to comment on these points (except the last one) Sorry, I think we have a duty to ask such questions.

    • Pyotr Grozny

      Since writing this I have read elsewhere that in the summer of 1944 so many people arrived from Hungary that not everyone was tatooed. Whatever other details about her story may be puzzling she says in her book that she was taken on a transport of 500 Hungarian women to Lippstadt at the end of July and the United States Holocaust Museum holds records of a transport of 530 Hungarian women from Auschwitz to Lippstadt on 31st July 1944.

      • Anna

        My grandmother (now 94) arrived to Auschwitz in 1944 after the Warsaw’s uprising. She spend there a couple of weeks just like Iby Knil, and then was taken to a labor camp in Germany (Ravensbruck)where she survived to the liberation. She also has NO tatoo number. She was unable to speek about the horror she got throuht for about 50 years. The story of Iby Knil is very similar and I don t think it’s untrue.

        • Pyotr Grozny

          Thanks Anna, There’s not much that’s generally known about people who transited through Auschwitz/Birkenau – I couldn’t see anything in the main wikipedia article on the camp. This aspect should be better known. I’ve now got past my initial doubts about this story.

          • Richard Hood


            I visited Auschwitz. The Guides are vry informative, they oftn have meetings with survivors and will pass on their experiances, without any embellishment. They say that the experiance is likene to a time bomb – It hits home sometime after you have visited the camps. It is a very sobering place and I would suggest that you spent a whole day there. The Guides are always happy to answer questions.


    Iby Mnill shouldn’t have waited 70 years to open her drastic experiances to the world. All those years the deniers of the Holocaust had a free go.
    A Holocaust Survivor of 85 years.