Leeds survivor tells story of Auschwitz

Iby Knill.
Iby Knill.
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A 90-year-old Auschwitz survivor is to fulfil a promise she made during the war by telling her story on television.

Czechoslovakian-born Iby Knill was 20 when she was sent to the camp in Poland.

She spent six weeks there before being transferred to the German labour camp Kaunitz, which was eventually liberated.

Iby witnessed atrocities in Auschwitz, and made a promise to a young girl that if she survived she would tell the world what they had seen.

After the war, Iby moved to Britain where she married and had two children, Christopher, now 65, and Pauline, 58.

She now lives in Leeds, and finally gathered the courage to pen her story four years ago when she wrote The Woman Without A Number.

Students Robin Pepper, 22, Mark Oxley, 26, and Ian Orwin, 22, have now turned Iby’s memories into a film. It will be broadcast on Community Channel on International Holocaust Memorial Day, marking the 69th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1945.

In the film, Iby says: “We had heard rumours about Auschwitz, but we didn’t believe it because we didn’t think that a civilised nation like the Germans would do something like that. We didn’t think this was even a possibility of happening. And to find that not only was everything we heard was true but it was actually much worse. That we were being dehumanised.”

The three film-makers recently graduated from Teesside University, where they studied film and TV production as part of their final year, self-funded project.

Robin said: “I was fascinated by Iby’s story of determination and survival. When I finished the book I knew that this was the story I wanted to tell.

“Shooting the film in Auschwitz was challenging but worthwhile as we are now having the documentary broadcast on Community Channel. It’s great knowing that we helped Iby to fulfil her promise and share her story with the world.”

Alexander Kann, general manager of Community Channel, said: “I’m glad that Community Channel has been able to play even a small part in ensuring that Iby’s story reaches a wider audience.

“At Community Channel we want shine a light on people like Iby with fascinating stories and unheard testimonies and act as showcase for passionate filmmakers like Robin who are committed to inspiring viewers through their work.”

An Auschwitz Promise will be broadcast on Community Channel on January 27 at 8pm.

Community Channel is funded by the Big Lottery Fund and is owned and run by communications charity Media Trust.

It can be viewed 24 hours a day on Virgin 233, Sky 539, and Freesat 651 plus on Freeview 87 from 2am to 8am.

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