On Monday 24th March a great number of students from the Rodillian Academy heard testimony from Holocaust survivor, Iby Knill, as part of a visit organised by the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET). As the Rodillian Academy is a Beacon School for Holocaust Education, we were very honoured that Iby was able to attend.
About Iby Knill
Iby was born on 23rd November 1923 and spent her early childhood in Bratislava in the former Czechoslovakia. Although her parents were Jewish, Iby was baptised in her teens and considered herself Christian. However, she was still seen as a Jew by the Nazis.
Aged 9, Iby was removed from her school for being classed as Jewish and she was moved to a different school. She was also forced to wear a yellow star, identifying her as Jewish. Iby’s parents arranged for her to illegally cross the border into Hungary. When she arrived, she stayed with a cousin who was later called up to the Labour Battalion so Iby stayed with a solicitor who was also a member of the Resistance. She became involved with the work of the Resistance until she was captured, tortured and imprisoned for 3 months. When she was released, she was arrested for being in Hungary illegally and taken to an internment camp and later a refugee camp.
In early Spring 1944, Iby was released on parole and went to stay with a distant relative in Szekesfehervar. In May 1944, the Nazis occupied Hungary and anti-Semitic laws began to be enforced. Iby was classed as a political prisoner and deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. The prisoners in charge of the barracks were Czech and because Iby was able to communicate with them, she was able to get a better ration of soup and survived.
Iby was transported from Auschwitz to a slave labour camp in Lippstadt where she was in charge of the sick bay. She was sent on a Death March towards Bergen-Belsen but was liberated on the way by American forces on 1st April 1945. Iby became an interpreter for the British Military government and it is here where she met her husband. She now lives in England and regularly shares her testimony with students.