Pictures by David Poole
One woman shares her extraordinary story as a concentration camp survivor
Kitty Hart-Moxon was 16 when she arrived at the notorious Nazi death camp. Against all odds, she survived there for almost two years. To mark Holocaust Memorial Day Louette Harding discovers how Kitty’s eyewitness account of the horrors has the power to transform attitudes nearly 70 years on
A crumpled photograph shows Kitty Hart-Moxon at the end of the war, looking cheerful enough at a refugee camp near Brunswick in northern Germany. Her left forearm is bandaged. ‘Oh, that was where I tried to excise my tattoo myself,’ she says, with a gruff laugh. In the end, she had it removed after she came to England. ‘People asked, “Is that your boyfriend’s telephone number?” or whispered behind my back.’ If she told them the truth, that it was her concentration camp number, an awkward pause ensued as if she had said something offensive. ‘And one day I had had enough. No one here really wanted to know what had happened and you couldn’t get any help.’
Eventually, it was the stubborn efforts of people such as Kitty, who was awarded an OBE in 2003 for her Holocaust educational work, that changed popular attitudes, with the subject included on the school curriculum and Holocaust Memorial Day – this year’s theme is, aptly, Speak Up, Speak Out – commemorated on 27 January. Ostensibly now a Home Counties widow, living in a comfortable flat in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, Kitty remains vigorous at 85. Most who survived Auschwitz entered the concentration camp just a few months before the end of the war. Kitty endured it for almost two years: ‘my Auschwitz career,’ she calls it, with another ironic chortle.
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