Iby Knill BEM 1923-2022

The Holocaust Educational Trust is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Holocaust survivor Iby Knill BEM.

Karen Pollock CBE, Chief Executive, Holocaust Educational Trust said:

Iby Knill BEM was formidable.  An active member of the Resistance movement and a survivor of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Iby had a unique story to share. She was passionate about sharing her testimony and ensuring the next generation learnt about the horrors of the Holocaust.

Based in Leeds, she spoke to thousands of students in the North of England via our Outreach Programme. Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this sad time.


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 felt herself to be Christian. However, she was still seen as a Jew by the Nazis.

Iby’s parents realised it was not safe for Jewish girls to stay in Bratislava, and so they arranged for her to cross the border illegally into Hungary. Before long, Iby became involved in the work of the resistance, helping escaped Allied airmen. Her role was to carry messages and codes until she was caught, tortured and imprisoned for three months. After she was released, Iby was rearrested for being in Hungary illegally and taken to an internment camp and eventually to a refugee camp.

In March 1944, the Nazis occupied Hungary and Iby was classed as a political prisoner and deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau.  Iby was then transported from Auschwitz to a slave labour camp in Lippstadt. At the end of March the 750 female prisoners in the camp were sent on a Death March towards Bergen-Belsen, but were liberated on the way on 1st April 1945, by American forces. After a period of recovery in hospital following liberation, Iby became an interpreter for the British Military Government.

Iby came to England in March 1947 and was awarded a BEM in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2017 for her services to Holocaust education and remembrance.