Kitty Hart-Moxon OBE

Kitty Hart Moxon 220

Kitty was born in Bielsko close to the Polish-German-Czech frontiers in 1926.

Following the German invasion of Poland, Kitty’s father decided to flee eastwards to the city of Lublin. However, the city was soon occupied by the Germans and its Jewish population was subjected to rapidly increaisng persecution, culminating in the creation of a ghetto. 

Kitty’s father realised it was essential to escape from the ghetto before it was sealed off and with the help of a priest they obtained non-Jewish documents. Posing as Polish forced labourers Kitty and her mother, who had to separate from the rest of the family, were transported into Germany. They were working in the IG Farben industrial concern in Bitterfeld when in early 1943 they were betrayed. Kitty and her mother were imprisoned and sentenced to death, but their sentence was later commuted to imprisonment in Auschwitz-Birkenau. They arrived in Auschwitz on 2nd April 1943.

In her second year in Auschwitz-Birkenau, Kitty was forced to work for 8 months in the Kanada Kommando, a work group that had to sort the belongings of the camp's victims. The Kanada complex where Kitty worked was situated very close to the four gas chambers and crematoria. This close proximity meant that Kitty was a witness from April 1944 to November 1944 to the relentless killing that took place. This was the period in which the greatest numbers of victims were murdered.

On 11th November 1944 Kitty and her mother were evacuated to a sub-camp of Gross-Rosen, near Wrocław, to work in an electronics factory. This camp was evacuated on 18th February 1945 and prisoners were forced on a death march which took them over the Sudeten mountain range into Czechoslovakia. Thousands of women died during the two-week march, exposed to freezing temperatures, deep snow and without food or shelter. In Czechoslovakia they were forced into open coal trucks. The train took eight days to reach the next destination, Porta Westfalica, in north-west Germany. There, Kitty and her mother had to work in an underground Philips factory.

In spring 1945 Kitty and her mother were sent to Bergen-Belsen, but then marched back to a siding and pushed into a cattle truck and the doors sealed. The train moved eastwards and eventually stopped outside the town of Salzwedel where it was abandoned and the people inside left to die. Hours later one truck where Kitty was with her mother was opened but many women had suffocated because of lack of air. The few alive were taken to a nearby camp outside the town. The camp was liberated by American forces on 14th April 1945.

Kitty and her mother were the only survivors of their family. Kitty’s father had been murdered; her brother killed in action at Stalingrad and 30 members of her family perished in Auschwitz-Birkenau. In 1946 Kitty and her mother received permits to settle in the UK, where their only remaining relatives had been living. They found this a hard period of readjustment; it was felt that nobody would listen and help them to deal with their past. From the time of liberation Kitty felt it was her duty, having witnessed and experienced the horrors of war, to speak out about her past and warn of the consequences of intolerance, racism and hatred.

For many years Kitty has been speaking in schools, universities, colleges and to the general public, in the UK and abroad, as well as on radio and television. She has written two books – I Am Alive and Return to Auschwitz – and made the films Return To Auschwitz, where a camera crew accompanied her on her first return to the camp, Death March: A Survivor's Story, documenting the last 6 months of the war, and Another Journey By Train, where she met four Neo-Nazis at Birkenau.