JOPLIN, Mo. —
Two weeks later, the Russian army liberated the train. They were free.
“I vividly remember the spring of 1945,” said Lazan, who at age 10 had withered to 35 pounds. “The weather was beautiful, sunny and bright. The trees and grass were lush and green. Flowers were in bloom, birds were singing. It was a wonderful, exciting feeling to be free at long last.”
When British forces liberated Bergen-Belsen camp, itself, they found many of its prisoners to be seriously ill. There were thousands of unburied corpses.
An estimated 50,000 people - including Anne Frank, whose diary was famously published posthumously - died at Bergen-Belsen during its five-year existence, according to the museum. Another 13,000 liberated from the camp later died from their illnesses. Lazan’s father, succumbing to typhus, was one of them.
The Nazis killed about 6 million Jews and 5 million non-Jews - including Gypsies, disabled people and gay people - during the Holocaust.
Of those who survived an estimated 500,000 are still living, according to the UJA Federation, a Jewish philanthropy with U.S. headquarters in New York. In 2011, it was estimated that 127,000 survivors are living in the United States, though many are in their 80s and 90s, and they are passing away at a rate of perhaps thousands each year.
Granted freedom at age 10, Lazan began learning about life. Using the same tickets purchased years earlier, she eventually immigrated with her mother and brother to the United States.
They landed in Hoboken, N.J., on April 23, 1948 — three years to the day of their liberation. A Jewish relief organization found them a home in Peoria, Ill. Lazan started fourth grade at age 13.
She eventually graduated from high school and soon thereafter married her husband of 60 years, Nathaniel Lazan. They now have three children, nine grandchildren and two great-granddaughters. Her mother lived to be 104 years old, and her brother currently lives on the West Coast. “