In 1942, a boy known as Moshe Peer (at the age of 9) with his younger brother and sister were arrested by German police in their homeland of France. His mother was sent to Auschwitz and never returned. Peer and his siblings were sent to Bergen-Belsen two years later. He recalls the separation from his parents as excruciating.
At the age of 11 Moshe Peer held captive at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp during World War II. He was sent to the gas chamber at least six times. Each time he survived, watching with horror as many of the women and children gassed with him collapsed and died. To this day, Peer doesn’t know how he was able to survive.
Peer has spent the last 19 years writing a first-person account of the horror he witnessed at Bergen Belsen. He wrote a book called Inoubliable Bergen-Belsen where reader can feel like a witness at the scene.
Peer said that Russian prisoners were kept in an open-air camp “like stallions” and were given no food or water. “Some people went mad with hunger and turned to cannibalism,”
Peer’s day began with a roll call of the numbered prisoners. This could last as long as five hours, while their captors calculated how many prisoners had died. Anyone who fell over during the roll call was beaten on the spot. After roll call, the prisoners returned to their barracks, where they were given a tiny piece of bread and some coloured water.
After the war, Peer was reunited with his father in Paris and the family moved to Israel. Peer’s four children were born in Israel, but after serving in the Israeli army in a number of wars, Peer moved to Montreal in 1974.
But what he is most bitter about is the way the rest of world stood by and let it happen. “No one told the Germans not to do it. They had the permission of world,” he said.