Jose Manuel Garcia Peruyera has been living in the Canary Islands for the last 60 years, but celebrated his 90thbirthday this week by giving a talk to explain that he was kept prisoner for 8 years in Nazi concentration camps, first in France and then in Germany, and wanted to keep alive the memory of the horrors that he experienced.
Jose explained that he believes that he is the last Spanish survivor of the World War 2 concentration camps, and never tires of repeating his story, and he said “It is very important to know what happened and above all to make known what my mind has stored, because my eyes saw horrible crimes that Nazism committed.”
Jose has already travelled to schools, colleges and universities in France and Spain to give talks about his experiences, but he explained that when sharing his hidden story, he aims not to damage the sensitivity of this audiences, especially when talking with young audiences.
In the room where Jose gave his recent talk in the Civic Centre for Adults in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the students who came to listen to him sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to him, and learned from him that he lost his entire family when he was 8 years old in Oviedo in Asturias in Northern Spain, due to the German siege by sea and land.
He told his audience that he was first taken to a concentration camp in France, where everyone slept under the stars until the barracks were built, and then he was taken to Germany to Buchenwald camp and later to Mauthausen, from where he was eventually rescued unconscious.
He explained that the children of the war were those left in Spain during the Spanish Civil War, and were taken to Nazi concentration camps. The final days of the Second World War meant severe hunger for those in concentration camps, and Jose said that it was a miracle that he survived the final camp that was used by Nazi doctors to experiment on children.
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