INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Jan. 27, 2015) - On the 70th Anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, one Indianapolis family is sharing their memories of survival and freedom.
Miso "Michael" Vogel once said in an interview, "in Auschwitz, if you cried, you died." He was one of the few survivors of the the concentration camp in Germany. Vogel passed away before seeing the 70th Anniversary, but his memories live on through his family, who lives in Indianapolis.
Howard Vogel is Michael's son. He says at first, his father wouldn't talk about the terror he experienced in Auschwitz. It wasn't until he met up with another survivor, he had the courage to share his story.
"Every time I would hear my father speak, I would learn something new," said Howard.
Michael was a voice for other survivors, sharing the details, sometimes graphic, to anyone who wanted to listen. Howard says his father would start his stories by rolling up his sleeves, exposing his ID number, permanently tattooed on his arm.
“The last third of his life, he spent doing two things he felt he needed to do. One was playing soccer and reffing soccer which he loved and the other was speaking about the Holocaust," said Howard.
Michael Vogel has been featured in numerous documentaries, highlighting the moments he spent in Auschwitz.
“My father, because he was fast and young, got the job of taking the luggage of the goods that they brought and running back to the far end of the camp," said Howard.
Years after the liberation, Michael met another Holocaust survivor, Agnes.
“I told him who I was and where I came from. He didn't believe me. He came from a family of five kids. None of them except himself survived," Agnes Vogel explains. When captured by German armed forces from her home in Hungary, her family was scheduled to be taken to Auschwitz, but the train never made it there.
Agnes currently lives in Indianapolis. The 91-year-old woman says some memories are fading, but she will never forget the terrifying moments at the start of the war.
“I remember listening and watching the bombs come down and I really thought that we would’t make it," said Agnes.
She and her entire family made it out safely. They walked hundreds of miles back to their home, before she came to America.
Howard knows 70 years of memories are important to keep. He knows it's now his mission to share his family's story.
"They’re very strong people and they were lucky. They were lucky but their strength is also what helped them get through this," said Howard.