'I have no tears left': Mengele victim returns to Auschwitz

Mark Austin

Former ITV News presenter

Mark Austin speaks with Auschwitz survivor Alina Dabrowska. Credit: ITV News

We met Alina at the gates of Auschwitz. For 50 years she was not able to set foot in the place. She tried once, in the seventies, with her children. But she reached the perimeter and then could not take another step.

"I was paralysed, I couldn't move ", she told me .The memories of what she saw here, what happened to her here would not allow it.

Alina Dabrowska was one of the victims of the Nazi doctor Josef Mengele, or the Angel of Death. He and his team carried out the most cruel experiments on the prisoners they considered guinea pigs.

They thought of them as animals and treated them as such. Grotesque operations, sterilisations, attempts to change eye colour and join twins together. The side effect was often death and Mengele did not care.

Alina was injected with typhus so they could test various crude medicines on her. She had the highest fever she has ever experienced and hallucinations. She was convinced she was going to die. But she survived, and still survives to tell her story.

She has visited a few times in the last 10 years, but this visit was different. Alina was to see the tools and crude instruments found in the "hospital" by liberating Russian troops. She was to visit the infamous Block 10, the building where Mengele carried out many of his experiments.

Josef Mengele carried out many of his experiments at the infamous Block 10. Credit: ITV News

Alina had brought her 18-year-old granddaughter for the first time. They were nervous but determined. It meant so much to them both.

And so we met at the gates and slowly, with Alina clinging to my arm for support in the snow, we started to walk.

At the building where the Mengele equipment has been painstakingly archived and preserved they had set out the gruesome tools on a table. She looked and smiled. Yes, smiled.

"After 70 years I have just realised that I have no tears left", she says. Among the gruesome collection in front of us is a small bottle of typhus and an old syringe.

Mengele's equipment has been painstakingly archived and preserved. Credit: ITV News

I asked her what she felt about the people who did the experiments. "They are not normal men", she says. "I cannot find the word in English ... but they are beasts".

We step once more into the snow and head to Block 10. A guide unlocks the door to a building that has not been touched for decades and which is closed to most visitors.

She stops at the threshold. " You know when you cannot take another step", she says."It is like that for me. I would prefer if we did not go any further".

Alina waited as my cameraman and I entered the darkness inside. The light outside was fading and there was no electricity. It was cold and dusty and eerie. Bleak corridors and mainly empty rooms.

Alin Dabrowska could not face to entering the building. Credit: ITV News

But, in one, the evidence of what went on here. It was a wooden dissection table with a waste pipe through the floor. What ghastly atrocities took place here in the name of medical research?

We left and walked with Alina back to the gates. I asked her granddaughter what she thought." It is history," she said. "It happened and it happened to someone in my family. I am glad i came".

And Alina? "I just feel guilty that I survived and watched others die," she said as she turned to leave.

She is 92 next month and unlikely to be back.