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'I never spoke about the Holocaust for over 55 years, I never even told my late wife about the horrors' - Words of survivor Tomi Reichental at annual​ Holocaust​ Memorial Day

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Tomi Reichental during The Holocaust Memorial Day Commemoration at the Mansion House, Dublin.
Photo:  Gareth Chaney Collins

Tomi Reichental during The Holocaust Memorial Day Commemoration at the Mansion House, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade Charlie Flanagan TD during The Holocaust Memorial Day Commemoration at the Mansion House, Dublin.
Photo:  Gareth Chaney Collins

Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade Charlie Flanagan TD during The Holocaust Memorial Day Commemoration at the Mansion House, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

US Ambassador Kevin O'Malley at the Holocaust memorial Day at the Mansion House in Dublin. Picture:Arthur Carron

US Ambassador Kevin O'Malley at the Holocaust memorial Day at the Mansion House in Dublin. Picture:Arthur Carron

President Michael D Higgins and wife Sabina meets WW2 veteran Albert Sutton and survivors Suzi Diamond and Tomi Reichentalat the Holocaust memorial Day at the Mansion House in Dublin. Picture:Arthur Carron

President Michael D Higgins and wife Sabina meets WW2 veteran Albert Sutton and survivors Suzi Diamond and Tomi Reichentalat the Holocaust memorial Day at the Mansion House in Dublin. Picture:Arthur Carron

President Michael D Higgins and wife Sabina meets WW2 veteran Albert Sutton and survivors Suzi Diamond and Tomi Reichentalat the Holocaust memorial Day at the Mansion House in Dublin. Picture:Arthur Carron

President Michael D Higgins and wife Sabina meets WW2 veteran Albert Sutton and survivors Suzi Diamond and Tomi Reichentalat the Holocaust memorial Day at the Mansion House in Dublin. Picture:Arthur Carron

President Michael D Higgins and wife Sabina meets WW2 veteran Albert Sutton and survivors Suzi Diamond and Tomi Reichental at the Holocaust memorial Day at the Mansion House in Dublin. Picture:Arthur Carron

President Michael D Higgins and wife Sabina meets WW2 veteran Albert Sutton and survivors Suzi Diamond and Tomi Reichental at the Holocaust memorial Day at the Mansion House in Dublin. Picture:Arthur Carron

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Tomi Reichental during The Holocaust Memorial Day Commemoration at the Mansion House, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

"I never spoke about the ​Holocaust for over 55 years - I ​just ​couldn't talk about it.​ My wife died ​12​ years ago - I never ​even​ told her the horror​s​ I went through."

These ​are the words of ​Tomi Reichental​ - ​one of three remaining​ ​survivors​ of Hitler's mass extermination plan for the Jews - now​ living in Ireland.

The 79-year-old joined Suzi Diamond and Jan Kaminski​, who also survived the death camp nightmare, to lead a ​special ​commemoration service ​in Dublin.​

They were joined by politicians and religious leaders at the annual​ Holocaust​ Memorial Day at the Mansion House​ in Dublin.

​Recalling​ the ​nightmare​ images of th​ose​ times, Mr Reichental, who has lived in Ireland for the past 55 years, ​said that ​when his grandmother died her body was "picked up and thrown on a cart."

"It was then thrown on a pile of corpses outside the camp. It's something I have to take with me to the grave. I will never forget that picture in my mind.

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President Michael D Higgins and wife Sabina meets WW2 veteran Albert Sutton and survivors Suzi Diamond and Tomi Reichentalat the Holocaust memorial Day at the Mansion House in Dublin. Picture:Arthur Carron

President Michael D Higgins and wife Sabina meets WW2 veteran Albert Sutton and survivors Suzi Diamond and Tomi Reichentalat the Holocaust memorial Day at the Mansion House in Dublin. Picture:Arthur Carron

President Michael D Higgins and wife Sabina meets WW2 veteran Albert Sutton and survivors Suzi Diamond and Tomi Reichentalat the Holocaust memorial Day at the Mansion House in Dublin. Picture:Arthur Carron

"I was nine years old at the time. It was so inhuman and barbaric, but at the time it was part of life."

Diseased, dying people were everywhere, he said, and many were so skeletal it was unclear if they were men or women.

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Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade Charlie Flanagan TD during The Holocaust Memorial Day Commemoration at the Mansion House, Dublin.
Photo:  Gareth Chaney Collins

Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade Charlie Flanagan TD during The Holocaust Memorial Day Commemoration at the Mansion House, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade Charlie Flanagan TD during The Holocaust Memorial Day Commemoration at the Mansion House, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

All around the stench of burning flesh from the crematoria suffocated the air​.​

Mr Reichental, ​a ​survivor of the notorious Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, said the "horrors" of the times will forever remain seared in his memory.

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President Michael D Higgins and wife Sabina meets WW2 veteran Albert Sutton and survivors Suzi Diamond and Tomi Reichentalat the Holocaust memorial Day at the Mansion House in Dublin. Picture:Arthur Carron

President Michael D Higgins and wife Sabina meets WW2 veteran Albert Sutton and survivors Suzi Diamond and Tomi Reichentalat the Holocaust memorial Day at the Mansion House in Dublin. Picture:Arthur Carron

President Michael D Higgins and wife Sabina meets WW2 veteran Albert Sutton and survivors Suzi Diamond and Tomi Reichentalat the Holocaust memorial Day at the Mansion House in Dublin. Picture:Arthur Carron

Speaking to Independent.ie, he said one "joyful image" he carries with him is the moment ​a ​British army ​unit ​rolled into their camp and told the​ inmates ''you are now​ free."

"The came into the camp and shouted through a lou​d​hailer 'this is the British army, you are being liberated,’ he said.

"We didn't know what the word meant at the time, but we knew that we were free.

"What we experienced was hell on earth."

He warned that humanity must always be on guard against a repeat of murderous racism.

"We must never forget what happened in the decades to come. I live by the motto 'make peace with the past, so it won't spoil the present.'"

He also spoke out against the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe, adding that recession in Ireland has marked the return of "racism" in Ireland.

"It is happening all the time. When the economy isn't doing well, people tend to blame other people," he said.

"Today it is not the Jews getting blamed​ - ​but ​some ​foreign people are being targeted by hooligans.

"They say they are taking the jobs away from Irish people, and it is very worrying."

International Holocaust Da​y​ saw a scroll of names read out ​list​ family members of Irish people who died in the ​Holocaust.

There were solemn prayers and the oft-repeated warnings to never let such horrors happen again.

President Michael D Higgins, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald​,​ and Minister for Foreign Affairs Charles Flanagan​,​ were among those who paid tribute to the victims during ​an​ evening of music, po​etry and shared memory​.

Six candles ​in remembrance ​of the six million Jews ​who​ perished were lit by descendants and relatives​.

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