Piero Terracina recalls January 1945 in Auschwitz II-Birkenau, where he witnessed SS guards leaving the camp. Upon their return, he was forced to participate in a death march where he managed to escape his wardens and seek refuge in Auschwitz I. On January 27, 1945, he recalls the first arrival of the Soviet armed forces in the camp and describes the first inmates' reaction to the liberators.
Piero Terracina was born in Rome on November 13, 1928, the fourth child of Giovanni Terracina and Lidia Anticoli. His observant Jewish family lived in Rome for generations. The family's life changed following the Racial Laws of 1938, Italy’s entrance into the war in 1940, the Armistice on September 8, 1943, and the Nazi occupation of Northern Italy and Rome. After escaping the raid of the Rome Ghetto on October 16, 1943 and the subsequent round-ups, Piero’s family was identified by an informer and captured. All the members of the family were transferred first to the Fossoli internment camp near Modena, and then deported to Auschwitz II-Birkenau. Piero’s parents and grandparents were sent to the gas chambers upon arrival. His siblings, Cesare, Leo, and Anna, were transferred to other camps, where they perished. Piero was liberated in Auschwitz in 1945. He was the only member of his family that survived the Holocaust.