The Six-year-old Who Arrived at Auschwitz the Day the Gassings Stopped

Palo Shelah, protected only by his 11-year-old brother, experienced the final months when the mass murder at the camp turned into a different kind of chaos

Dina Kraft
Dina Kraft
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In the grainy black-and-white photo taken by his Red Army liberators, 6-year-old Palo Shelah is almost swallowed up by an adult-sized striped prisoner uniform that falls below his knees. A cap on his head, he’s clustered next to a barbed-wire fence with a group of other children. He has been in Auschwitz-Birkenau for almost three months – one of the few young children found when the Nazis’ most notorious concentration camp was liberated.