SURVIVORS of the "darkest chapter" of German history spoke at Yom Hashoah at Pinner Synagogue on Sunday evening.

A packed congregation was enthralled and deeply affected as synagogue-goers listened to the experiences of Susan Pollack and Anita Laska Wallfisch as they told of how they survived concentration camps during the Nazi regime.

Susan was only 14 years-old when she was liberated from Bergen Belsen on April 15, 1945, by the British Army. She had previously spent time at Auschwitz where her mother had been gassed.

Anita was 19 years-old when she was liberated and during her time in concentration camps she played in camp orchestras.

She said: "The only benefit that gave me was that I was not chosen for the gas chambers for as long as they wanted a band. I may have only been in my teens but I felt like I was 90 years-old."

Susan said: "When people ask me how I survived the camp, I say it was great they came on the 15th and not the 16th, I had no comprehension of what was going on."

She explained that to cope with the "indescribable suffering" she and her friends fantasiszed about having bread, butter and jam and remembered home life.

She said: "I thought back to those Polish days even with the knowledge that my mother had been gassed."

Susan was eventually selected for slave labour, but as the Allied forces moved in closer all of the prisoners from Auschwitz were forced to go on a death march.

She explained: "It was the winter of 1945, we had no proper clothes, no shoes and no food until we arrived in Bergen Belsen.

"No one had taken any of the corpses away and I just stood on the ground."

Anita's arrival at Bergen Belsen was similarly bleak, she explained: "There were 3,000 people there and there was no room for us and we were herded into huge tents."

Susan also recounted how lice on the forehead soon became a sign that people were dead in the camp and Anita said: "Bodies became so commonplace that you started to ignore them and the mountains and mountains of corpses became larger and larger."

Despite all of her suffering the period of rehabilitation Susan experienced was equally draining.

Susan said: "In 1948 I went to Canada and I lived there for 40 years, I got married to another holocaust survivor and had a family and that was the healing process for me."

The Ambassador of Germany, Mr Wolfgang Ischinger, said: "The Holocaust needs to be remembered. It will always be the darkest chapter of our history.

"I want you to know that it hasn't been easy to grapple with and deal with the history of my nation. Words cannot express the shame and the sorrow when Germans remember the men, women and children who were killed in a murderous German regime."

Anita said: "When people ask me how was the Holocaust, I think what a question and I ask them have you got three months' but I do understand it is a very awkward thing to talk about."

The purpose of Yom Hashoah is to ensure that the third generation of Jewish people will not forget the suffering their grandparents experienced. The service commenced with a candle lighting service and readings from the Torah and finished with the singing of Israel's national anthem - Hatikvah.