Auschwitz Survivor Was Forced By Nazis To Dig Own Grave At Gunpoint

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After the Nazis forced him to dig his own grave at gunpoint, Nat Ross never thought he’d make it out alive. However, thanks to a tragic twist of fate, the Auschwitz survivor was able to celebrate.

Nat Ross celebrates his 100th birthday with his son (Credit: Screenshot)

Nat Ross was one of the millions of Polish Jews that Adolf Hitler planned to murder during his Final Solution. He was 17 when the Nazis rounded up Jewish men, including his father, who was shot, killed, and dumped in a mass grave. If you told 17-year-old Nat that he’d live to be 100 years old, he would have never believed you.

“Never in my life,” Nat said. “If anyone would tell me that you’re going to live 100 years and be a great-grandfather, I would laugh – because every day, I was expecting death.” He was expecting death because its presence was all around him. “In my wildest nightmares cannot imagine going through what he did,” said his granddaughter Dana Arschin-Kraslow.

Nat Ross
Nat Ross (Credit: Screenshot)

Ross survived years of hard labor and horrible conditions at Auschwitz-Birkenau and other concentration camps and even a death march in the midst of winter, Fox10 reported. At one point, when he was building a sewer system for the Nazis, he was told to dig his own grave. “When he was almost done digging, they asked him to lay down on the ground to see if his body fit,” Dana said. “When he did, the guards told him to keep digging. And there was a gun to his head this whole time.”

That’s when a tragic twist of fate suddenly happened. It’s something Nat said he will never quite understand. At that moment, a fellow prisoner collapsed. “It was probably because he was dehydrated and overworked and had no nourishment,” Nat’s granddaughter said. “And the guard said to my Papi in German, ‘isn’t today, your lucky day.’”

Nat Ross
Nat Ross’s forearm with the numerical Nazi tattoo (Credit: Screenshot)

“They shot the other guy who had collapsed and threw him in the grave,” Dana added. “That grave was 100 percent intended for my grandfather, but the rest of his life he had to live with that guilt that it ended up being for someone else.” That surreal moment is something you would see in a movie, but for Nat Ross, it was the everyday cruelty of the Nazi regime.

Nat also witnessed many prisoners take their own lives on the electric fence. He says suicide was never an option for him, for one reason. “I wanted to live because I wanted to tell the story,” he said. “Of how humans can suffer. I wanted to live through it.” To this day, Nat gets emotional discussing his survival, remembering the moments in time as clear as if they were right before his eyes.

Dana Arschin-Kraslow (Credit: Screenshot)

“There is no day or night that my memory doesn’t go through what I went through,” Nat said. However, his day was filled with happy memories as he celebrated his 100th birthday with family in Florida. Nat and his wife Celia have been married for nearly 70 years, and with children, grandchildren, and now great-grandchildren to carry on his story, he knows it will live on through them.

“I just try my hardest to speak about it as much as possible,” his granddaughter said. “I try to write about it, and I just want my daughter and future generations to remember what they went through.” Nat Ross was one of nine children. Of his siblings, only four survived the Holocaust, and they were only reunited after many years. When asked by reporters if it was luck or good genes that caused him to make it out alive, the Auschwitz survivor didn’t want to answer that question. Instead, he shook his head, repeating: “They took my family.”