vintage, nostalgia and memories


July 7, 2017

Holocaust Survivor and Soldier Who Rescued Her Celebrate Their 71st Wedding Anniversary This Year. They Were Married on July 17th, 1946

During the Second World War John's elite unit liberated Jewish female prisoners, among them his wife-to-be Edith -known as Eci - from a work unit the Nazis had marched East from the notorious Auschwitz camp.


Edith Steiner, 92, was 20 years old when she and her mother were sent to the concentration camp. They were in the camp for six weeks and were the only members of their family to survive. The rest were immediately sent to the gas chambers.

According to Daily Mail, Steiner was there during a time period when “Angel of Death” Josef Mengele was conducting his awful experiments, and was marched to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp to face summary execution.

However, John Mackay, now 96, was in the ranks of a commando team that was able to liberate a substantial number of Jewish prisoners from their Nazi guards.

At a village hall dance where Edith was celebrating the liberation, she caught John's eye. (He was 23 at the time.) In a classic move, he sent a friend over to ask Edith if she wanted to dance with him. But she refused to his offer unless he came over and asked her himself.

The couple, pictured aged 20 and 23, in 1944, when they first met after a dance at a village hall. (Photo: Wullie Marr/DEADLINE NEWS)

The rest, as they say, is incredible history...

Edith, aka Eci, and her mother followed John back to his homeland of Scotland after they were married on July 17th, 1946. Together, they owned a hotel before retiring and made a family of two children, seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

John and Eci married in Scotland in July 1946. (Photo: Wullie Marr/DEADLINE NEWS)

According to the couple’s daughter, Sharon Mackay, Eci and her mother who had been transported from Hungary were the only members of their family who survived the ghastly selection process at Auschwitz. While at the camp, Eci managed to make “keep sakes” she has kept with her ever since, including a comb and a poem book.

As the war drew to a close, and the Soviets advanced rapidly from the east, the Nazis marched camp inmates towards Germany to help tackle the desperate shortage of workers in factories and mines.

A year after the war, the couple married and moved to Scotland. They have two children, Sharon and Peter (pictured). (Photo: Wullie Marr/DEADLINE NEWS)

John himself had an adventurous war becoming one of the first soldiers to be recruited from his Commando unit to join the then fledgling SAS.

He was captured at Tobruk in North Africa in the early part of the war. Then a soldier with the London Scottish, he escaped an Italian prisoner of war camp with his friend dressed as Italian soldiers. The two had to keep moving for 18 months to evade recapture.

They now live in a retirement home, and the employees of the home say their love is clear and strong.

Pamela Shaw, activity coordinator at Bupa's Balcarres care home, said it was lovely to see John and Eci are still completely head over heels.

John Mackay, 96 and Edith, 92. (Photo: Wullie Marr/DEADLINE NEWS)

(Photo: Wullie Marr/DEADLINE NEWS)

She said: “John is a true gentleman. He is always checking in to make sure Eci is happy and the pair still refer to each other as ‘sweetheart’ on a daily basis. Their devotion to one another is clear to anyone who spends even a short time in their company.

“John came to join us a year after Eci moved in, so it’s wonderful that they are both near one another again. Our main aim now is to ensure that they continue to enjoy a happy life together.”

(Photo: Wullie Marr/DEADLINE NEWS)

This Valentine's Day, Eci and John's advice to young people in love is to keep the romance alive all year round. The two celebrated their 71st Valentine's Day together with a party and by welcoming all of us to share in their incredible love story.




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