Auschwitz survivor whose romance with Scots soldier made headlines dies at 92


A WOMAN who survived the horrors of Auschwitz and married the Scottish soldier who rescued her has died aged 92.

Edith “Eci” Mackay passed away last week with her family and husband of more than 70 years, World War II veteran John, by her side.

The couple had captured the hearts of millions around the world earlier this year year after celebrating their 71st Valentines day together.

John with his beloved wife Edith

Edith, who passed away on 26 June following a bout of pneumonia, had met John, 96, after he rescued a column of Jewish prisoners from their Nazi guards.

Among the prisoners who were being marched from Auschwitz to another concentration camp in the closing months of the Second World War, was a young Hungarian Jew called Edith.

John and Edith met at dance organised by troops shortly afterwards at a village hall. They married, moved to Scotland, had a family and lived together in a care home in Broughty Ferry, Dundee.

John and Edith MacKay, Aged 20 and 23 in 1944

The devoted couple, married a year after the war ended on 17 July 1946 and still referred to each other as “sweetheart” every day.

Born Editih Steiner in the Székesfehérvár region of Hungary, she survived six weeks in the barbaric concentration camp but tragically lost 39 members of her family during the holocaust.

The couple moved back to the UK after the war ended and lived in Edinburgh, Liverpool, Gleneagles and Pitlochry and had two children, Sharon and Peter.

Speaking about her mum, Sharon said: “My mum was an extremely pricate person, very, very kind and quiet.

“Mum was just mum.

“She was a seamstress in her youth. She was very quiet, very reserved, very kind and very family orientated.”

According to their devoted daughter, John is “lost” without his beloved wife by his side.

She continued: “He is absolutely lost. Thankfully they got to spend the last year together. He cared for her.”

Sharon added that her mother never spoke of her time in Auschwitz and thinks she may had suffered from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

She continued: “I think she had PTSD and really struggled. She really had a lot of nightmares.

“It was 39 members of their immediate family they lost (during the holocaust), aunties and uncles.”

Edith – known as Eci – and her mother survived the horrors of Auschwitz and were being marched by the Nazis to another camp further from the rapidly-advancing Allied armies.

Weak through lack of food and vulnerable to disease, the pair also faced the ever-present threat of summary execution. Their chances of surviving to the end of the war were slim.

But John and his unit ran into the column and took care of the prisoners.

John, whose own wartime exploits included escaping from an Italian prisoner of war camp, spotted Edith at the dance but was too shy to approach her.

He sent a over a pal to ask her if she would dance with him, but Edith insisted that if he wanted a dance them he must ask her himself.

As well as their two children, the couple have seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Vera Scimgeour, deputy manager at the Balcarres Care Home where Edith lived with John said: “Sadly she passed away last week. It was natural causes.

“All her fmaily was with her, John was with her as well. It was sad for them.

“He just totally doted on her and she doted on him, it was so sad.”