Yurij Piskunov was born on December 22nd 1925 in Ukraine.
After the occupation of Ukraine by the Germans, Yurij got a job at a railway station. On April 3, 1943, he was arrested by the Gestapo (Secret State Police) for the sabotage of German trains. He was deported to the Mauthausen concentration camp near Salzburg, Austria, where he was forced to work in the quarry. Here the conditions were severe and the death toll was high. His prisoner number was 36227. In November 1943 he was transferred to the Dachau concentration camp, where he received another prisoner number - 57588.
At Dachau he had to work outside of the camp repairing bombed out railway tracks. One day he found a German newspaper amid the rubble which he quickly hid and tried to smuggle back into the camp. News from the “outside world” was very valuable to the prisoners. On his way back into the camp he was searched and the newspaper was found. He was sent to the dreaded “Bunker”.
He was locked up in a “Standing Cell” which measured just 70cm x 70cm (2.5 x 2.5 feet).
"It was dark. Wherever I turned, I immediately came against a wall. I could only sit a little by leaning my back against one of walls and with my knees against the opposite wall. I was very frightened and did not know if I would come to live the next morning. It was damp and cold in the cell. This is how a day would pass. Then they began to mock me. When the food was brought, the SS officer forced me to bark or grunt like a dog on all fours and scolded me "a filthy Russian pig." He always had the whip ready. If something did not please him, he would whip me immediately. So all I could do was to turn to the All Mighty, so that he would take my soul and save it from these torments.” - Yurij Piskunov
Yurij survived 10 days and was released back into the regular barracks of Dachau. The day after he spat blood. He contracted tuberculosis. The experience changed his life and would never be forgotten. On the 29th of April 1945 US infantry liberated 32,000 people at Dachau including Yurij who was then in barrack number 13.
After the war he became a fashion designer and won many awards. He spoke about his experience and warned people of the dangers of fascism. He lived with his daughter Larysa and grandson Yurij until his death at the age of 81 in 2007. He is buried in Kiev.