Alex Sobel MP: Many of my family murdered in the Shoah ‘are just ghosts of the past’

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Alex Sobel MP: Many of my family murdered in the Shoah ‘are just ghosts of the past’

Teary Labour MP said he still “feels the trauma” of the Holocaust despite two generations having passed in his family

Teary Alex Sobel in the Commons for Holocaust Memorial Day
Teary Alex Sobel in the Commons for Holocaust Memorial Day

Jewish MP Alex Sobel fought back tears as he recalled how many of his family “are just ghosts of the past” after being killed during the Holocaust.

He said he still “feels the trauma” despite two generations passing in his family, adding he hopes his children “don’t feel it and aren’t driven by some of the same fears that generations of Jewish and other people have felt”.

The Leeds North West MP spoke of his paternal great-grandfather, David Laks, who was murdered by the Nazis in the Belzec death camp in German-occupied Poland in 1942.

The Labour politician told the Commons: “Teresa, my maternal grandmother, died of natural causes in 1938 just before the start of the war.

“David and Teresa had five children. Salka and Fanka were the eldest daughters.

“They lived in central Poland and were murdered along with their families in unknown circumstances by the Nazis.”

Mr Sobel had to pause to compose himself as he spoke about what happened.

He added: “The middle child was called Zygmunt. The fourth child was my grandmother Regina, who survived the war and into old age, and the youngest sibling was my great aunt Marisia, whom I have spoken about in a previous Holocaust Memorial Day debate.”

Mr Sobel described a day in the life of Zygmunt, his wife Guta and son Karol, born in 1939.

They lived in the Lodz ghetto and MPs heard how Zygmunt’s family were gone when he returned home from work one day.

Mr Sobel said: “On that day an SS officer shot Karol, who was just two years old, in the head in front of his mother.

“Karol was my uncle, a child who never got to see adulthood, an uncle I never met.

“I often think about how small my family is. I’m the only child of only children, with very few relatives, and a lot of our family are just ghosts of the past who were taken away from us by the Holocaust.

“Guta was never seen or heard of again but it is assumed she was taken to Belzec death camp, from which she never returned.

“Zygmunt eventually escaped the ghetto to Ukraine but was killed by a bomb as the war was ending.”

Mr Sobel said his father “very much keeps alive the deep and scarring memories” of his family’s experiences of the Holocaust, adding: “Today is so important because we have one day each year that we can share and remember, that’ll be one day to say we won’t forget – but we have every other day to do what we can to strive for a better world and no more genocide.”

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