Beloved Holocaust orphan Frank Bright dies, aged 94

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Beloved Holocaust orphan Frank Bright dies, aged 94

Born in Berlin in 1928, Frank survived Auschwitz as a teenager. He was awarded an MBE in Queen Elizabeth II's final New Year's Honours List.

Holocaust survivor Frank Bright MBE has died at the age of 94. He passed away at Ipswich Hospital, Suffolk on 16 August at the age of 94.

Born as Frank Brichta in Berlin in 1928, Bright was four years old when the Nazis came to power. He remembered antisemitism on the streets of Berlin and in 1938 due to fears for their safety, Frank’s family moved to Prague. These fears increased again when the Sudetenland was ceded to Germany as part of the Munich Agreement.

Following the May 1942 assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, a high ranking German SS officer and one of the main architects of the Final Solution, Frank remembered the door-to-door searches conducted by the Gestapo and the deportation of his neighbours to their deaths.

In July 1943 Frank’s family were deported at night to Terezin. There, Frank first worked in the vegetable garden and then in a metal factory. His mother mended sheets and his father first worked in a timber yard and then became a ghetto policeman. His father was later deported from Terezin and Frank never saw him again.

Frank Bright MBE. Pic: AJR

In the autumn of 1944, Frank and his mother were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. On arrival, his mother was sent straight to the gas chambers and Frank was sent on a cattle truck to a factory in the Sudetenland. Here he worked on the manufacture of airplane propellers.

As liberation drew near, Frank had to dig trenches in the frozen ground to bury the bodies of those who had died on the notorious death marches from the East.

In early 1945, French labourers unlocked the camp gates and turned off the electric barbed wire fence around the camp. Later, the Russians arrived.

After liberation, Frank returned to Prague and then went to Teplice to take up an apprenticeship. He arrived in London in 1946 and became a civil and municipal engineer. Frank Bright dedicated many years to telling others about his experiences and was a patron of the Dora Love Prize, given by the University of Essex to students who create the best Holocaust awareness project each year.

Frank was also featured in the BBC documentary The Last Survivors in 2019.

Frank Bright (circled) at a Jewish school in Prague during the occupation by Nazi Germany, before he was transferred with his parents to Theresienstadt. Pic: Frank Bright via BBC

He was married to wife Cynthia, who passed away in 2021 and the couple had two children.

Michael Newman, chief executive of Association of Jewish Refugees (AJR) paid tribute, saying: “Frank came to Britain after the liberation, took night classes to become a civil engineer and dedicated much of his life to educate young people about the horrors of discrimination, hatred and genocide.

“We feel privileged to have captured his testimony as part of our Refugee Voices archive, a collection of life stories and experiences of Holocaust refugees and survivors. Frank was also a regular contributor to the AJR Journal and popular presence at AJR events.

The Holocaust Educational Trust said it was “deeply saddened. Frank survived the Terezin Ghetto in Czechoslovakia, deportation to Auschwitz-Birkenau and work as a slave labourer. Both his parents were murdered during the Holocaust and Frank came to the UK on his own in 1946.

“Frank was unwavering in his determination to honour the memory of those who perished, and spoke to schools and other organisations across the UK for many years. Frank always showed a very poignant example of all that was lost during the Holocaust whenever he shared his testimony – a photo of his 1942 school class on which he had indicated the many young children who never survived the Nazi occupation.

“We are grateful to Frank for all he did to educate the next generation about the horrors of the Holocaust. May his memory be a blessing.”

In 2022, he was awarded an MBE in Queen Elizabeth II’s final New Year’s Honours List for services to Holocaust education.

To read excerpts of Frank Bright’s with the AJR, click here.

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