Holocaust survivors take part in ‘100 Words’ project

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Holocaust survivors take part in ‘100 Words’ project

Manfred Goldberg told Jewish News: "The most effective way of educating young people is the voice of a survivor who can speak in the first person."

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

Manfred Goldberg meets the Duchess of Cambridge earlier this year 2022 (Jewish News)
Manfred Goldberg meets the Duchess of Cambridge earlier this year 2022 (Jewish News)

One hundred Holocaust survivors from around the world – including recently-rescued people from Ukraine – have taken part in a project under the auspice of the Claims Conference to mark Yom HaShoah.

The 100 Words project features survivors speaking six languages, including Hebrew, Yiddish and English, in a powerful 100-word message to ask the world to continue to remember the Shoah. Among those taking part from the UK are Eva Evans and Manfred Goldberg.

The core 100 words read: “Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day.
We all survived the Holocaust. We are here to give voice to the six million Jews who were murdered.

“We are a reminder that unchecked hatred can lead to actions, and actions to genocide.

“Just over 75 years ago, one-third of the world’s Jews were systematically murdered.

“Among them, over 1.5 million children were killed in the name of indifference, intolerance and hate. Hatred for what was feared. Hatred for what was different.

“We must remember the past or it will become our future. On Holocaust Remembrance Day, we ask the world to stand with us and remember.”

Mrs Evans, who last month celebrated her 98th birthday, was born in Berlin to a non-religious family. Her father, Dr Felix Klopstock, was a GP specialising in tuberculosis, who was briefly sent to the Sachsenhausen camp before the outbreak of the war.

“He took a late decision that we had to leave,” she said.

Her elder brother and sister had previously left Germany for America and Palestine and, at 15, she arrived in Britain with her parents, knowing almost no English.

Klopstock was initially interned as an enemy alien before being allowed to work again in medicine because of a national shortage of doctors.

Mrs Evans, who was made MBE for her work with the University Association for Contemporary European Studies, of which she was the first secretary, said she was “embarrassed” to call herself a survivor, because she spent the war years in the UK.

Nevertheless, she has been a frequent and popular lecturer on her experiences, particularly to children in German schools. For 10 years, she was a regular volunteer at the Jewish Museum in London. She took part in the English version of the 100 Words project via the Association of
Jewish Refugees.

Manfred Goldberg, one of the best-known of Britain’s survivors, is also originally from Germany, and has just turned 91.

He and his family were unable to escape to join his father in Britain and so he spent the Holocaust in a number of concentration and labour camps, tragically losing his younger brother in 1941.

His contribution to the 100-word project is in Yiddish, which he says he “doesn’t use really – but my parents were Polish-born”, adding:
“My mother always spoke German to me, but my father always addressed me in Yiddish. That’s how I learned it. It’s stayed in my mind”.

He spoke in Yiddish for the phrases “against indifference, against hate”. He told Jewish News: “In my experience, the most effective way of educating young people is the voice of a survivor who can speak in the first person. For me, it is worth making every effort to reach them. It leaves a permanent impact. I will go to great lengths to reach youngsters”.

Gideon Taylor, the Irish-born president of the Claims Conference, which is based in New York, said: “The world is full of strife – from the pandemic to the crisis happening in Ukraine. On remembrance days like Yom HaShoah, it is so important to stop and reflect.

“The call to action these survivors put forth today is not only one of remembrance, but one of action, a reminder that we do not have to
be bystanders.

“We can all stand up in our own way and we can choose to not let our collective history repeat itself.”

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