Immortalised in bronze: Holocaust survivor who searched for brother for 70 years

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Immortalised in bronze: Holocaust survivor who searched for brother for 70 years

Sculptor Frances Segelman creates a likeness of Manfred Goldberg for Yad Vashem Foundation UK

Brigit Grant is the Jewish News Supplements Editor

Sculptor Frances Selgelman with subject Manfred Goldberg
Sculptor Frances Selgelman with subject Manfred Goldberg

Typically, when eating sandwiches and enjoying morning tea,  Manfred Goldberg is rarely the focus of attention.

So it took some adjusting when he found himself sat in the middle of an art studio in Wapping with all eyes upon him as sculptor Frances Segelman set about creating his likeness in clay. The artist and her 92-year-old subject had not met before, but producing a bust in front of an audience is second nature for Frances, as she has done it many times before.

Manfred is Frances’ fifth head in the Yad Vashem Holocaust Survivors series

“I like to have lots of people watching,” says the woman known for her
sculptures of the royal family and personalities from the world of entertainment, politics and sport. Frances actually excels under scrutiny, and her work becomes more fluid when the subject’s face holds a story, though she rarely asks them to tell it if they are Holocaust survivors.

Manfred Goldberg’s tale is etched across his brow and his heart. He is the fifth survivor Frances is creating for the Yad Vashem UK Foundation’s Holocaust survivor series and, once the likeness has been bronzed at a nearby foundry, there will be an intimate unveiling for friends and family. But there is one family member whom Manfred would have loved to be present on that auspicious day. His younger brother, Herman.

For seven decades Manfred chose not to recite a memorial prayer for his sibling, who was taken by the Nazis from Preču labour camp in Latvia in 1941. Manfred was also there as was his mother, as all three had been transported from their home in Kassel, Germany, after Baruch Goldberg, the boys’ father, escaped to England. Manfred, then 13, had been working on nearby railway lines when he returned to the camp to learn that his nine-year-old brother had gone.

A photo behind the stolpersteine of Manfred with younger brother Herman, who was killed,

The panic and terror that ensued as he and his mother realised Herman had disappeared echoed in Manfred’s mind. “One hears of miraculous reunions where members of a family find each other after 60 years or more
by pure chance,” Manfred told BBC Teach.

“I never said the prayer El Maleh Rachamim on his behalf, making myself believe that maybe he was still alive.” When Manfred was invited by his hometown to place some stolpersteine (‘stumbling block’ memorials) on the street where the family had lived; after 72 years of hoping and searching, Herman’s murder finally had to be acknowledged.

“All the survivors I have sculpted have something really beautiful about them, which I can’t really explain,” says Frances, who has created sculptures of Sir Ben Helfgott, Mala Tribich, Lily Ebert and Zigi Shipper who died on Wednesday, his 93rd birthday.

Manfred was incredible with such dignity. His wife Shary told me her husband never complains. He never feels cold, never feels hot, never feels hungry and never feels tired… that must be from the hell that he’s been through in his life.”

From her experience, which has seen her create more than 200 heads, Frances has found that the people who have been most suc- cessful in their lives have been the most positive. “And that is the thing that gets them through. Holocaust survivors have experienced such horrific things and maybe a number of them feel guilty because they’re still here. But they under- stand that they’re here to tell their story to the world so that it doesn’t happen again.”

Performing under pressure as she was observed last week was business as usual for Frances, who joined everyone for a cuppa when she had finished in the allocated two hours. “But once I sat down and looked at Manfred as he was eating a sandwich, I realised something was not quite right with what I had done. So I said, ‘Manfred, come back quickly. I know where it has gone wrong.’”

Frances had seen a shadow and a shape that she had missed before and suddenly understood. “Then it was okay,” she smiled.But the shadow of Manfred’s brother remains.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: