Fiona Bruce and a small team of experts meet a remarkable group of British survivors whose lives were shattered by the events of World War II.
Browse content similar to Holocaust Memorial. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
Regular viewers of the roadshow
will know we've made special programmes
around the theme of remembrance in the past.
Tonight, we're telling a different story.
Not of the lives of British servicemen and women,
but of those whose lives were shattered by the Holocaust.
And as the country prepares to mark Holocaust Memorial Day,
we're bringing together some of those people,
and others, who still live with the consequences
of that most dreadful of times.
And our venue for today,
for what will no doubt be an emotional gathering,
is the very impressive Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
They will share with us
their memories and keepsakes of the Holocaust.
Many were just children
during Hitler's tyranny.
Welcome to this special edition of the Antiques Roadshow,
in which, I believe, you'll hear the most powerful and moving stories
we've ever told.
Later this year, work will begin on an important project
next to the Houses of Parliament.
A British national memorial
will be built here in this park to honour those
who died in the Holocaust
and those who survived and came to Britain
and made it their home.
During the Second World War,
the Nazis and their collaborators killed around six million Jews.
The deadliest genocide in history
also included anyone who didn't fit Hitler's ideal of Aryan perfection,
those with mental and physical disabilities,
Roma and gay people among them.
Over the last year,
the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation,
set up by the Government,
has recorded British survivors telling their stories
while they still can.
This archive of interviews,
conducted by broadcaster Natasha Kaplinsky,
will form an important part of the education centre,
so later generations can see what happens
when hatred is allowed to prevail.
All those who participated were invited to join us
for this recording of the Antiques Roadshow
in the heart of London,
at which we invited them to bring
what precious objects they have from this time,
to meet me and four of our experts -
and John Benjamin.
This being the Antiques Roadshow, we could put a value on items -
we're not going to,
because the things we'll be looking at
are beyond any commercial value.
They are emotionally and historically priceless,
as Rupert Maas has been finding out,
looking at some extraordinary sketches.
Now, Judith Kerr, your name will be familiar to millions of people,
of course, for your famous children's book,
The Tiger Who Came To Tea, and the Mog series,
which all my children, at least, have read.
But you're less familiar for these,
well, extraordinary two very early drawings
which you did before you were nine, is that right? In Berlin?
Yes, and the extraordinary thing is that when we had to leave
in a great rush, because of Hitler,
my mum, with all the other things she had to think about,
decided to pack those,
when she might have packed something more useful.
And this one is of the central railway station in Berlin.
-With the grocer's stall and the tram.
-And this one, of the local playground, I suppose.
I think it was a fair, I think it was a special occasion.
Now, very shortly after this time, Hitler comes to power,
it's the burning of the Reichstag, the writing's on the wall.
-And your father was a very famous theatre critic, wasn't he?
-And an outspoken critic of the Nazis, so you had to get out.
Yes. All that winter, before we left Germany,
people were being murdered in the streets,
and my father used to do a broadcast once a week
in which he probably insulted Hitler and made fun of him,
as he always did, and then come back through the Berlin streets,
and this was thought so dangerous
that the radio company used to send a car with an armed bodyguard
to pick him up.
So there's absolutely no doubt about what would have happened
had he stayed in Berlin after the election.
He would've been picked up and murdered.
Probably even before the elections.
He left about two weeks before.
So, he went separately?
-He went immediately.
And then my mum had this very short time,
I think about ten days,
in which to organise everything...
And you got out, what, by train?
Well, yes. About five o'clock in the morning,
we took a little train
and it went across the frontier to Zurich
on 4th March 1933.
The elections which brought Hitler to power were on 5th March.
And on the morning of 6th March,
they came to our house to demand all our passports.
-So my entire life, my 93 years,
is due to that, and I can never forget that.
But weren't you at all afraid?
No, I think I was too stupid.
I didn't understand what was happening.
Then we went to Paris, which was wonderful.
I loved it. Erm...
We were living in this grotty flat, high up in Paris,
and my father and I were looking out of the window
and we could see all the lights of Paris,
and apparently I said to him,
"Isn't it lovely being a refugee?"
Which must have cheered him up.
Awfully big adventure. And you wrote later what you call a novel,
which was really autobiographical, wasn't it?
-Of your adventures on that occasion,
called When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit.
Yes, that's right.
-And this was an illustration for the American edition.
-So this is you and your brother.
-And your father and your mother, is that right?
It's quite like us.
Of course, as I wrote it,
I realised, far more than I had realised before,
how incredibly protective my parents had been.
My mother had to cope with everything,
and it was hard for her,
and she attempted suicide a couple of times.
And I suddenly thought, having children myself, you know,
how would I act in those circumstances?
And not as well, I think.
But I can tell you that millions of children have read your books
and learned about this awful period in European history
and learned a lot about human nature and family life from your books.
So perhaps you have done a very good thing after all.
Well, that would be good.
For those who stayed, Hitler's Nazis increased their persecution.
Jews had their rights and livelihoods removed.
But things were about to get much worse.
Kristallnacht. It's an infamous night.
The turning point when the Nazi party
made its statement to the world,
that it was out to eradicate the world of Jewish people.
Kristallnacht itself gets its name
from the fact that shop windows were broken,
the Jewish star and the "J" in yellow
were painted on all of the buildings.
The synagogues were destroyed,
and the streets were so full of glass afterwards
-that it crunched in the glass, which is really...
..the concept of Kristallnacht.
-And you were there.
-You were a witness that night.
I remember, although I was only six-and-a-half at that time,
being rounded up with my parents and all the other Jews in our area
and being marched through the town,
and people standing on the sidewalk, jeering and shouting.
I can't actually remember very much more
until we got to the hall,
where we were kept without food and water for about 12, 15 hours.
And from that moment on,
my mother made every effort to get us out of Germany.
Unfortunately, my father was arrested by the Gestapo
the next night and taken to a concentration camp,
where he was kept till June 1939,
and would be very fortunate and lucky
to get a visa to the UK on 29th August,
which was cutting it a little bit fine.
It was. Yes.
Now, who is this little chap here?
Yes. This little chap is my first cousin, Rolf,
who was living with his parents and his grandparents...
-..in a place called Arnsberg,
where the whole family came from.
I met him for the last time in the end of 1938,
which was, in fact,
the last time I saw any of my family from over there.
What happened to Rolf?
Well, Rolf and his cousins
and his parents and grandparents
were eventually rounded up
and taken by train to Auschwitz.
The fathers were sent away to work.
The mothers and the children
were immediately sent to the gas chambers.
And we know that Rolf and his mother and his cousins
were sent straightaway to the gas chambers.
I think this shows more than anything
that the Nazis were out to kill
everybody who was Jewish,
because this is the T-shirt of a very small...
It was Rolf's T-shirt.
-It's just a lad, isn't it, really?
And to actually have a concept
and a regime
which is out there
to destroy everything,
I think something like this T-shirt is so poignant,
because it says it's everybody.
Yeah, and that's the terrible part about it.
You know, they didn't discriminate between kids and grown-ups.
It would've been bad enough just the grown-ups,
but to include the kids as well...
-It really was...
..operation to remove everybody.
To annihilate a race, basically.
Yes. I understand that we have some other people with us today
who also lived through these experiences.
I...I've actually gone silent there,
because that is such a poignant visual sign
of the 20th-century's darkest hour,
and I never, ever thought I would see three people
hold up three real stars that they were issued with...
is an incredibly humbling moment.
Thank you so much for bringing them along.
Of all the things I've seen today, I think this, for me,
is the most chilling, because it's a children's game,
but it's teaching children to hate.
It's called Jews Out.
Ben, you brought it along from the Wiener Library,
which is Britain's Holocaust archive.
It's a horrifying thing, isn't it?
It is a very horrifying thing
and, as you say, it's because it's directed at children
and it's about indoctrinating children into this view of Jews
as something pestilential and unwanted and to be got rid of.
And these characters are meant to symbolise the Jews, here,
these horrible caricatures...
-..in their homes and businesses.
And the object is...
How does it work? It's to round them up?
It's to round them up. So you roll dice and these figures,
which represent the sort of German policemen,
go marching round the town
and when they land on the circles where the yellow cones are,
the cones actually then sit on top of the hats of the policeman
and are brought back to what's called the collection point,
or the Sammel-Platz,
and then you set out to get another one,
and it's a sort of race to be the first to round up six.
And then when you get six, is it off to Palestine?
-As it says here?
-Notionally, for the Jews you've rounded up,
they are sent away to Palestine.
And this was created when, this game?
This was created in 1938,
and it was not produced by the Nazi party,
but was a commercial undertaking, so made for profit.
-Was it popular?
-I believe it was very popular.
It was a commercial success, although now it's a great rarity.
And it's so important not to forget that things like this existed.
Yes, that's right.
Some people nowadays try to deny that the Holocaust ever happened,
and the whole purpose of our collection
is to make sure that those suggestions will always fail,
because we have the evidence in front of us.
Objects can be a lightning rod into the past.
Some of our other guests also brought with them items
which helped tell their family's story.
This silver Judaica comes from Beregovo,
a town in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains.
And in April 1944,
my grandmother Bella
wrapped them and buried them in the family garden
when they were being rounded up to be deported to Auschwitz.
not only did my grandmother survive and return home,
but also my father Hugo, who was then just 13 years old,
survived the selection at Auschwitz by pretending to be 18
and survived two death marches with his father, Geza.
Geza died a few days after they were liberated.
And my grandmother managed to get these items out to my father
and they're still used in our family home,
and my mother still uses these candlesticks
whenever we gather together for Shabbat.
To know that we're still continuing traditions
that the Nazis, of course, intended to have wiped out
is very important to me.
Well, I've brought my grandfather's watch.
It was, for a while, the only thing that he owned in the world.
He was forced to flee Berlin.
He put every single bit of currency he had into it,
because he saw it as his ticket out of Berlin and out of Germany.
His mother was not able to accompany him when he fled,
and he found out subsequently that she was killed in Auschwitz.
He seeked refuge in England
and, originally, he was interned as an enemy alien,
because there wasn't sort of that implicit understanding
that these people were refugees at that point.
They were given the opportunity to volunteer to go on a ship
called the Dunera, which was bound for Canada.
The only way that he was able to keep the watch
when they boarded the ship was he concealed in his flies.
And, in fact, the ship wasn't bound for Canada at all,
it was heading to Australia.
And when he arrived, he was completely alone in the world.
He was round about my age
and effectively an orphan who'd had to flee his homeland.
When I look at this watch,
it's possibly the entire family history
sort of condensed into this one artefact.
So, for the family and for me, it's incredibly precious.
In 1938, as borders and possible escape routes for Jewish people
began to slam shut,
British Jews, Quakers and other aid groups,
with the support of the UK Government,
set up a rescue plan.
So many people needed saving
it was decided to take only the children,
and some 10,000 youngsters were eventually brought to safety here.
Desperate parents handed over their little ones,
not knowing if they would ever see them again.
"Save one life, save the world" -
which is from the Jewish Talmud, the book of law.
This is a ring beyond all rings, I think it's true to say.
It's a gold hoop ring,
and I would like you to tell me who it belonged to
and that person's story.
Well, it belonged to my father, Nicholas Winton,
and he was given it in 1988.
It was a thank-you from a group of people
who came to call him their honorary father,
and they gave it to him for something he did in 1939,
50 years earlier.
Let's reel this back to 1938.
Well, in 1938, my father was a 29-year-old stockbroker
and he was due to go skiing with a friend of his, Martin Blake.
A week before they were due to go,
he got a phone call from Martin saying,
"The holiday's off, I'm in Prague.
"I think you should come out and see what I'm doing."
And because my father was very aware of what was going on in Europe,
with Hitler invading Austria,
he understood very clearly that Prague was a place
where there were many thousands of refugees looking for a way out,
but they couldn't get a country to take them in.
He felt that people were trying to help the adults,
but no-one was focusing on the children.
And when he came back to England, he said,
"I'm going to go to the British Government and ask for permission
"to bring in unaccompanied children from Czechoslovakia,"
because, yes, they'd given permission
-for Germany and Austrian children...
-What was their reaction here?
Well, he was told that they wouldn't like it,
that they wouldn't want a separate application.
His view was, "I'm going to have a go."
And so he went into the Home Office and asked for permission
and they said, "Sure. No problem.
"Two conditions - one, that you find a foster family for each child
"for the duration of the problems, however long that may be,"
and the second was a £50 guarantee
that would pay for their repatriation when it was safe.
-A lot of money at that time.
-About £2,500 today.
So, he managed to arrange for several hundred,
I believe, wasn't it?
Can you give me the number, the total number?
Well, the number that we have on the reports is 669.
We know that's not entirely accurate.
I've met some who came on the trains but who weren't on the reports.
-669, or thereabouts.
Children, to be on these trains to freedom, to safety, to security,
all through what your father did.
But he wasn't made public
until the time that the ring itself was presented to him, wasn't it,
by a number of the children of the Kindertransport
that he'd actually saved,
-is that correct?
-That's right. Yes.
I think that it's worthwhile pointing out
that here, we have four people, on this extraordinary day,
who were on the Kindertransport who your father actively saved.
And why that's extraordinary in itself is because this lady here
and this lady here have never met.
This is the first time you've both met, is that correct?
-What do you think about that?
I felt I've made a new friend.
-I can't be more complimentary than that.
And I owe your...
my life to your father.
-Thank you very much indeed.
Poland was invaded in 1939,
leading to the Nazi Final Solution to the Jewish question...
..in which some three million Polish Jews were murdered.
As death camps were built,
some managed to escape to neighbouring countries,
but nowhere was safe for long.
Now, Joan, I'm looking at an old suitcase, a gold coin,
a range of photographs of different periods.
Now, surely, that is you.
Yeah. Aren't I gorgeous?
Wonderful. I'd recognise you anywhere.
Yeah! Yeah, that was me in Paris.
I was about 18 months old there.
This is July 1942.
My parents were Polish Jews,
and there was the first big round-up of women and children
of Polish origin.
So, you fled Paris.
-As a family?
Yes. Well, we had parallel journeys.
So we weren't together all that much.
My father had nearly been rounded up in 1941, in June '41,
and he had escaped down into Spain.
He sent the guide back for us, and we didn't turn up,
and he assumed we had gone.
So, he assumed his family was dead?
So, we've got this gold coin. Very striking it is.
-Tell me about it.
-It was in my father's effects when he died.
The reason it's so thin is that it would've been hidden in a heel,
you know? And he must've kept that as a security blanket.
But he never mentioned it.
It was only after he died...
Well, it's an Austro-Hungarian coin.
Gold is international.
-What will always buy you out of trouble is a bit of gold.
-And so you take it with you.
And so you and your sister and your mother
then, in a sense, set off on the same journey, don't you?
-By that time,
the British Government, with a department called MI9,
had developed escape lines
that went from the Netherlands through Belgium,
right through France, across the Pyrenees,
so you are fed into an established escape system.
-I believe so.
-And I think... Did you travel with other people?
Yes, because we were two young children,
the airmen would carry us on their shoulders.
We were in the mountains for several nights, apparently.
And we were crying and hungry, and the guide did say to my mother,
"If you can't shut them up, you've got to suffocate them."
So it was a dangerous journey,
because the Nazis were already in the mountains.
To us, it's an inconceivable threat.
And yet it's something I've heard many times.
-Because the risks were too great.
-You know, many people did slip and fall and break a leg.
And if they were lucky, someone shot them.
-If not, they were left.
But you make it through.
-And then what happened?
Well, the Americans had sent a rescue mission for the children
like my sister, myself and others who had escaped.
But the visas were only for children,
so they wouldn't take adults.
The expectation was that Spain was going to fall,
-and my mother gave us up...
-So, hang on. So, at that point...
-..your family is just torn apart?
-Torn apart, completely, yes. Yes.
-It's this thing about...
what we can't grasp without that experience is the sense of
total destruction of family, of background and of course,
presumably, most of your relatives had been killed?
Yeah. Both sets of grandparents, who were in Poland,
died in the death camps,
not the concentration camps, the death camps.
My mother was one of eight adult...
So I had cousins and aunts
and uncles, and they were completely wiped out.
How did you come to terms with that?
I mean, how are you now?
It's in my shadow, and you never know
when it's going to tap you on the shoulder.
It's there always in your shadow.
It's also got to be in our shadow.
-Thank you very much.
-Thank you, Paul. Thank you.
Today's large gathering was for those who'd recorded testimony
for the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation,
their families and special guests,
including Britain's Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis.
Through this project, your voices WILL always be heard
for generations to come.
Natasha Kaplinsky, who conducted the interviews with survivors,
had her own personal reasons for being involved.
Natasha, your connection with all this began,
I remember it so well when we worked in the newsroom together,
and you did a Who Do You Think You Are? for the BBC,
and you found out about your Jewish ancestry,
and it was pretty harrowing.
It was a brutal experience.
I mean, it was an amazing experience,
but the Who Do You Think You Are? team took me to Belarus,
where I discovered the most awful stories about my father's family
and what had happened to them,
and how many of them had been murdered by the Nazis,
and as a consequence of that programme, many years later,
I was contacted by the Prime Minister's Holocaust Commission
to invite me to be one of the commissioners,
and out of the commission came one of the findings,
a key finding, which was we DID need to record survivor testimony,
and I volunteered for that,
and here we are now with 112 survivor testimonies taken.
-And so important to do it before it's too late.
-That is the point.
We have lost a number of people who I've already interviewed.
But it's been a release for a lot of people.
I think that's been a really big part of this today
and part of why they wanted to leave their testimony,
so that they CAN make a difference,
so that their suffering hasn't been in vain,
and that we and the generations that follow us can learn
from what they have been through.
Natasha, I know they are all so grateful to you
for taking their testimony. I think you've done a remarkable thing.
Well, thank you. It's been a huge honour to meet all of them,
but we've all cried thousands of tears.
I'm sure you have.
By 1942, over 20 main Nazi concentration camps
were in operation,
of which four were extermination camps, where an estimated
three million Jews were killed in the gas chambers.
The most notorious of all the death camps was Auschwitz.
One young man who was liberated from there
chose to keep one of the most hated symbols of the camps.
There's nothing that brings to mind more instantly
the concentration camps than the stripes on these trousers.
-And these belonged to your husband, Joe.
Yes, these were the ones he was actually liberated in.
How old was Joe when he went to Auschwitz?
17. And he was in there for four years.
He was 21 when he was liberated.
And he weighed just 5st then, is that right?
He weighed 5st.
The reason Joe ended up in Auschwitz was that he...
-he gave himself up, didn't he?
-Yes, he did.
-Tell me about that.
His sister was taken to a concentration camp,
and when he found out where she was,
he actually went there and gave himself up,
because he wanted to look after her.
And part of the way he survived at Auschwitz was through boxing.
How did he start?
When he was a youngster,
he was always interested in boxing and sports,
and he boxed for the Germans
because they offered him extra bread,
and he wanted to give that to his sister.
But then she had an illness and...
-And how old was she when she died?
She was 16.
-Can I pick these up?
-Yes, of course.
I have to say, just touching these is...
is a very strange sensation.
-Now, what's interesting is that Joe wanted to keep them.
Because I can imagine other people might have wanted to burn them.
Yes, I can imagine that.
But I think they became so much a part of him
that I don't think he could ever part with them.
They had to be there.
I know at one stage you thought about giving these to a museum.
I did actually take them to a museum,
and then after about two or three weeks, I became really upset.
I felt that I'd betrayed my husband, and I felt that
I'd given part of him away.
I couldn't...I couldn't...
..cope with that.
-And you had to keep them.
-I had to have them back.
We have a picture here, Cybil.
-Of his family.
Yes, of his family.
So, this is Joe here.
Yeah, that's him, yes, there.
And what happened to everyone else in this picture?
-Everyone else died in the camps?
-Except for Joe.
How do you think the experiences that Joe went through
in the concentration camp...
..changed him as a person?
When I was first married,
there were quite a few episodes
where suddenly he would wake up at night absolutely screaming
and screaming and screaming,
just reliving some of the terrible things that went on -
watching people being killed, and the horrors
that never seemed to leave him.
But as he got older, he didn't mention it much any more.
Well, Joe is the only survivor out of this picture.
-But because he survived...
..you're here with your family.
-So, your daughter and two grandsons.
And so Joe lives on.
He will always live on.
When I'm looking at pictures on the roadshow, I tend to
think of artists in their studios, they've been to art school,
and they're creating these beautiful things and it's all wonderful
but, here, we're very forcibly reminded
that people are compelled to make works of art
in the most extraordinary of circumstances.
In this case, a concentration camp, Theresienstadt,
in the north of the Czech Republic, as it is now,
what the Germans called Sudetenland,
and that is where your mother and father,
in this photograph here, found themselves in the mid-'40s.
What's most interesting are these extraordinary pictures
that your father, Erich Lichtblau,
did whilst he was actually in the camp.
He made one cartoon every night...
hidden in the upper bunk bed he had.
He stole papers from where he worked, and paint.
He brought them to his bunk bed and he painted what he saw -
that's what he said when he was criticised,
because he made it full of humour and empathy.
-Yeah, he said, "I just painted what I saw."
But a very dangerous thing to do. I mean, if he'd been
-caught by the Nazis...
-..he would have been off to the East...
Not off to the East, he would have been killed right away.
-Yeah, and this is the first, maybe,
because he shows here the night he arrived at the camp,
in the evening, and he's with fever and he sits on the floor,
because there's no free bunk bed, and a man, he looks like a doctor,
says to him, "What you need is vitamin P," which meant, in German,
"protection". Yeah, vitamin P.
But this drawing is a drawing that he did after the experience,
because he kept coming back to the drawings
he actually did in the camps,
and reworking them and reliving that experience
for the rest of his life,
almost as a form of therapy, reliving the experience.
Exactly. This is maybe the third series he did.
And this is what happened - after he made about 130 pieces like this,
one day he came to his workplace
and he found that four of his artist friends disappeared.
And, so, when he met my mother the same week,
I don't know, because they were separated in different barracks
at the same camp, he told her he's going to burn all the pictures,
and my mother said...
-"I forbid. You are not going to do that
"because if we manage to survive this...
"..nobody will believe us, what we have been through."
It's an important record. Here is another one,
where you've got an old lady picking through a rubbish heap
for scraps to eat, isn't she? And what does "Konkurenti" mean?
"Konkurrenz", which means competition.
Potato peels here,
and the rats and the birds and the old lady are fighting for the food.
So, this is another one that he did later.
-And the thing was, why did he do them later?
Well, because... When my mother forbade him to burn them,
they cut all...all captions, they cut all the words,
they cut every...
-This is an original.
-Yeah, and this is the original.
By cutting them up, storing them separately,
you remove the narrative,
and the Nazis might not realise exactly what he's done.
They'll see three separate pictures that don't mean anything separately.
Put them together, you've got the story.
-The moral of the tale.
-Yeah, and when they survived after the war,
they went back, they found it and my father, he never stopped doing this.
The way I see it is they got murdered by the Nazis
but they kept living another 60 years
because they were never alive after that.
So you think that,
in Theresienstadt, he lost his life?
They kept living. I was born after that.
And they created a life for us,
but they never lived.
Many of the survivors attending today's reception
have brought with them precious items from the Holocaust.
I was nine years old
and I weighed 3.5st and I had no hair,
and we had nothing,
and, eventually, we were repatriated
back to where I was born, in Yugoslavia,
only to find out my whole family was killed.
And we literally had nothing, and it was my birthday coming up,
and the doctors gave me six months to live,
and my grandmother had a gold tooth filling.
If it was in the front, the Nazis would have taken it,
but it was a filling in a back tooth,
so she went to the jeweller and she had this made for me.
It's a little four-leaf clover,
and in the back it says "Omama",
which is Hungarian, means grandmother,
and 10th January 1947.
And this I have
carried with me everywhere.
This was the most amazing birthday present because we just had nothing,
except our lives and, of course,
that is what it's all about, isn't it?
Well, this is a little teddy bear.
You might find it difficult to recognise,
but to me it is very precious because my mother packed it with me
when I came to England, in a small case.
It's the only toy that I had before I left Germany.
The agreement was that the parents could not come along with me.
Now, this meant, of course,
that my parents were still subject to the Nazi...
..this hate of Jews and anything to do with Jews, and, so,
when, in fact, they got notice that they were going to Auschwitz,
they decided that they were going to commit suicide.
Well, I don't know what...
It must have been terrible for them,
but I was in such good hands in England that, in fact...
..when finally I heard,
it didn't have the impact that it would have done
if I'd known at the time.
It's in fact the only toy
that I have, and that's why it's especially precious to me.
Most of the survivors of the camps kept nothing from those dark days,
so even meagre items from the time
assume a great importance, as Natasha discovered.
Zahava, your story has stayed with me for all sorts of reasons,
not least because you were able to keep
an enormous number of items from that period of your life,
and you've brought a selection of them with you today.
How was it that you kept so many things?
Well, it was my mother who really kept these things, but never,
never spoke to me about it
because she didn't want me to look back on what I had gone through,
and just to try to be positive.
And these items represent different parts of your journey, don't they?
-Let's start with this. This was a photograph
-of you and your brother.
-Yeah, that was when he was very young, a baby,
but he was a very young child when he was given away into hiding.
Let's talk about this photograph,
because this possibly was one of the most important things
-that your mother ever had.
-Absolutely, because, for her,
because they had given my brother away at the age of 16 months
into hiding, not knowing whether they'll ever see him again,
and this little photo my mother received in a bag of raw beans.
And what made her even think, but, probably, she thought,
"Why should anyone send me a bag of raw beans?
"We've got no facilities to cook here."
So she sifted through the bag of beans until she found that photo,
and that was a sign that my little brother was alive.
What that photograph must have meant to a mother who was separated from
Food was so important, wasn't it, Zahava?
Your journey took you from Westerbork to Bergen-Belsen,
and these are your dishes from the camps.
One for my father,
my mother and one for me,
and once a day there was some kind of food
given to us, but it was just...
And in the morning, they gave us a kind of coloured stuff,
which they called coffee,
and then nothing until later on, and that was served in these bowls.
Now, this was a plait, and this is your hair that your mother kept.
Yeah, to my mother, it was very important,
and she always looked after that for many, many years
because my mother used to do my plaits every day,
but she kept the hair all the time.
On one occasion, during the night,
because we slept on the third,
on the top bunk, and there was a beam separating
another couple from my mother and me, and on the beam
was a bucket with excrement of the lady who was very seriously ill,
and during the night,
she was so ill and she knocked the bucket over,
and it came all over my hair, so my mother was so upset about it,
so she queued up the next morning, instead of six,
when they used to deliver some coffee,
she went early at five o'clock that she would get a bit more fluid
to try and get it out of my hair.
And she kept my hair right until the end.
She was an extraordinary woman, your mother, wasn't she?
She was, she really was exceptional.
Actually, and this is a very important story,
why I am sitting here is because I was born in Palestine
so I was British protected.
It was literally...we were just outside the train of a cattle cart
going to Auschwitz and somebody said, "This is family Kanarek,"
because the three of us were standing there together,
and we were told, "Don't go onto the wagon
"because you've been taken off this transport."
Had he come a minute later,
we would have been inside the cart
and nobody would have known where to find us.
It was the most extraordinary story,
that piece of luck, that somebody plucked you
from what was going to be a transportation to Auschwitz.
-Zahava, thank you very much
for sharing your stories again today.
The first time I met you, you had an enormous impact on me,
and it's the same again today.
Well, we have a ring in a circular silver box, a photograph or two,
a document or two, telling the story of an extraordinary woman,
and certainly a story that most people will not have known about.
Tell me about her.
This story is about our aunt, Jane Haining,
who was a young girl working and living in Scotland, Glasgow,
and she received a calling. She knew her life's work
was to work with young children, and she worked with
the Church of Scotland and she decided that she would become
a matron in a children's home in Budapest.
Most of the children in the school, they were Christian children,
but there were a lot of Jewish there too, a lot of them were orphans,
and Jane just didn't discriminate between Jews or Christians.
All children were children of God, she used to say.
Would it be true to say that all the children really adored her,
that she was one of those matronly figures who had the authority,
but also somebody who had a certain bearing that you respected
-and you liked her, too?
-She loved them and of course she learnt...
She spent quite a time
learning Hungarian so that she could speak fluent with the children.
Did she make visits home
between then and the outbreak of the war, or...
She did. Well, she made two visits we know.
This picture was her home and holiday, 1939,
and war broke out. Jane was asked not to go back, but she felt,
oh, gosh, her children would need her.
As it's quoted, if they needed her in days of sunshine,
how much more would they need her in days of darkness.
So, tell me what happened with regard to the change
that led to her being taken by the Nazis?
What actually happened?
Because there was Jewish children in the orphanage,
she'd sew yellow stars on the Jewish children's outfits.
She also wanted to maintain contact with home
and she would listen to the BBC radio.
She kept in contact with home.
They had to try and find things to accuse her of,
and that's what she was accused of, those things.
There was a story, wasn't there,
apparently that the son-in-law of the cook...
-He stole some fruit.
-Stole some fruit.
-Jane scolded him.
-Told him off.
-Told him off.
He wasn't going to be told off,
and he goes to the Gestapo and he reports her.
And the following day...
-..the Gestapo come and arrest her.
But again, she felt safe because some of the children report
that she turned to them as she left and said,
"Don't worry, I'll be back in half an hour."
"I'll be back in half an hour."
She was so sure nothing was going to happen to her.
That somehow she was not...
But she goes to Auschwitz and of course...
But she sacrificed, you know, herself for her work
and her children.
This is where I can tell you a bit about the ring, can't I?
-Where do you think she might have got it from?
We think perhaps she was given it from her employer.
In Scotland. So this is a tangible link between her and home.
It's not. I've looked inside the mount and there is a very clear,
distinct mark. It's an Austro-Hungarian stamp.
-So, I think at some point from the time
that she was out there until her removal to Auschwitz,
she made friends, or whatever it may have been,
and someone, probably in gratitude for the extraordinary kindness,
gave her the garnet ring, which has now become something
of a lightning conductor between now and this redoubtable woman,
who was one of the very rare British people
-to lose their lives in the camp.
I'm very privileged to see it. Thank you very much indeed.
I was born in Holland, in Arnhem, a very small Jewish community
and I've brought you a picture of my grandmother
and a picture of my grandfather, who both perished in the Holocaust.
This was their menorah.
This is all we have left from them.
It was buried in a neighbour's garden,
and it was a struggle to get it back.
My father had to dig it up with his pals from the Dutch resistance.
It was wrapped in sack cloths and all sorts, and it was green,
and my sister and me polished it
till we got it back more or less in this condition,
and we have been lighting it every single year
at the Festival of Lights.
After my mother passed away,
I took it home with me and now I light it every single year
on the Festival of Lights, and, obviously, it's extremely precious.
I have a little gold pendant...
what survived, together with me, Auschwitz.
I think that is the only gold
what went in in the camp
and came out with the original owner.
When I was in the camp, it was in the heel of the shoe,
but the heel, with time,
was worn out, so what could I do with this little pendant?
I had even not a piece of paper where to put it.
So, I put it every day in this little piece of bread
what we had and like that,
that survived the camp.
And I wear it every day now.
That is a link between the past, with my family,
and with the future, with my children and grandchildren.
So, as World War II came to an end,
as we had fought our way across Europe,
in April 1945,
-the British Army came across a camp called Belsen.
The problem in Belsen at that point was the overcrowding
had given most people typhus,
so they said to the British, "We have a problem.
"At the end of this road is a camp, and everybody in it has typhus.
"We don't have the infrastructure to deal with this any more."
So, the British Army put together
I suppose what could be called a relief package of doctors...
..padres, all sorts of people who can go to this place
and try and sort out the mess. And they reached that camp
and they reached... one can only imagine
a sight that no-one can imagine,
and one of those people, a padre, was your ancestor.
-Who was he to you?
-He was my father's cousin.
His name was Father John, he was a Catholic priest
and he was with a hospital team, as far as we know,
and he went in at the end of the first week and did what he could,
with not just the survivors, but also with the Germans, as well.
What we have there on the table is what they made to thank him.
So, this jewellery, it was made in Belsen itself.
In Belsen itself, for him.
They didn't have many things to use so it was what they had.
Some of it was the wire from the Red Cross parcels.
The cameo was made from the handle of a toothbrush.
-Because they were bone at the time, apparently.
They knew he had a sister, so the gifts were for her, not for him.
What an incredible thing to come out of something
-that was so dreadful, really.
Now, we have this photograph of a German soldier.
-Yes, he was a pastor.
-The German was a pastor?
The German is a pastor, yes.
And what sort of relationship did your ancestor
have with these guards?
With the guards, he certainly, as a Catholic priest...
They had been Catholic and he heard their confessions,
so he knew, in exact detail, what they had done.
What did he think about that?
He said, "We don't know how we would react in the same circumstances.
"We don't know why they behaved as they did. And who are we to judge?"
And he said, "You have to forgive them."
Wow. Now, that is magnanimous standing in amongst...
-And he kept to that the rest of his life.
He also, I understand, held the first mass for many years.
Yes, you have the picture there.
-There it is.
-The Germans were invited, as well.
He had no baby Jesus, he had to use a doll
and, apparently, the Germans are in tears.
It was the first mass, I think, since 1936.
To have someone who was there who looked at it
in such a dispassionate way,
that actually must have been an incredibly hard thing to do,
because most people's reaction when the British soldiers arrived was,
"Let's kill all these Germans straightaway."
Yes, you can understand that.
But he was very much a very strong Christian.
-And that's how he lived.
-He must have been an amazing man.
Yes, well, obviously, the things we have here are thank-you presents.
The portrait that you see
was another thank-you present.
That was done at Heidenau, and then the icon was also Bergen-Belsen.
So, these objects, so lovingly given to Father John,
-if I may be so bold as to say that?
-What do they mean to you?
Well, they represent what he was as a person.
The fact that he could listen to people
who had done some of the worst things in the world,
that he could help people who were in total distress,
who had nothing to do, nowhere to go,
-lives almost totally destroyed.
It says a lot about the man, and we need more people like that.
After the war, many people were displaced and homeless.
The British Government offered to take in 1,000 young orphans
who had survived the camps.
But the Nazi killing machine had been so effective,
only 732 could be found.
With no families left to look after them,
they were airlifted to Britain and resettled together.
Now, we started talking about Kindertransport
and children leaving Germany before the war.
In a way, we're finishing in a full circle, because we're now
talking about children coming to Britain after the war.
In 1945, 732 surviving orphan children came to Britain
and we are surrounded, here, by family members from that group,
by four fantastic quilts,
which are all to do with the story of that group
and their subsequent lives and families
as they've lived on into our time.
How did this come about?
Well, it was the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the camps in 2015,
and the second generation, the children of survivors,
wanted to do something to commemorate this special occasion
and to honour their survivor parents and grandparents,
so we were wondering what could we make that would include everybody?
And the idea of the memory quilt came about,
so that families could make squares together with their survivor parents
or the children could make the squares,
and we wanted to include all 732 of the children
that came over in 1945 and '46.
And so every square was made by a family who did whatever they wanted.
-And, in a way, it's a story of celebration, isn't it?
Absolutely, it's triumph over adversity.
These people came to England with absolutely nothing.
They were young, they had been through terrible horrors
and they came to England and made new lives and rebuilt their lives.
And they were called "the boys", but they weren't all, were they?
No, out of the 732, there were 80 girls, but as a result,
they were a close-knit group known as "the boys".
Now, you've both got stories, you've both got squares.
-Can we see those?
Sue, show me yours first.
So, this square represents my father, Bob Obuchowski.
He started life in a small town in Poland called Ozorkow
and he went through the ghettos and the concentration camps,
and he was liberated in Theresienstadt
and came to this country.
He was welcomed in this country and he loved this country
and his first days in Windermere he says he never forgot,
particularly marmalade - he'd never tasted marmalade before.
And it carries on through,
he met my mum and married her and had a family
and he became a master upholsterer,
which is why we've set our square as a living room
and these figures represent my mum and my dad on the sofa.
It just represents him, really.
-Well, it's his life.
-It's his life and he ended his life in Redbridge,
a London borough, so very different to Ozorkow in Poland.
-And, Julia, yours?
-This is my father's square.
We chose the Carpathian Mountains as a backdrop.
He came from Czechoslovakia.
This is a photo of him that was taken when he was transferred
from Auschwitz to Buchenwald.
And this is a photo taken of him in the 1970s.
Whenever he used to walk into a room, he always used to say,
"Hello, you lucky people,"
and I think he probably thought that we were lucky.
It's a very powerful part of this celebration
that amongst the families who are with us today
are three survivors
of those original 732,
two gentlemen and a lady are with us today,
along with later generations.
Now, it seems to me the job you've given yourself is to be guardians
of the testimonies of all these... I say "boys".
You've given us something that we can all understand
-and take forward into the future.
It's been a remarkable day,
and while many of the stories we've heard have, of course,
been intensely sad,
others have been of extraordinary courage and resilience,
and all the survivors of the Holocaust,
be they first or third generation,
are all playing their part in ensuring that the memories
and lessons of that most painful of times
will not be forgotten or repeated.
As preparations begin to mark Holocaust Memorial Day, Fiona Bruce and a small team of experts meet a remarkable group of British survivors whose lives were shattered by the events of World War II.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office hosts a special gathering as Jewish families come together to talk - many for the first time on television - about life under Hitler's tyranny. Precious objects that help tell their stories include family silver hidden from the Nazis, a pair of striped trousers worn in Auschwitz and a gold coin used by a family as vital currency when fleeing over the Pyrenees.
Broadcaster Natasha Kaplinsky explains her role in the work of the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation, which involved conducting over a hundred interviews, and she meets again the woman who moved her profoundly as she talks about life in Belsen. Relatives talk about the impact that is still wrought on their family, but there is hope in the form of four enormous quilts celebrating the lives of orphaned loved ones who were given refuge in the UK.
In a rare break from tradition, the items screened will not be valued due to their priceless nature and historical importance.