Holocaust survivor, 90, fights off purse snatcher

Gina Zuckerman, attacked near Manhattan’s Washington Square Park, says she would have shared the $10 she had in cash, if only the robber had asked

gina-zuckerman-635x357JTA – Don’t mess with this bubbe. Gina Zuckerman, a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor from Poland, was pushing her shopping cart near New York’s Washington Square Park on Tuesday when she was jumped by a large woman. The attacker, who was trying to steal her purse, dug her nails deeply into Zuckerman’s arm, causing her to bleed and bruising her.

The assailant tried to convince passers-by that she was Zuckerman’s aide, and the nonagenarian was eventually thrown to the ground, according to reports in DNAinfo and The New York Post.

But Zuckerman didn’t give in. She escaped — purse and all.

“I wouldn’t give it to her. I fought her off. I was stronger than her,” she told the Post. “No woman is going to attack me!”

She only had $10 in her purse and said she would have given the woman five of them if she “needed it badly.”

Of course, Zuckerman has been tough for a long time. After the Nazis invaded her home country in 1939, she spent six years in a German labor camp. She has lived in New York for the past 60 years, currently in a studio apartment in the Chelsea neighborhood. She worked in the advertising industry for 28 years as a Girl Friday, as she called it.

“In those days, it was called a Girl Friday — a girl who had to have answers to everything, know everything,” she told DNAinfo.

At the hospital, Zuckerman needed five stitches and a tetanus shot.

“I have a pacemaker!” she added. “Can you imagine, I didn’t faint!”

Her secret tip for staying strong? Dancing and gymnastics, which she used to practice back in the day.

“I’m a fighter,” she said.


Kiev’s last survivor of Nazi ‘path to death’ revisits Babi Yar 75 years on

Ahead of official memorials commemorating the murder of 34,00 Jews, Raisa Maistrenko recalls her slain family and her non-Jewish grandmother’s lifesaving bravery

 KIEV, Ukraine (AFP) — “We were gathered here, and sent along ‘the path to death,’” says Raisa Maistrenko, pointing to a Kiev ravine that 75 years ago witnessed one of the worst atrocities of World War II.

Maistrenko was only three when the Nazis, helped by local collaborators, slaughtered 34,000 Jews — mostly elderly, women and children — on September 29-30, 1941, as Hitler’s forces advanced toward Moscow on the eastern front.

Maistrenko is the Ukrainian capital’s last survivor of the 29 people who managed to escape execution, either by falling into the ravine before they were shot in the back, to lie on top of thousands of corpses and later flee, or wearing crosses to hide their true religion.

The 78-year-old’s 18 relatives never returned from Babi Yar — a site that unnervingly stands next to Kiev’s main TV tower and is rarely mentioned by modern locals.

Cart in hand

After entering Kiev, Nazi troops told the nearly 200,000 Jews who made up a quarter of the city’s population to pack up their documents, money and warm clothes and go to the ravine or face death.

“All the Jews decided to go because they thought they would be evacuated by train as the railway station was nearby. Nobody could possibly assume there would be a mass execution,” Maistrenko says in slow, hushed tones.

Her father had been drafted into the Soviet army and she lived with her mother in her grandparents’ apartment.

Her grandfather Meer decided that the family should follow the Nazis’ orders and led the death march to Babi Yar with his old cart packed with belongings in hand.

Maistrenko’s non-Jewish grandmother Tanya volunteered to accompany her granddaughter — and eventually saved her life.

Noise and horrible screams could be heard as the mournful procession approached the grave site that was tightly-cordoned by Nazi soldiers — after getting in, there was no way out.

Perhaps already knowing their fate in advance, “my mom and her sister still kept their mother going because she had sore legs,” Maistrenko says.

“But my granny, she held me firmly in her arms and did not let go,” Maistrenko recalled next to the Babi Yar Menorah, a sacred Jewish candelabrum that was installed at the site of executions.

‘Don’t look back’

“At some point, we found ourselves separated from the rest of the family. The troops were beating us with batons to drive us to the place where the shots were being fired,” Maistrenko says, her eyes welling with tears.

Furious and struck with horror, grandmother Tanya began shouting “I am Russian!” and clinging Maistrenko with both hands.

“A soldier tried to hit me with a rifle butt, but my granny shielded me with her shoulder and fell to the ground together with me,” Maistrenko recalls.

The grandmother then stood up, kept crossing herself and shouting “I am Russian” while pushing through the flood of future victims and the armed Nazis troops and Ukrainian auxiliaries.

“We heard the shooting behind us, but granny — she kept holding me — did not look back and kept running until she fell exhausted among the graves in a nearby cemetery.”

Maistrenko said they hid there until sunset before finding their way back home under the cover of darkness.

There, to their relief and eventual survival, no one reported them to the Nazis.

“There were two big houses in our courtyard filled with multi-national families, but all were very friendly to each other,” Maistrenko said.

“When the raids occurred, we took shelter in the basement,” she added, until the Soviet army retook Kiev in November 1943.

As part of events marking 75 years since the mass murders, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin will meet his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko at the administration building Tuesday, ahead of an official memorial at the site Thursday.

“Over this visit we will commemorate the past, but we will look to the future,” Rivlin said before departing on Monday.

Others attending will include the presidents of Germany, Hungary and the European Union’s Donald Tusk, as well as a 100-strong delegation from the World Jewish Congress in New York.


Six Cups

A wedding present, a family history, and Ukraine’s dark 20th century, 75 years after Babi Yar

By Natalia A. Feduschak

The miniature porcelain cups sitting in the china cabinet of our dining room have long been my favorites. From childhood, I admired their delicate form and the images of Napoleon and his second wife, Marie-Louise, Duchess of Parma, framed by decorative patterns. The blue-and-yellow cups accented with golden hues were accompanied by three similarly decorated saucers. As a child I often gazed at them, imagining a more fanciful era.

After trips home from overseas travels, I dusted the cups, placing them back carefully in their traditional place against the cabinet wall. One day, on a phone call with my aunt during travels to a land Marie-Louise had ruled, I mentioned the cups and wondered where my late father had purchased them. He loved to collect antiques and had amassed over the years many pieces of silver, crystal, and china, all displayed in the cabinet.

“They were never your father’s,” my aunt said, much to my shock. And then she shared their story.

One evening in what must have been the spring of 1941, a knock came on the door of the apartment my grandfather and his family inhabited in German-occupied Krakow, Poland. Upon opening it, my aunt found a husky well-dressed Jewish man she had never seen before.

“I am looking for Oleksa Yaworsky,” the gentleman said. My lawyer grandfather often received clients at home so my aunt led the man to his cabinet.

Inside, the man pulled a wooden box from his underneath his coat and placed it on Grandfather’s desk. Opening it, he revealed six small cups, three bearing the image of Napoleon and three of his wife Marie-Louise.

“They are taking us tomorrow,” the man said. “If we survive, I will contact you and take them back. If not, I entrust you with their safekeeping.”

They were, he said, his wedding present.

The man never returned for the contents of his box.


My grandfather was born in 1896 in the village of Kotuziv at a time when relations between Ukrainians and Jews were affable on the territory of what was then known as Eastern Galicia in the Austro-Hungarian Empire ruled by the Habsburgs in Vienna. Although Kotuziv “birthed few intellectuals,” as he put it, my grandfather attended the gymnasium in the nearby towns of Berezhany and Buchach, being the only of his five siblings to get an education.

Like many of his compatriots, my grandfather fought for an independent Ukrainian state during World War I. When dreams of freedom ended for the Ukrainian people, he studied law at the clandestine Ukrainian university in Lviv, established after the Poles abolished Ukrainian-language faculties from the Habsburg era. He married my grandmother, a medical student, in 1922. After the university failed to receive official recognition from the ruling authorities of the Second Polish Republic, he entered Krakow’s famed Jagiellonian University. He again studied law, keeping awake at night by sticking his feet in buckets of cold water. He graduated in 1929, and soon after opened a notary office in Pidhaitsi, a town a mere 12 miles northwest of where he was born. He was active in Eastern Galicia’s political life, traveling through villages educating its Ukrainian inhabitants about politics and their rights.

He ran for a seat in Poland’s parliament from the Ukrainian National Democratic Alliance, the largest Ukrainian political party in the Republic, and won twice, in 1928 and 1930. UNDO was democratic, supported agrarian reform, the expansion of the Ukrainian cooperative movement, and worked closely with women’s organizations.

UNDO supported Jewish civil rights, and protested acts of anti-Semitism and attempts to limit Jewish cultural practices. UNDO concurrently favored Ukrainian economic development, the expansion of cooperatives, and the boycott of non-Ukrainian businesses, which created inherent economic tensions with Jewish- and Polish-owned firms. The party denounced the acts of terrorism practiced by the radical Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists.

In 1935, tired of surrendering part of his salary to the party as required, my grandfather opened a law office in Pidhaitsi. It did not come without a struggle. Short on funds, his fellow Ukrainians found reasons not to lend him money. One day walking through downtown, dejected, he ran into a Jewish friend, who asked why the sad face. Grandfather explained the situation. Immediately, the man offered to lend him the money. My grandfather insisted he sign a promissory note. The man refused.

“You will have a very successful business and pay me back soon.”

My grandfather did, and life in Pidhaitsi took on a regular tempo, as regular as it could be in that politically uncertain time.

The family had rented quarters in a building owned by the rabbi’s brother. My aunt remembers the rabbi coming over and bouncing her on his lap. She’d pull on his beard; he’d give her matzah, a food she loves to this day.

My grandfather continued to be involved in Ukrainian community affairs, traveling throughout Eastern Galicia, propagating ethnic and political rights. Then hell pierced the skies of Europe and the rhythmic lives of millions came to an end.

On Sept. 1, 1939, my grandfather was arrested by the Polish authorities and taken to Bereza Kartuska, an internment camp for individuals the Polish state viewed as a threat. Just over two weeks later, the camp shut down, after staff learned the Soviet Union had invaded their homeland.

It took just as many weeks for my grandfather to return to Pidhaitsi. No sooner had he arrived than a Jewish friend, seeing him, warned, “Oleksa, what are you doing here? The communists are looking for you.”

A day later, my grandfather headed for Krakow, a city he had come to know well. The family settled in an apartment near Wawel Castle. Life in Krakow centered on school, Ukrainian community life, and work. My aunt remembers playing at the park across the street from their home, known as the Planty, and seeing and hearing a melody of recognizable people.

“And then one day, the Jewish children were all gone,” she said in another phone call many years after she shared the story of the wedding cups.

I knew that my grandfather had administered a Jewish business in Krakow. But what I didn’t realize was the first apartment where my family lived in the city was owned by a Jewish businessman, a Mr. Holzner. It is not clear to me how Grandfather came to administer Mr. Holzner’s wholesale watch business, which was located on Swietego Sebastiana 4, a stately street near Wawel Castle. In January and February of 1940, all of Krakow’s Jewish properties and enterprises, with the exception of small shops, were confiscated by the governing German authorities. Germans were given the important enterprises to run while Ukrainians and Poles the less significant, like the watch business.

My grandfather, however, arrived in Krakow in early October 1939 and moved into the Swietego Sebastiana 4 apartment before this order was issued. It may be that Mr. Holzner reached an agreement with my grandfather about running the business before he and his family had fled to Switzerland. Or perhaps not.

What is known is that three Jewish workers stayed on and unofficially ran the company. According to my aunt, my grandfather was able to secretly transfer funds to Mr. Holzner in Switzerland. In a 2008 email, my aunt wrote:

How and how much I don’t know, and eventually Holzner immigrated to Brazil, where he opened a bank. After the war Dido [Grandfather in Ukrainian] wrote to him in Brazil, but Holzner did not answer and Dido did not pursue it further. Holzner’s father fled to Lviv from Krakiv [Krakow] and when he found out that Dido administered his son’s firm (Germans called it “Treuhandel” and Ukrainians referred to it as “Treuhandelka”) he was very pleased. Eventually it was taken from Dido on the basis that “eigentlish es regieren drei Juden’—“in truth it is being administered by three Jews.”

The short period the family lived at Swietego Sebastiana 4 was filled with anxiety. My grandmother and mother were so sick from their Pidhaitsi journey upon their arrival in Krakow the doctor visited them daily. Shortly thereafter, the Germans appeared at the apartment to wrap up and categorize all its valuables. A German officer grabbed a silver sugar cup that sat on a table, prepared to add it to the list of Jewish possessions to be confiscated.

My grandmother yanked it back, saying it was her wedding present. The German, after some begging, relented and let her keep it. But several days later, the Jewish belongings were gone.

Not long after, the family moved to Zelena Street, known today as Jozefa Sarego, No. 4.

In that same 2008 email, my aunt wrote:

About Krakiv: find out where the Jewish Ghetto was located. [Grandfather] had Jewish friends there, especially one friend which he studied law in Krakiv with. He passed through the ghetto to the court house and he always took some food to him. As a lawyer he tried to get them some passes (they needed to have a pass to get out for the day) to prolong their stay in Krakiv so they would not be sent to the concentration camp in Auschwitz. Finally the Gestapo called Dido for an interrogation and the man in charge told him that the Gestapo knows all the fonts of all the typewriters in Krakow and Dido better stop writing petitions if he wants to continue to practice law. So soon afterward Dido closed his law office and opened a notary in the town of Sambir to which he commuted and he lived a few days [a week].

I spent one afternoon in the mid-1980s interviewing my grandfather. Memories lingered on early years. He remembered “Blaustein,” a Jewish neighbor in Kotuziv, and his friend Leo Brinks, who joined the fight for Ukrainian independence and with whom he “lived like with a brother.”

He shared a single episode from Krakow.

“Innocent children were murdered. I had a Jewish friend whose wife and her sister were taken away. He was able to hide the [sister’s] child. They later found the child, and they in this way murdered children, by taking them by their feet and smashing their head against the wall. That is how they killed children.”

The murdered child was a newborn.


Two chapters in my family story underscore the difficulty of the Ukrainian experience during WWII. Both deserve their own essay, but it is important they are mentioned.

The first is that in the spring of 1944, my grandfather was drafted into a Ukrainian division of the Waffen SS, commonly referred to as the Galician Division. At first, he thought the letter he received was a joke because he had never heard of anyone being drafted into this mostly volunteer force. It was made clear to him, however, if he did not want to have “unpleasantness” he would join. His job was to help the families of the “Divizinyky,” as they were known.

The other chapter is that by marriage I am associated with Stepan Bandera, the leader of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. My grandfather knew him personally, and did not have a high opinion of him. He did not sanction the organization’s tactics, even as he understood the fight for an independent Ukrainian state. The unfortunate truth is we bear the legacy of our associations, even if we object to them.

I don’t want to idealize my grandfather. He was not heroic, but he also was not passive or indifferent. And so I believe him when he told me, “I lived well with the Jews.”

That is perhaps why an unknown man entrusted his most important possession to my grandfather, Oleksa Yaworsky. The paradox is that my grandfather, who left Krakow for Vienna near the end of the war, packed up the family’s belongings in a large trunk, including the silver sugar cup my grandmother had wrested from the German. The trunk never reached Vienna. It was lost forever in the last days of war.

The wedding cups were packed in a suitcase and carried by hand to Canada, where my family found refuge. Late in life, my grandfather later divided the set of six cups between my aunt and my mother. The three I grew up with were placed in our china cabinet, their story untold, until a phone call revealed their complicated truth.

Next year the wedding cups will go to a Jewish museum in Ukraine, accompanied by their story. I cannot fathom the loss of millions of Jewish lives during the Holocaust, but I can honor one memory and hold to a promise made decades ago in a Krakow apartment, to ensure their safekeeping. The cups were never ours. For me, this is their lesson.


Holocaust survivor, 100, takes the oath in order to vote

After 16 years in the US, Menia Perelman of South Florida, a Romanian-born Holocaust survivor, becomes a citizen in time for November elections

asdsadasd-e1474842837111-635x357A 100-year-old Holocaust survivor has officially become a US citizen in order to vote in the upcoming presidential election.

Menia Perelman of South Florida, who arrived in the United States at the age of 84, told local media that she wanted to become a citizen so she could vote in the November election.

She took the oath of citizenship in Florida on Friday with more than 100 other new US citizens.

“I am Jewish, my name is Perelman and I went through many difficult times for so many years,” Perelman said after the ceremony.

Perelman was born in Romania and survived the Holocaust, including four years in a concentration camp. After World War II she was not able to enter the United States due to restrictions on the number of refugees, and instead moved to Panama then Peru and later Venezuela. She came to the United States in 1993 to be closer to her daughter after the death of her husband.

Perelman was joined by four generations of her family at the swearing in: her two daughters and their husbands, her granddaughter and her husband, and her six-month old great-granddaughter.

Asked by the CBS local affiliate whom she would be voting for, Perelman replied that she preferred the Democratic nominee. “You know, it’s a personal secret, but I will tell you. Hillary. Hillary Clinton.”


‘Second Generation’ leader tells of need to keep Shoah memory

menachem-rosensaftOne of the most prominent leaders of the children of Holocaust survivors has attacked people who attempt to “pervert the memory of the Holocaust”.

Menachem Rosensaft described as “obscene” those who “wish to twist and distort” the Shoah for political purposes.

Mr Rosensaft, a lawyer, who was the guest of the Holocaust Educational Trust at its fund-raising dinner on Wednesday, was born in the Displaced Persons (DP) Camp at Bergen-Belsen in 1948, and his birth there was against all odds.

Both of his parents, who came from Chasidic families, had been married and widowed previously – in his mother’s case losing her husband and her daughter in Auschwitz. Menachem’s father, Josef Rosensaft, became the head of the central committee of liberated Jews, first in Bergen-Belsen and then in the DP camps in the whole of the British zone in post-war Germany.

Menachem’s mother, Hadassah Bimko, who studied medicine in France before the war, was appointed by the British to work with the skeleton medical team working in the DP camps after liberation.

Before Belsen was liberated by the British army in April 1945, Hadassah was in charge of the children’s barracks at the camp and took in, against the regulations, the then-14-year-old Mala Helfgott and her little cousin from whom she refused to be parted.

Mala Tribich, as she is today, was reunited with Menachem Rosensaft at Wednesday evening’s event.

“My parents decided that they would not leave the DP camp until all the survivors had been taken care of,” he said.

“Many Jews were repatriated very quickly but the British were only allowing a trickle of people into Palestine and the US had quite draconian immigration laws.”

In the event, the DP camp stayed open until 1950, and Menachem was one of 2,000 babies born in that period to survivors of the camps.

In July 1948, Josef was a delegate to the second plenary of the World Jewish Congress, which took place in the quiet Swiss town of Montreux on the shores of Lake Geneva. Josef fell in love with the peaceful atmosphere and moved his family to Switzerland, where they stayed until Menachem was 10, subsequently moving to the United States.

Mr Rosensaft became an eminent lawyer and law lecturer, as well as general counsel to the World Jewish Congress. Today, aged 68, he is one of the leading figures of the so-called Second Generation, although he dislikes the term.

“We, as children or grandchildren of survivors, have to remember that we are not survivors.

“We never suffered; we did not see people killed. We don’t have any of the privileges of survivors.

What we do have is obligation. We are able to absorb their memories and are responsible for passing them on for a purpose – the legacy that it brings to the entire Jewish people.”

He is particularly keen on highlighting the bond between survivors and their grandchildren, saying that often survivors would tell their grandchildren things they could not share with their children.

He took his own daughter, Jodi, to Auschwitz-Birkenau six months after his mother died in 1997, and was amazed when she told him that she recognised parts of Birkenau “just as my mother had described it to her.”

This “transfer of memory”, he says, is the most important way to keep alive the legacy of the Holocaust, even when every survivor has died. “We have to ensure that the lessons of the Shoah become a wake-up call for the world.”

Speaking ahead of Wednesday’s dinner, Karen Pollock, the chief executive of the HET, said she was delighted and proud that the organisation had been able to bring Ms Tribich and Mr Rosensaft together, describing them as “two inspirational individuals”.

She said: “Because of Menachem’s mother’s kindness, Mala lived to see the liberation of Bergen-Belsen by British troops in April 1945”.

Writing in the appeal dinner’s programme, Prime Minister Theresa May praised the HET for “ensuring that the memory of the Holocaust lives on.”


Fund begins reimbursing survivors shipped to Nazi camps via French rail

US administering reparations to those who were not entitled to make claims under existing programs in France

nazi-campPayments have started issuing from a US-run compensation fund for Holocaust survivors deported to Nazi camps via the French rail system.

The $60 million compensation fund established in December 2014 has approved 68 claims and is processing an estimated 700 in total, Stuart Eizenstat, the secretary of state’s special adviser for Holocaust issues, said in a conference call Thursday.

The money comes from France, but the United States is administering and distributing the funds to eligible Americans, Israelis and other foreigners, their spouses and heirs who were not entitled to make claims under existing French programs.

In return, the United States protects France from American lawsuits related to Holocaust deportations of Jews from the country. Several US state governments banned their local transportation services from contracting with the French railway SNCF, a major exporter of rail cars, until the reparations issue was resolved.

Survivors can receive $204,000 under the program, while their spouses can receive $51,000.

The deadline for filing claims has been extended to January. The claims form and other instructions are available on the State Department website.


Warsaw Ghetto archives to open, be available online

World War II documents housed in Poland’s Jewish Historical Institute will be released in Polish and English, some in Hebrew

monument_to_the_ghetto_heroes_in_warsaw_05-635x357The Jewish Historical Institute said it will open an exhibition dedicated to the Ringelblum Archive, which chronicles the history of the Warsaw Ghetto.

The entire archive also will be available for free on the Internet, the Warsaw institute said Thursday at a news conference while presenting details of the project. Individual documents will be described not only in Polish but also in English, and some also in Hebrew.

“Often we do not see that the Ringelblum Archive is part not only of Jewish history, but Polish history as well,” said Marian Turski, vice president of the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute and an Auschwitz survivor.

Jewish Historical Institute researchers will complete work next year on the release of the final four volumes of the Ringelblum Archive, making the complete edition 36 volumes.

“Members of the archive wanted to record testimony of every Jew,” said Pawel Spiewak, director of the Jewish Historical Institute. “Their resistance to the Germans was of an intellectual nature. Their documents are the most important testimony of what happened during the Holocaust.”

The archive was initiated in 1940 by historian Emanuel Ringelblum, who established a secret organization called the Oneg Shabbat to collect documents. The group collected documents from official institutions as well as the press, and the journals and diaries of ghetto residents; German announcements, posters, leaflets and letters that managed to make it to the ghetto; food coupons, and even candy wrappers and tram tickets.

Dozens of photographs, as well as over 300 drawings and watercolors, are also part of a collection of over 30,000 items that are often the last testimonies of the lives, suffering and death not only of individuals, but also entire communities from towns and cities all over Poland.

The first part of the Ringelblum Archive was hidden at night between Aug. 2-3, 1942; the mass deportations of Warsaw Jews to the Treblinka concentration camp had begun 12 days prior. In the face of certain death, a decision was made to secure the archive so it could serve as a testimony concerning the fate of an exterminated nation.

The cellar of the Ber Borochow Jewish School at 68 Nowolipki St. was chosen as a hiding place. The school’s principal, Izreal Lichtensztajn, a member of Oneg Shabbat and one of Ringelblum’s closest and most trusted colleagues, and two of his students — Dawid Graber and Nachum Grzywacz — packed the collected documents into 10 metal crates and buried them in the basement.


Holocaust survivor reunited with son of her saviour

Mala Tribich was 14 when Dr Rosensaft saved her life through an act of kindness and 70-years on, she continues to pay tribute

tribich-rosensaftA Holocaust survivor has spoken of her joy at being reunited with the son of the doctor whom she credits with saving her life.

Mala Tribich was a 14-year-old Jewish prisoner at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in World War Two when Dr Hadassah Bimko Rosensaft provided her with safe haven in a children’s barracks.

Dr Bimko risked Nazi retribution by allowing Ms Tribich into the children’s area despite being too old.

Without her act of kindness, Ms Tribich said the squalid conditions of the adult section of the death camp would have ensured she did not survive to see the end of the war.

The doctor – herself a Jewish prisoner who had arrived at Bergen-Belsen after being detained in Auschwitz – had created an area to care for children in the camp and attempted to barter provisions for the young captives.

Ms Tribich and her five-year-old cousin Anne had visited her when they heard of the place and initially she only agreed to take Anne.

But, seeing the distress the separation would cause the young child, she allowed her older cousin to join her.

At an event in central London, which had received the endorsement of Prime Minister Theresa May, she met Dr Bimko’s son Menachem Rosensaft. Mr Rosensaft was himself born in Bergen-Belsen’s displaced persons camp in 1948.

The pair were pictured embracing emotionally at the dinner hosted by the Holocaust Educational Trust.

Ms Tribich said: “When in Bergen-Belsen, by chance I heard that there was a children’s barracks somewhere in the camp and I immediately set out with my young cousin Anne to find it.

“Arriving there I was interviewed by the woman in charge, Dr Bimko. She explained that while they were overcrowded she would take Anne but I was too old. Anne, who was so anxious and terrified of losing me, refused to stay.

“At that point Dr Bimko agreed to take us both. Although Anne and I subsequently became very ill with typhus this act of kindness undoubtedly saved our lives. Dr Bimko was Menachem’s mother.

“That is why it is so special and so emotional for me to be welcoming him here today. I have never forgotten her, or that act of kindness that saved me and Anne.”

After the closure of the camp 66 years ago, Ms Tribich was taken to hospital with typhus, which she had contracted while being kept there.

She has spent the years since the war sharing her story in schools across the country through the Holocaust Educational Trust.

The Prime Minister wrote that the Trust had done “pioneering work” which turned “words into actions” when it comes to preserving the memory of those killed in the Holocaust.