“Following the end of the World War Two, the BBC began a series of special radio appeals on behalf of a group of children who had survived the Holocaust but were now stranded as orphans in post-war Europe. A recording of one of these moving broadcasts still exists in the BBC archives. Seventy years on, Alex Last set out to find out what had happened to the 12 children named in this recording. They had been in many camps, including Auschwitz, Muhldorf, Kauferng, Theresienstadt, Belsen, and Dachau, and the modern-day search took him to Germany, Israel and the United States.
Five of the Holocaust survivors are still alive today, and four of them were well enough to speak to Alex, who was able to piece together their stories of courage and humanity.”
Source: BBC World Service website.
Holocaust survivor Agnes Grunwald-Spier at NWSS
Agnes Grunwald-Spier will be the guest speaker at North West Surrey Synagogue, Weybridge, on Wednesday 15 April at 7.00 pm. Her topic is ‘The Holocaust in Hungary, one Family’s Story’, and her talk will be followed by the annual Yom Hashoah service.
Herself a Holocaust survivor, Agnes was born in Budapest in July 1944. Her mother, holding Agnes in her arms, was saved from deportation to Auschwitz by an unknown official. Later they were sent to the Budapest ghetto in November 1944 and were liberated in January 1945.
A former civil servant, she holds degrees in History & Politics and Holocaust Studies, and was a founder trustee of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, a member of the Board of Deputies of British Jews for 15 years, a member of the Architects’ Registration Board and a Justice of the Peace. Agnes lives in London and is researching a new book. More information is on her website: http://agnesgrunwaldspier.com/
For security reasons, RSVP NWSS: 01932 855400 or email@example.com
Martin was born on 25th December 1925 in Izbica Kujawska in Poland. He had six brothers and two sisters, and lived with his mother and father.
When the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939, Martin was sent to the forced labour camp of Posnan. He was told that he would be able to work and earn money to send back to his family, so he was happy to go. It was only once he arrived at the camp that he realised that this was not the case.
From Posnan, Martin was deported to Auschwitz, where he was reunited with one of his brothers. As he was so young, his brother told him to say he was older and that he was a cabinet maker, which allowed him to survive the selection. The brothers were able to see the remainder of the war out together, and Martin credits his brother with his survival.
After the war Martin learned that the rest of his family had not survived, and his parents had been killed in Chelmno. With no family left in Poland, Martin came to England. In the meantime, his brother had met his future wife and moved to Israel.
Martin arrived in England on 5th November 1947. Here he met his wife, Priscilla. Initially Martin worked for a tailor, but eventually he and Priscilla were able to buy their own clothes shop. They have been married for 55 years and have two daughters, as well as grandchildren and great grandchildren. He is now retired, but continues to talk to groups about his experiences during the Holocaust.
It was fitting that on Shabbat Zachor, when we remember the evil that has been done to the Jewish people, we should honour our Holocaust survivor Martin Bennett, in his 90th year.
A very large congregation attended to show their affection and respect to Martin, who has devoted so much of his time to teaching young people about the Shoah. Representatives of the Holocaust Memorial Day workshops, the Liberal Jewish Synagogue and Coombe Hill Golf Club, joined the community for this special occasion.
At the end of the service the Rabbi outlined Martin’s life story and invited him to comment on recent events in Europe and the rise of anti-semitism in our own country. Martin said that he was not unduly afraid, and that the isolated incidents did not mean that it was similar to Germany in the 1930s. He was sure that Israel would be safe in spite of the threat of ISIS.
Martin had decided that although he had not done so previously, he felt deeply that now was a suitable time for him to say Kaddish for his parents and family who perished in the Holocaust. While the community stood in silence, David Prager sang El Harachamim and Martin recited Kaddish. It was a most moving and emotional occasion for all those present.
As part of the HMD Commemoration by the Royal Borough of Kingston, an art competition had been organised among the students and older schoolchildren of the Borough. The award winning entries depicting the Holocaust in many media, including paintings and photography, were displayed first in the Guildhall, and this Shabbat in our Synagogue, before travelling to other venues.
A delicious Kiddush was given by Martin and Priscilla and everyone had an opportunity to speak to Martin, who had been unable to attend the HMD workshops and Civic Commemoration due to ill health.
Martin Bennett, a Holocaust survivor, was honoured at a special Shabbat on 28 February 2015.
Martin sent a reply to this website which somehow landed on a virtually non-existent page that the webmaster thought he had deleted. The webmaster, to atone for his unmasterly mishandling of that page, and to ensure that Martin’s comment gets the visibility it deserves, has inserted it as a comment on this blog posting (see the Reply at the top of this blog).
For those who were not in shul, Martin briefly spoke at the end of the service, and engaged in a question and answer session with Rabbi Landau. Martin also recited Kaddish for his parents (both died in a concentration camp, along with other members of his family), and David Prager sang El Male Rachamim אֵל מָלֵא רַחֲמִים שׁוֹכֵן בַּמְּרוֹמִים,
The synagogue was full for this profoundly moving occasion.
Martin’s reply, unedited, is reproduced exactly as it was received.