REDBRIDGE: Holocaust survivor to tell her story to schoolchildren

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Zahava before her deportation in 1942 with the star which all Jews were forced to wear Zahava before her deportation in 1942 with the star which all Jews were forced to wear

A CONCENTRATION camp survivor will tell her story to children from nine Redbridge secondary schools in an event organised to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.

Zahava Kohn, 76, and her daughter Hephzibah, 48, will show children a remarkable collection of documents smuggled out of the camps by Zahava’s mother, and field questions about the Holocaust, at an event at King Solomon High School on January 26.

Zahava and her parents survived the horrors of Westerbork and Bergen Belsen after being deported from Amsterdam by the Nazis.

Her brother, Jehudi, who now lives in Israel, was saved from the camps after his parents managed to place the 16-month-old in the care of the Dutch resistance.

Remarkably all four family members survived and were reunited when the war ended.

But it was only after Zahava’s mother died in 2001 that a collection of documents, including work cards, sick notes and even the star little Zahava was forced to wear, came to light.

Hephzibah said: “We don’t know how my grandmother was able to hide this from the Nazis or why she kept it a secret for so many years.

“It’s amazing that she took the risk of hiding it at all.

“When we talk to students we often ask them why they think she kept all these documents.

“Many say they think she wanted to preserve the items to prove what happened was real. When you see these items, you cannot deny the Holocaust.”

Zahava added: “My parents wanted us to get on with our lives and they never spoke of the war when it was over.

“When I found all these documents I was amazed, and now, knowing what risks my mother took to preserve this record, I want to make sure that the next generation is made aware of what happened.

“It’s so important to get the message across that this must never happen again.”

Zahava was persuaded by her daughter to write a book based around the documents which was published in 2010.

The pair have visited schools across London, to talk to children about the Holocaust, but this is their first visit to Redbridge.

Hephzibah said: “The fact that the event is taking place as part of events to mark Holocaust Memorial Day gives it added importance.

“There’s a very limited window of survivor testimony left, and we want to make sure as many children hear this story as possible.”

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