Survivors in Britain who escaped Nazi Germany mark Holocaust Memorial Day

Survivors who fled to Britain to escape Nazi Germany lit candles and paid poignant tributes to victims today as they marked Holocaust Memorial Day.

Boris Johnson met with a Holocaust survivor and a Second World War veteran and warned Britons not to get 'complacent' about the atrocity.

The Prime Minister spoke with Renee Salt, a survivor of both Auschwitz-Birkenau and Bergen-Belsen, and Second World War veteran Ian Forsyth during a video call from Downing Street to mark Holocaust Memorial Day. 

Leisel Carter revealed how she lost most of her family in the Holocaust and spent time with foster families in Norway and Britain before eventually settling in Yorkshire. 

Jewish community leader Rudi Leavor fled Berlin as a child just before the war and said it was important to have a specific day to commemorate the lives of at least six millions Jews who died at the hands of 'unspeakable evil'.

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Liesel Carter, 85, lights a candle at her window for Holocaust Memorial Day

Liesel Carter, aged 5, taken a year after she escaped Nazi Germany, Leeds, 1940.

Liesel Carter, 85, lights a candle at her window for Holocaust Memorial Day. Liesel (right), aged 5, taken a year after she escaped Nazi Germany, Leeds, 1940

Rudi Leavor, 94, a Jewish community leader who fled Berlin just before the war

Rudi Leavor's first radio in 1929

Rudi Leavor, 94, a Jewish community leader who fled Berlin just before the war. Pictured right in 1929

 

In the call, the pair described the memories of the camps.

Mrs Salt told the Prime Minister: 'All the children, old people, pregnant women, invalids, all went to the right. I went to the left... left to live, right to die.

'I was together with my mother, for which I was very grateful, and so was she. Without my mother, I would never have survived.'

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Mr Forsyth wept as he recalled arriving in Bergen-Belsen in April 1945 to liberate the survivors.

He said: 'We didn't even know the camp was there. When we got up that morning - a beautiful morning, I can remember that - my tank happened to be the lead tank on that particular day, but no-one told us what to expect.

'I'm sorry, I get very emotional when I talk about this. We came along the road and cut over across the fields, there was this camp in front of us.

'I've been back quite a few times, it draws me like a magnet.'

Mr Johnson told them: 'It's so vital that you both have had the courage to continue to share with everybody, with me and the world, your memories of what took place. We can never forget it.

'Your personal memories have been perhaps the most powerful things I've ever heard. What you saw and experienced is horrifying and we must make sure nothing like that happens again.' 

The remarkable story of Leisel Carter who fled Nazi Germany as a child and lost all her family in the war before settling down in Yorkshire also emerged today.

Leisel Carter's journey across Europe to escape Nazism began when she was only four years old after her father died in a concentration camp and her mother moved away.

The young Jewish girl eventually made it to England and was placed with a foster family in Leeds - the city she now calls home.

Leisel, who has five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, counts herself 'extremely lucky' to have escaped Germany when she did just before war broke out. 

Holocaust survivor Zigi made Kate Middleton laugh on the call as he joked that he 'didn't need Prince William' in the meeting because 'she was the one he wanted' (pictured, Zigi, Manfred and Kate)

Holocaust survivor Zigi made Kate Middleton laugh on the call as he joked that he 'didn't need Prince William' in the meeting because 'she was the one he wanted' (pictured, Zigi, Manfred and Kate) 

Leisel, now 85, said: 'I think it's vital we continue to talk about the Holocaust because what happened to Jewish people then is still happening in other countries today.

'People are being killed not only because of their race but because of their religion.

'You see on the news people being murdered and driven out of their homes, just like what happened in Nazi Germany.

'We must use this opportunity and days like this to learn from the past, I hope that's what we can get from today.'

Leisel was born Leisel Meier in Hildesheim, Germany, in 1935.

Her father, who she never knew, was beaten in the streets by the Nazis and died in a concentration camp when she was only 18 months old.

Leisel's mother travelled to England on a domestic visa alone due to visa restrictions, leaving her daughter alone in Germany, either in a children's home or with friends.

Her mother's employers worked tirelessly to find a way to get Leisel to England and safety and she eventually left Germany in 1939 just before war broke out.

In a moving speech which is set to be broadcast at an online memorial later day, Prince Charles said people should try to 'be the light'

In a moving speech which is set to be broadcast at an online memorial later day, Prince Charles said people should try to 'be the light' 

She travelled to Norway via Sweden on a Nansen passport, which was a travel document issued to stateless refugees.

In Norway, Leisel lived with a family called the Alfsens, who she has happy memories of spending one Christmas with.

A short time later she was reunited with her mother in England, although they couldn't live together because of her mother's work.

Leisel lived with three foster families before settling down with parents Jack and Mary Wynne in Leeds.

She stayed in touch with her mother and they spent school holidays together, but they never lived together again.

Leisel lived with the Wynnes until she married her husband Terry, with whom she had three children before his death 15 years ago.

Although Leisel's story has a happy ending she lost most of her family in the Holocaust.

She knows very little about her grandparents and other family members but did learn some of her cousins were killed in Auschwitz.

Their faces etched with fear, Jewish children and mothers from carrying toddlers walk unknowingly to their horrendous fate. The above victims, from Hungary, were among 1.1million people murdered by the Nazis at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp between 1942 and late 1944. Of those, 400,000 Hungarian Jews were murdered in the space of less than three months in the summer of 1944, the above women and children among them. They are pictured walking to the gas chambers

Their faces etched with fear, Jewish children and mothers from carrying toddlers walk unknowingly to their horrendous fate. The above victims, from Hungary, were among 1.1million people murdered by the Nazis at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp between 1942 and late 1944. Of those, 400,000 Hungarian Jews were murdered in the space of less than three months in the summer of 1944, the above women and children among them. They are pictured walking to the gas chambers

Jewish women and children who have been selected for death at Auschwitz-Birkenau stare at the camera as they walk towards the gas chambers in 1944. The building behind them is one of the crematoriums at the camp. The building in the background is Crematorium III. In May of that year, an average of 3,300 Hungarian Jews arrived each day

Jewish women and children who have been selected for death at Auschwitz-Birkenau stare at the camera as they walk towards the gas chambers in 1944. The building behind them is one of the crematoriums at the camp. The building in the background is Crematorium III. In May of that year, an average of 3,300 Hungarian Jews arrived each day

An aunt and uncle committed suicide on the train taking them to Riga, Leisel said.

The retired secretary added: 'I lost most of my family in the Holocaust and was brought up by people who weren't my parents.

'Despite that, I was very lucky to come here and end up with a lovely couple.

'It wasn't until I met Terry and had children that I had a real family of my own. I'm really pleased I came to England.

'I'm definitely a Yorkshirewoman now.'

Over the decades Leisel has told her to story to various groups and, in her words, 'anyone who would listen'.

She would usually be in London for the Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations but will be staying at home today due to the lockdown. 

Jewish community leader Rudi Leavor BEM, 94, who fled Berlin just before the war said he will mark Holocaust Memorial Day with a virtual event - as he says he will 'never forget' those who perished. 

What is Holocaust Memorial Day?

Every January on Holocaust Memorial Day, the world remembers the six million Jews and millions of other minorities who were killed during the genocide of World War II. 

As directed by Hitler’s Nazi party, the Holocaust, also known as the Shoah in Hebrew, is a term to describe the genocide of Jews and other minorities during World War II.

January 27, 1945 is the day the Auschwitz concentration camp in modern-day Poland was liberated by the Soviets.

With the Soviets arriving nearly eight months before the war ended, many had been sent out on a death march and 7,000 sick and dying people remained. 

In the five years that Auschwitz was open, an estimated 1.1 million people were killed at the concentration camp. 90 percent were Jewish and the rest were a mix of Romany people, Soviets and Poles.

One in six Jews killed in World War II died at Auschwitz after being brought to the camp across Europe by train.

By the end of the Holocaust, six million Jewish men, women and children died in ghettos, mass-shootings, in concentration camps and extermination camps.

Studies have also revealed that the true death toll could be as many as 20 million people.

 All over the world, commemorative events will take place to mark Holocaust Memorial Day, but also subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur are remembered to try and end racial violence once and for all. 

 

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Leeds Council is holding a special online event today to mark one of the most tragic events in history - and will include a memorial prayer, a film and poetry.

This year's theme globally is 'be the light in the darkness' and Rudi says the virtual memorials have an opportunity to reach a far wider audience.

Rudi will sing a traditional Hebrew memorial prayer to bring the event to a close - where people will be invited to light a candle at home.

Rudi moved to Bradford, West Yorkshire as a refugee in 1937 after his father secured a visa to become a dentist - after he began to fear Jewish persecution in Germany.

Rudi recalled how his father had been arrested by the Gestapo, the official secret police of Nazi Germany, which was the final impetus for him to seek refuge in the UK.

He said that Holocaust Memorial Day is a 'fiercely emotional' day for him each year, but that it was 'fiercely important' to remember those who died.

He said: 'During the Holocaust many people of different religions and ways of life were killed. Mainly Jews. It is said six million perished.

'It is the anniversary of the liberation of the worst of the concentration camps - Auschwitz. Where at least a million and a half were killed in the most cruel ways.

'I myself have lost relatives. It's important to remember them every day but to also pinpoint one day in the year where we concentrate hard on the lives these people lived and eventually died for.

'It concentrates the mind - there should be one day where all of our thoughts are concentrated on those dreadful memories in case someone forgets about them.

'It is a fiercely emotional day for me every year, but it's fiercely important that we commemorate those who lost their lives and never forget them.

'I think the virtual memorial will be an opportunity to reach more people, especially young people.

'The day will certainly be filled with sadness from the huge and unnecessary loss of life. These people weren't criminals. They were killed because of their beliefs.

'It's a terrible way to die.

'When I wake up in the morning their lives will be all I think about.'

Rudi was born in Berlin on 31 May 1926.

He fled the capital city at age 11 in 1937 after his father became increasingly worried about his family's livelihoods in Germany during the rise of Hitler's regime.

His father secured a visa working as a dentist and was told to pick a place in England aside from London and Manchester - which were too overcrowded with Jewish refugees by that time.

They ended up in Bradford, West Yorks., where Rudi lived his entire life and went on to become a dentist himself.

In 1975 he became President and Chairman of the Bradford Reform Synagogue.

And in 2017 he was awarded the British Empire Medal for his work with the local Jewish Community and in interfaith and community relations.

He met his late wife Marianne, who was also a Jewish refugee from Breslau, in Bradford and had four children, eight grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.

He recalls the dramatic and confusing scenes as his father whispered in his ears that they were to leave Germany.

He said they were 'good Germans' but also 'good Jews' but had to leave family and friends behind - many of whom didn't survive.

Widowed Rudi said: 'My parents, my sister and myself were fully integrated into German society. We were good Germans, but also good Jews.

'We could feel antisemitism coming up, it wasn't a fierce event or situation. My parents hadn't thought of emigrating.

'One day they were arrested by the Gestapo, fortunately for just one day. It gave them the impetus to emigrate.

'I remember the day we left Berlin, my hometown. We were assembled with my grandmother, and her sisters for a coffee.

'I thought of how we were going to leave many relatives, including my grandmother, my uncles, aunts, who it was likely we'd never see again.'

Rudi said that he had no idea of the existence of the concentration camps and that when news finally reached British shores - it felt 'too unbelievable to be true'.

He recalls how BBC's Richard Dimbleby reports at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp were 'so gross, so vicious' that they seemed impossible.

He said: 'On the side of the Allies we had no idea of the existence of these camps.

'There were two Polish guys who escaped from Auschwitz who informed the Western world of the camps and they were hardly believed.

'My family had no idea of these camps or what was happening.

'When the BBC saw Richard Dimbleby's reports, they said they didn't believe him.

'They're so gross, so vicious, and he had to persuade the BBC that what was on camera is what actually happened.

'I learned in 1945 when the news eventually trickled out.

'I was with millions of people who survived the war by emigrating and we were distressed about what was happening to those back home but it was a gradual process.

'The news was hardly believable but eventually it dawned on us that these were hard facts we couldn't disregard.'

He said that the memorial serves as a reminder for all those lives and said that Holocaust deniers are 'foolish' or 'vindictive'.

He said: 'People who deny the holocaust are either foolish - as all they need to do is visit one camp out of hundreds to see the ruins.

'Or they are vindictive, almost criminals to deny because these things are demonstrably present.

'Their existence just cannot be denied. This is why these memorials are important. It's like saying the sun isn't bright or water isn't wet, it's a ridiculous stance.'

Prince Charles led royal tributes in a video shared on the Clarence House Twitter page.

He called on Britons to ensure survivors' stories are remembered forever, while Kate Middleton was left visibly moved as she and Prince William spoke to two Holocaust survivors by video call.

They told the royals: 'All it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to remain silent.' 

The Holocaust was one of the darkest periods in human history, and saw Nazi Germany systematically capture, gas and kill six million Jews.  

Around two-thirds of Europe's Jewish population were murdered by the Nazis with a memorial day held on January 27 to mark the day the infamous Auschwitz camp was liberated.

In a statement to mark the event, the PM said today: 'It's a great privilege to join Ian and Renee on Holocaust Memorial Day, a very important day in the life of our country.

'People get complacent about anti-Semitism. I think in the UK we can get complacent about it and we mustn't.

'It's so vital that you both have had the courage to continue to share with everybody, with me and the world, your memories of what took place. We can never forget it.

'Your personal memories have been perhaps the most powerful things I've ever heard. What you saw and experienced is horrifying and we must make sure nothing like that happens again.'

'You're the one I wanted to see': Holocaust survivor teases Kate Middleton about Prince William as she reunites with two friends in their 90s who met as teenagers at Stutthof concentration camp 

BY REBECCA ENGLISH FOR THE DAILY MAIL AND HARRIET JOHNSTON FOR MAILONLINE 

The Duchess of Cambridge was teased by a Holocaust survivor about Prince William during a video call today as she reunited with two friends in their 90s who met as teenagers at the Stutthof concentration camp. 

Kate Middleton, 39, who is currently spending lockdown at Anmer Hall with the Duke, 38, and their three children, Prince George, seven, Princess Charlotte, five, and Prince Louis, two, joined Zigi Shipper, 91, and Manfred Goldberg, 90, for the virtual meeting.

The call with the men, who first met as teenagers in a Nazi concentration camp, was organised to mark Holocaust Memorial Day today - and highlight the importance of remembering atrocities committed during one of the darkest periods of European history, as well as championing younger generations to ensure that the stories of survivors continue to be shared. 

Both men have met the Duchess before, when she and the Duke visited Stutthof, in Poland, in 2017.

Seeing the duchess appear on screen, Zigi said: ‘I was so happy, you know. I didn’t need your husband. You are the one that I wanted.’

Kate laughed: ‘Well Zigi I will tell him you miss him very much. And he sends his regards as well, obviously....it’s lovely to see you again. ‘ 

The Duchess of Cambridge, 39, who is currently in lockdown at her home of Anmer Hall, was left visibly moved as she spoke to two Holocaust survivors, who told her: ‘All it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to remain silent'

The Duchess of Cambridge, 39, who is currently in lockdown at her home of Anmer Hall, was left visibly moved as she spoke to two Holocaust survivors, who told her: ‘All it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to remain silent'

Holocaust survivor Zigi made Kate Middleton laugh on the call as he joked that he 'didn't need Prince William' in the meeting because 'she was the one he wanted' (pictured, Zigi, Manfred and Kate)

Holocaust survivor Zigi made Kate Middleton laugh on the call as he joked that he 'didn't need Prince William' in the meeting because 'she was the one he wanted' (pictured, Zigi, Manfred and Kate) 

As young boys, Zigi and Manfred both spent time in ghettos and a number of forced labour and concentration camps, including Stutthof near Danzig (now Gdansk) where they met for the first time in 1944.

Built in 1939, Stutthof was the first camp to be built outside German borders and was one of the last camps liberated by the Allies in May 1945. Of the 110,000 men, women and children who were imprisoned in the camp during the Holocaust, as many as 65,000 lost their lives - including 28,000 Jews.

Manfred, who was born in Kassel, central Germany, in April 1930, explained that he was three years old when the Nazis came to power, nine when the war broke out and 11 years old when he was sent to the camps, along with his mother and younger brother, Herman.

His father had escaped to England just two weeks previously and was unable to reach his family.

Zigi and Manfred met one another at the concentration camp and are pictured at Lensterhoff, Germany in 1945 after surviving Stutthoff in Poland

Zigi and Manfred met one another at the concentration camp and are pictured at Lensterhoff, Germany in 1945 after surviving Stutthoff in Poland 

Manfred, who was born in Kassel, central Germany, in April 1930, explained that he was three years old when the Nazis came to power, nine when the war broke out and 11 years old when he was sent to the camps, along with his mother and younger brother, Herman (pictured, Manfred with Herman)

Manfred, who was born in Kassel, central Germany, in April 1930, explained that he was three years old when the Nazis came to power, nine when the war broke out and 11 years old when he was sent to the camps, along with his mother and younger brother, Herman (pictured, Manfred with Herman) 

After meeting in the concentration camps, Manfred and Zigi have remained friends for years and have continued to share their stories to educate younger people about the Holocaust

After meeting in the concentration camps, Manfred and Zigi have remained friends for years and have continued to share their stories to educate younger people about the Holocaust 

Zigi, who worked as a stationer in the UK and went to marry and have two daughters, six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren (pictured, at his 90th birthday celebration with his family)

Zigi, who worked as a stationer in the UK and went to marry and have two daughters, six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren (pictured, at his 90th birthday celebration with his family) 

‘That meant my father spent the war years in England and my mother, with two children, trapped in Germany. So we didn’t see my father, he didn’t know the fate of his family throughout the war for six long years,’ he explained.

‘Post war, with the help of a British welfare officer, a search was begun and took three months before we made contact with my father and he, of course, applied for permission for us to come and join him. And that is how I came to the UK. ‘

Kate asked if they were all able to be together again after that, with Manfred explaining: ‘Yes we lived as a family. Unfortunately it was a bitter sweet union as my younger brother [Herman] was murdered in the camps. Instead of having four of us in the family, there were just three.

Holocaust survivors share their stories  

MANFRED GOLDBERG 

Manfred, 90, who was born in Kassel, central Germany, in April 1930, was three years old when the Nazis came to power, nine when the war broke out and 11 years old when he was sent to the camps, along with his mother and younger brother, Herman. 

His father had escaped to England just two weeks previously and was unable to reach his family. 

Manfred and his family were initially deported from Germany to the brutal Riga Ghetto in Latvia. In August 1943, just three months before the ghetto was finally liquidated, Manfred was sent to a nearby labour camp where he was forced to work laying railway tracks, before being moved again to Stutthof the following year.

He spent more than eight months as a slave worker there, as well as Stolp and Burggraben. The camp was abandoned just days before the war ended and Manfred and other prisoners were sent on a death march in appalling conditions, before he was finally liberated at Neustadt in Germany on 3 May 1945.

Manfred explained that his own life - he was 13 when his brother was killed - was spared as he was able to work in the camps.

As Jewish schools in Germany

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