Survivors share their horrific experiences

HOLOCAUST survivors in the community were featured in this year's Yom Hashoah event at Giffnock Synagogue on Sunday.

The stories of the journeys of Marion Camrass, Renate McKay, Alice Malcolm, Sidney Mayer, Halina Moss, Ian Ryder, Eve Shrewsbury and Evelyn Strang were told by readers Rosie Quigley and Alex Hyman, while video interviews with Joe Cent, Eva Szirmai, Henry Wuga and Judith Rosenberg were shown.

The interviews were conducted by Claire Singerman for the Gathering the Voices project.

Mrs Szirmai, who was in the Budapest Ghetto recalled: "I don't know how we survived there. It was freezing, there was very little food and the bombing was very heavy.

"The Hungarians were worse than the Nazis, just carrying out their dirty work."

Mr Ryder, who was also born in Hungary, said: "The Germans rounded up all the males and told them that they would be taken to a work camp.

"My father, grandfather and uncles were all taken and never seen again. They perished at Auschwitz."

Mr Wuga, who was in Nuremberg, said: "Even before the Nuremberg Laws, the antisemitism was horrendous.

"Because of the pressure from the Nazis, the teachers and your friends would have nothing to do with you.

"We had to sit in the class, at 10 years of age, while they sang antisemitic songs."

Recalling her journey to Auschwitz, Mrs Rosenberg said: "There were two buckets on the train and no water. A lot of people died on the journey and they used to throw the bodies out of the train.

"When we arrived at Auschwitz, those who couldn't walk were taken by bus or ambulance straight to the gas chambers.

"We were put in barracks. There was only just room to sit - you couldn't lie down. It was so difficult to get used to not being able to lie down the whole night. We just cuddled up to our mothers."

The event was compered by Katie Lewis and Nathan Simpson; candles were lit by UJIA Ethiopian Bar/Bat Mitzvah club members Abi Benshetrit, Daniel Dotan, Ben Jackson, Talia Lovat, Leah Neville, Rachel McGhie and Hannah Oakley and 5th Giffnock Guides Louisa Livingstone, Amy Quigley, Tami Rose, Ester Belokurov, Anna Karpov and Ellie Berlow-Jackson; the memorial prayer and kaddish were recited by Ian Leifer; the Glasgow Jewish Singers, conducted by Eddie Binnie, performed Adoshem Mo-odom Shivisi, Shomeir Yisroeli and Seu Sh'orim.

Among those attending were Scottish Parliament Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh and fellow MSPs Jackson Carlaw and Ross Greer, Kirsten Oswald MP, North Ayrshire Provost Ian Clarkson, South Lanarkshire Provost Eileen Logan and Director of Education Tony McDaid, East Renfrewshire Council Provost Alastair Carmichael, representatives and councillors from Glasgow City and East Renfrewshire Council, rabbonim and Calderwood Lodge senior staff.

Yom Hashoah committee chairman Agnes Isaacs told the capacity audience: "Life was never to be the same again for those who were fortunate enough to survive and had to find a way to rebuild their lives.

"Some arrived here as children on their own on Kindertransport, while others who were survivors of the camps or ghettos had no family or home to return to after liberation.

"The survivors in our community, here in Glasgow, are representative of a once-thriving Europe-wide Jewish community.

"This year we decided to focus on those survivors who came to this country and built new lives against the odds. This bears testament to their enormous strength and courage."

UJIA youth worker Brittany Ritell, speaking about the Art Project undertaken with Calderwood Lodge Primary 7 pupils for the event, said: "We spent time looking at poems written by Holocaust survivors and set about making art from four of these poems.

"The art becomes a metaphor for their generation. In a month's time, these students will be in Amsterdam as part of their Jewish heritage studies. I hope this project will help them connect with what they see."

The artwork was displayed in the shul reception area.

Glasgow Jewish Representative Council co-president Evy Yedd said in her message: "There will always be a small number of people who will make a comment that the Jews should stop talking about the Holocaust.

"There are very valid reasons that this should never be the case.

"Firstly, we shall never forget those precious and beautiful souls who were murdered just because they were Jewish, Roma, Sinti, disabled or gay.

"Secondly, as long as there is still prejudice in our world, speaking about the Holocaust should in some small way help fight the negative attitudes that still prevail within some people."

Mrs Yedd paid tribute to her co-president Nicola Livingston for the work being done to assist East Renfrewshire Council and Glasgow City Council to help refugees and asylum seekers.

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