Survivors tell MGS pupils about their experiences

MOVING: Itzik Alterman shows his concentration camp tattoo to Manchester Grammar School pupils

MANCHESTER Grammar School pupils heard from three Holocaust survivors on Monday.

Ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day later this month, Ruth Lachs and her husband Werner, of Prestwich, and Itzik Alterman, from Whitefield, told Year Nine pupils how they survived the Shoah and the importance of educating future generations about those horrific events.

Itzik has only recently been able to tell his story of how he survived four concentration camps.

He told how he is the sole survivor of his family, having seen his mother, sister, brother and, later, his father taken away to be killed, and to this day he does not know the location of their remains or the dates they died.

Itzik said: “For a long time I could only talk to other survivors.

“It was too raw, and myself and the other survivors could only talk to each other.

“We formed an unbreakable bond, having survived the worst example of what human beings are capable of.

“But now, as I am getting older, I want younger generations to hear about the atrocities we went through, and to impress upon them the need to make sure it never happens again, and to fight prejudice and hatred.”

As a child, Ruth, 82, spent the majority of the war in hiding and forced to disguise her identity, including being hidden in the sandpit of an Amsterdam nursery.

As conditions for Jews worsened and became more perilous, Ruth was sent to live with a Dutch couple, where she had no choice but to change her identity to that of a non-Jewish orphan.

After the war, her parents were traced through the Red Cross and were reunited when Ruth was nine.

Ruth moved to Manchester in 1962 where she met Werner, and the couple have been married for more than 55 years.

She said: “I often think where would I have been without the bravery of those people in the face of terror?

“Thanks to all the people who helped me, I stand today as a wife, a mother, a grandmother and a great-grandmother.

“My family are the legacy of all those — some of whom lost their lives — who chose to do good when surrounded by evil.”

Werner, 92, was forced to flee Germany after Kristallnacht. It was not until the 1990s that he discovered he and his family were granted visas to leave Germany for Britain thanks to heroic M16 agent Frank Foley.

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