Sunday 4 December 2016

Last Holocaust witnesses recall the six million dead

Published 01/02/2010 | 05:00

FOUR survivors of the Holocaust living in Ireland last night led a commemoration service remembering the six million Jews who perished under the Nazis.

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The four, who managed to defy the odds and survive life in the concentration camps and ghettoes while most of those around them died in unimaginable horror, went on to start a new life in Ireland.

Last night the survivors were joined by Taoiseach Brian Cowen at Dublin's Mansion House for the eighth annual National Holocaust Memorial Day Commemoration.

The names of 157 victims, whose descendants came to live here, were read from the Holocaust Scroll of Names.

Victim

The youngest victim was Devora Smaiovitch who was born in Czechoslovakia and died just nine months later in a Nazi death camp. The eldest was 76-year-old Rosalia Scheimovitz who met her death in Bergen-Belsen in 1945.

Their descendants began a new life in Ireland, but the memory of their loved ones was never forgotten.

Zoltan Zinn-Collins thinks he was aged just four or five when he was found in Bergen-Belsen, no one knows his exact date of birth. He was later brought to Ireland along with his sister, Edit.

Describing himself as "a final witness of the Holocaust", he told of the devastation at losing almost all of his family.

"As I reared by own children and grandchildren, I realised there was a void in my family. There were no grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins while I was growing up -- they all perished in the Holocaust -- and my children and grandchildren are missing them, too."

Also there was Suzi Diamond who, with her mother and brother, was on the last transport to leave Hungary destined for Auschwitz. The train instead brought them to Bergen-Belsen and it was there that Suzi's mother died just after liberation 65 years ago. She and her brother Terry were the only members of their family to survive.

Of Tomi Reichental's family, 35 members perished in the concentration camps, a harsh environment for a nine-year-old boy. "I could not play like a normal child, we didn't laugh and we didn't cry. If you stepped out of line at all you could be beaten to death. I saw it with my own eyes," he said.

The final survivor, Polish-born Jan Kaminski, was seven when he managed to escape a round-up of the Jews and fled. "My name is Jan and I am the last witness of the Holocaust," he told those gathered last night.

Irish Independent

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