Tuesday, 27 January, 2015
We have put together 11 life stories of people affected by the Holocaust and genocide which are relevant to the theme of HMD 2015 Keep the memory alive. Below are 'easy read' versions of the life stories which might be useful for your students.

Freddie Knoller
Survivor of the Holocaust

All those who were able to walk, we had to walk from Auschwitz to Gleiwitz...  about twenty or thirty kilometres.  It was January, -20°C with our pyjamas on...  so many people collapsed and so many people ran away into the woods, the Germans surrounded us shooting.          

Ann Kirk


As a ten-year old, my feelings on my journey were a mixture of trepidation, but also excitement – a feeling that my parents had encouraged - allowing me to firmly believe that they would be joining me in the near future.  That, of course sadly did not happen.

Bob Kirk


My parents had been on the first transport out of Hanover, on 15 December 1941, to a concentration camp in Riga, Latvia.  They never returned.

Hedy Klein and her memory book

Hedy was taken to Auschwitz from her hometown of Oradea, leaving her precious memory book behind. After the war Hedy was reunited with her memory book, providing a link to Jewish life in the town before the Holocaust.

Big barrels of what they called soup was brought to us… We didn’t eat for three days, four days almost…  but it was not a soup that you ever                               thought of as soup, it was what we know as dishwater, some kind of a liquid that had twigs in it and sand in it and pebbles in it…  it tasted                                   terrible and then I reminded myself if this is all we get, if there is some nourishment in it, I must force myself and drink it and so I held my                                 nose and I cried and I swallowed and swallowed and swallowed.

Gad Beck
Gay Jewish man who survived the whole of Nazi rule living in Berlin, working for the resistance in the city.

“Gad, I can’t go with you. My family needs me. If I abandon them now, I could never be free.” No smile, no sadness. He had made his decision. We didn’t even say goodbye. He turned around and went back.

In those seconds, watching him go, I grew up.

Gad Beck describing the moment his lover Manfred Lewin chose to return to his family, to be deported to their deaths at Auschwitz

Nods family
Dutch mixed-race family who sheltered Jewish people during Nazi occupation.

‘The story of my parents, which seemed to have been forgotten with time, is now told and I am grateful for that.’ 
Waldy Nods

Berge Kanikanian
Berge has learning difficulties.  He was inspired to make a film about Aktion T4, the Nazi programme which attempted to murder German citizens who had mental or physical disabilities.

I wanted to go out there and improve lives for people with Down’s syndrome and other disabilities. 

Var Ashe Houston

Survivor of the Genocide in Cambodia

My family were evacuated...  The train was packed like sardines… altogether 3,000 of us in one train.  And it took three days… that was a nightmare in itself.  People died on the train, and they wouldn’t stop for us to bury the dead.

Appolinaire Kageruka                 

Survivor of the Genocide in Rwanda

I stayed in Rwanda after the genocide, we tried to go back to work, to find others and make friends, to find out if you have some family members left.  Then we tried to build the country again, to build a family again, to build ourselves again.

Henriette Mutegwaraba

Survivor of the Genocide in Rwanda

Three months after the Genocide, I received a letter from my younger sister, Chantal.  She told me, ‘All our family has been killed…Aunt Marie Rose and I are the only ones who survived.  Why don’t you come back?  I need you, please come back.’ my family was still alive.  I    decided to go back to Rwanda.

Hasan Hasanović

Survivor of the Genocide in Bosnia

It wasn’t going to be an easy journey, but we had no other option.  We wanted to live.


Dr Mukesh Kapila CBE

Witness to the Genocide in Darfur who has campaigned for international action to be taken to stop it

Whole families had come on foot or partially hitching lifts on trucks, making the epic journey of 1,000 kilometres or more to escape the troubles … I knew that things had to be far more serious in Darfur.  People only fled such a distance if there was some real, tangible fear driving them onwards.

- See more at: http://hmd.org.uk/resources/theme-papers/hmd-2014-journeys#sthash.5SQ3x3mQ.dpuf


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