H&F marks Holocaust Memorial Day on 26 January

You’re invited to hear the true story of a Slovakian family’s escape from Nazi persecution as we mark Holocaust Memorial Day.

The story will by told by Vera Bernstein, a second-generation survivor and the oldest child of Slovakian Holocaust survivors on Thursday 26 January. Her talk is part of our memorial morning, running 10am to 1pm.

Retelling her mother’s story

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Image caption: Image 1: Vera Bernstein giving her presentation in 2019

Vera will be recounting her mother’s memories of the Holocaust and her own work trying to combat the lies of Holocaust deniers.

Her mother, Alice Svarin, was born in 1923 into a Jewish family in central Slovakia. Alice married in 1941 and her and her husband lived in the Nazi occupied fascist Slovak state until August 1944 when German troops arrived.

To avoid further persecution Alice and her husband fled with other local Jewish people into the mountains.

Both of Vera’s parents survived World War Two living in Budapest, her mother with a false identity. Alice’s family were not as lucky, her father was deported and killed early on in the war, and her sister was murdered at Auschwitz.

Vera’s retelling will show how, without help from local people who risked their own lives, her parents would not have survived.

Vera also has first-hand experience of conflict. In 1968 she visited the UK from Slovakia for a holiday, and never returned home because of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia that year.

Throughout her speech Vera will be sharing pictures of Alice who moved to London to live with her after she was widowed in 1975, aged 54.

Alice lived into her 90s and, in 1997, aged 76, recorded her testimony for the Spielberg Foundation.

A community event

After Vera’s speech, guests will have the chance to take part in a question-and-answer session about her family’s experience of World War Two.

The morning will also include an opening prayer from Rabbi Osher Krichevsky, a talk from the Youth Mayor, readings from Cllrs, and a performance by Tiwa King.

Cllr Emma Apthorp, Mayor of H&F, said: “We continue to fight against persecution, hatred and discrimination. Remembering, hearing, and learning from survivors’ Holocaust stories plays a vital role in that fight.”

Everyone welcome

H&F is hosting this memorial morning at 3 Shortlands, W6 8DA.

This building is accessible, and anyone interested in hearing more from Vera and our other speakers are welcome to attend.

You can book your free ticket to our event through H&F’s Eventbrite page. Light refreshments will be served.

National Movement

On Friday 27 January people across the country will be lighting a candle and placing it in their windows at 4pm, as a sign of respect and to honour the many lives lost through all genocides.

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