Fireside chat with Janine Webber, Holocaust survivor
Janine Webber, recipient of the British Empire Medal (BEM) , was born in Poland in 1932. Soon after the Nazi invasion in 1941, Janine and her family were forced into a ghetto. Her father was shot, her mother died of typhus, and other members of her extended family also fell victim to disease or were deported to the Bełżec extermination camp. Janine fled from one hiding place to another until the liberation of Kraków in 1945. She survived the holocaust. Tune in to hear Janine's survival story.
This event is hosted by Judeoflare, Cloudflare's Jewish employee resource group, in partnership with the Holocaust Education Trust . Visit their website to learn more about their educational programs and support them.
[Music] [Music] Welcome everyone.
Thanks for joining. And we also have currently around 300 people online. So welcome to everyone here and people that are connected online.
Hopefully you can hear us well.
So just want to start by saying that I grew up in Israel, you know, learning or hearing stories from my grandparents about the Holocaust, about how they fled Poland, how they hid valuables in their clothes and in their shoes, so they could later bribe the soldiers and buy food and stuff.
And also a story about an uncle that managed to escape from a train to Auschwitz and jump off of it and got shot and later joined the partisans to fight the Nazis.
And in school we learn about Holocaust all the time, multiple times a year.
We would have also survivors that come and share their stories and it's very much embedded in the education. And so I feel like I'm privileged that Cloudflare can help support us in having this event here and of course having Janine and Anna from the Holocaust Educational Trust.
Before we kind of jump in, I'd just like to start just by thanking, of course, Cloudflare for supporting us in this event.
And of course, you know, people that helped us like Janet, our head of people team and the amazing London team, Beth and Harriet and the IT team, Wayne, Jade, Nick, Dilshan, of course Val for taking photos and our global event coordinator, Mariana.
So thank you very much.
We're privileged to have you here today. And with that, I will hand it over to Anna.
Thank you very much.
Good afternoon, everyone.
And as I said, my name is Anna.
I'm from the Holocaust Educational Trust and I manage our outreach program at the Trust. And I want to say a few thank yous as well.
Obviously, thank you to Anna and to your colleagues for organizing today.
And thank you always to Janine.
And thank you as well for taking your time out of what I'm sure is a busy schedule, especially everyone in London is always very busy.
So thank you very, very much.
And our mission at the Holocaust Educational Trust is simple.
It's to ensure that everyone everywhere knows about the dark history of the Holocaust and understands its contemporary relevance.
Why it's so important that we learn about the Holocaust today.
We work with schools, football clubs, members of parliament, civil organizations and companies like yours to raise awareness.
We train teachers, we provide resources in schools and we support Holocaust survivors like Janine to share their testimony to hundreds of thousands of students every year.
We also take students to the sites where these atrocities took place.
So yesterday I was in Poland, this morning I was in Newcastle, and now I'm here.
We take students from all across the UK to places like Auschwitz-Birkenau and Bergen-Belsen, the concentration camps where some of these atrocities took place.
The students who come with us on those trips, they then become what's called our ambassadors.
And they're the next generation committed to sharing what they've learned and raising awareness about the Holocaust and where anti-Semitism can lead.
Our nationwide outreach program enables over 50,000 people a year to hear from survivors.
And I'm really, really proud that we can do this in a corporate sector with Cloudflare today.
The Holocaust was the murder of 6 million Jewish men, women and children by the Nazis and their collaborators.
It was a defining event in human history.
Its legacies continue to shape our modern world.
We should all be encouraged to reflect on this history and on our own actions and responsibilities, both as individuals but also as a society.
It's now almost 78 years since the liberation of the concentration and death camps of Europe.
This could be our last chance to hear the eyewitness testimonies of survivors.
As the Holocaust moves from living memory to history, we must ensure that the darkest chapter of our shared history is not forgotten.
So it's my great pleasure and honor to invite you to listen to Janine's story.
Could we welcome Janine Webber, BEM.
Am I hiding part of the screen?
No, I think they can see it.
And that's me, Janine.
So I will be speaking for about 45 minutes.
And I welcome questions and questions are very important for me.
So I hope we will have time to ask questions.
I was born in eastern Poland in 1932.
Are there any mathematicians here?
Yes, my age.
Well, yes, I am 90.
And that's a very big figure.
But, you know, I'm OK.
I'm mobile, I'm healthy, I'm fine.
And I will show you first a few photos of pre-war.
So this is Poland as it was before 1939, before the war.
The black spot, Lvov, was the town where I was born.
Lvov is now called Lviv because actually if you follow the politics of the war in Ukraine, it's now Ukrainian.
Lvov was the third biggest Polish town.
It's a very beautiful town, very cultural town.
It has an opera house, very similar to the one in Paris.
It has the universities, theaters.
And it was a very, still a very cultural town.
And I went to Lvov, or I should call it Lviv, but in my time it wasn't Lviv.
And about 12, 13 years ago was my late husband and took pictures.
And this is the first one.
And this is the second one.
In Lvov, before the war, there were three communities, almost equally divided.
There was the Polish Catholic community.
There was Ukrainian community, also Christians, but Orthodox Christians.
And there was the Jewish community.
And there were over 150,000 Jews who lived there.
Unfortunately, most of them perished, shot by the Nazis, or died of hunger or disease in the ghetto quite often.
And I am one of the very few who managed to survive.
Less than 2% of the Jewish population in Poland survived.
Over 3 million of them perished during the war.
I lived right in the centre of the town.
And there's the first picture I want to show you of my family.
You see my mother.
I think we are somewhere in a small village near Lvov.
We were on holiday.
In those days, people didn't travel as much, as far as they do now.
My mother is lying on the grass.
I think we must be near a river.
My uncle, her brother, is lying on the bed.
I don't know why he's wearing pajamas.
It's very odd.
Behind him is my auntie.
She was about 12 on that photo.
Or perhaps 14.
I'm not sure. She played a very important part in my life.
So I will tell you a little more about her.
She was the last, the tenth child born to my grandmother.
And there are three sweet girls.
And one of them is me.
Who can guess which one?
Wow, you are very quick. Yes.
Am I still so sweet?
Well, it's some years older.
I think I was about four and a half to five.
You know, when I give these talks, often in schools, and I mention to 14, 15-year-old children, this sweet.
Am I still so sweet?
They're very serious.
They don't know what to answer.
Because they're thinking, if they say yes, it's not true.
If they say no, I might be offended.
So there's silence.
I'm glad that you laughed.
The baby in the frame is my cousin Nina.
I will mention her again.
She's about ten months older.
The other girl is just the daughter of some friends.
My uncle later married somebody, a woman, obviously.
And they had a baby, and they were shot.
And this is my father.
And that's the way men used to dress in those days.
Very much like now.
They wore hats, and they always had this stick.
It was supposed to be elegant.
And this is my mother holding my brother's hand.
My brother was two years younger.
He's about two, I think, on that photo.
And I am holding on to her.
I'm about four.
You know, I remember this dress my mother used to wear.
It was yellow, very pale yellow.
And I always thought that my mother was very elegant and very beautiful.
And I think most of the small children think so, their mother.
My parents were, I think, moderately religious.
My father would take me to the synagogue.
As you know, the Jews go to the synagogue on a Saturday morning, for instance.
Our synagogue was an Orthodox synagogue, which meant that men sat on one side and women on the other.
They didn't mix.
But I was a small child, so I was allowed to sit with the men with my father.
And I liked it.
And you know why?
Because the men made a lot of fuss of me.
And, of course, I liked it then, and I like it now.
1939, as you know, the war started.
Germany and Russia had a pact, an agreement, and they divided Poland into two.
Western Poland became German.
Eastern Poland, where we lived, became Russian.
And the Russians came to our town.
The Russians didn't change that much, except I was sent to school because I was seven.
And in Poland, children started, I believe they still do, school when they are seven, a little later than here.
But I was very much aware that my parents were worried about something, and I asked my mother, "What is going on?" And my mother said, "The Russians are sending to Siberia people with money and property." And, of course, they didn't want to be sent to Siberia because, you know, as you know, Siberia is one of the coldest places on our planet.
Well, we were not sent to Siberia because we didn't have very much money.
And the little flat, very modest flat, one bedroom where we all slept in a little room, which was used as a dining room for the kids...
know if it belonged to us, or if we rented it. After the war, I regretted that we were not sent to Siberia because 50% of the people who were sent to Siberia survived the cold weather.
But my parents did not survive the German occupation.
In 1941, the Germans started moving eastwards.
And here is the map to show you the arrow of the aim, as you know, was to occupy, to conquer Russia, or the Soviet Union, as they called it then.
And they came to our town.
No sooner had they arrived than the Ukrainians, who didn't like the Jews, started persecuting them.
And they killed 4,000 Jews almost immediately as Germans arrived.
And if they saw a young woman in the streets who looked vaguely Jewish, they forced her to get undressed.
And you see this photo shows the mother trying to protect her daughter.
This photo, they kicked an old Jew.
They knew he was Jewish because he had a beard.
And the Poles, Ukrainians, and Germans in those days, they didn't have a beard.
And he fell to the ground.
And as you see, the German officer on my right is laughing.
Next to him, Ukrainians.
I don't know if they are soldiers or perhaps officers because a lot of Ukrainians joined the German army, the Wehrmacht.
And they are all laughing, seeing this man on the ground.
Very soon, they started rounding up the Jewish men.
And one day when we were in our flat, our flat was on the second floor.
When we were in our flat, that is my mother, my brother, and I, I heard on our staircase the Germans, the Gestapo, screaming.
They always, in my memory, they were screaming and calling the Jews by very unpleasant names.
My father came running in and he said, "The Germans are after me." And my mother locked the door and my father, in order to escape, jumped from our second-floor balcony onto the first-floor balcony and hid underneath.
The Gestapo, I don't know if you've heard this name, the Gestapo, it was the German police, armed police under the German army orders.
And they were in charge of rounding up and killing and shooting the Jews.
They started banging at our door.
My mother had to let them in.
They didn't find my father and they left.
When they left, I asked my mother, "Why do they want my father?" And my mother said, "It's because we are Jewish." And, you know, as a small child, I never asked myself who I was.
I don't say who I was.
I used to play in the streets with other children as we did in those days.
And I became very frightened.
After a couple of hours, my father came back.
He was still alive, but he had broken his leg.
Very soon, we were told to leave our flat to take a suitcase each.
We were given a room in a small house from my parents, my brother, and myself.
My grandmother, who used to take care of me because both of my parents worked, came with us and she slept in the corridor.
My cousin Nina, whom you saw as a baby in the first photo, who was now 4, I think now 4, she and her parents and her brother, they also were thrown out of their flat, which was on the first floor, and they were given a room.
Because the ghetto was not yet ready.
And you know, perhaps, that every single town in Poland had a ghetto.
It was an area of the town where they were forced, usually surrounded by a wall or a fence, and they would force all the Jews, all the Jewish people, to move into where the conditions became atrocious.
I will tell you a little more about the ghetto.
Now, let me go back to my auntie.
I told you I would give you some more details.
In 1941, my auntie was 17.
As I told you, she was the 10th child.
When she was born, her mother, my grandmother, was always ill.
And nobody really took very much notice of her.
She became a bit of a rebel.
She rejected all our traditions, and everybody was very critical of her.
In addition to that, she got herself a boyfriend.
Now, you know, in those days, a young woman of 17 didn't have a boyfriend, and everybody was very angry.
But her boyfriend, who was also Jewish, he spoke German, and he had a contact among the German soldiers who would warn him if there was a raid, if they were taking away people.
And after a few days there, she came and she said, "Try and hide when you hear the Gestapo approaching." So my parents dug a hole under the wardrobe which was in our room, and when we heard the Gestapo approaching, my mother, my brother, and I, we hid in that hole under the wardrobe.
But there was no room for my father and my grandmother, and they hid in the loft of that little house.
My cousin Nina and her mother, they hid in the wardrobe in their room.
Her father and her brother, they hid in the loft.
The Gestapo found them hiding in the loft.
I don't know what they did to my grandmother.
I remember hearing my grandmother screaming.
Maybe they threw her down the ladder.
They were very cruel.
They took them away.
They didn't find us hiding in the hole under the wardrobe.
They didn't find my cousin and her mother.
And when it was quiet, we came out of the hole, and very soon I asked my mother, "What happened to my father and my grandmother?" And my mother said, "The Gestapo shot them, and they shot Nina's father and her brother, who was about 12." You know, they, at first, when they came, they used to shoot the Jews.
They didn't send them to the camps, because there was, in fact, later a camp in Lvov, and nearby they built a death camp where they would send people to be gassed.
But at first they were shooting the Jews, and in fact, more Jews were shot than sent to the concentration camps.
Eventually they stopped, because they realized that the German soldiers found it difficult to shoot, to kill children.
So really, they felt sorry for them, for the soldiers, rather than for the children or old people or other human beings.
So my father, so my mother was left with two children, and we had no money.
So my mother asked my auntie if she could get some food for us.
My auntie managed to sell some clothes, and the money she got, she gave it to my mother to buy some food, and to Nina's mother.
And I remember my mother eating peels of potatoes, which she would boil, and everything else she would give it to us.
And again, my auntie came, after about another week, and she said, "They are rounding up people, try and hide." And this time we hid in this sort of kennels, like a shed which was in the courtyard.
I was sitting, holding on to my mother, my brother was holding on to her, my cousin Nina and her mother were there.
And I remember looking through the wooden slats, and you know, I was so frightened that I didn't look at the faces of the Gestapo.
I looked at their boots, they always had these shiny black boots.
And for years I used to have this nightmare that the boots were coming to get me.
Fortunately, I don't have it now, this nightmare.
They didn't find us, and they left.
Very soon we were told to move to the ghetto.
They gave us a room for my mother, my brother and myself.
There was a little bed.
My mother wasn't well.
My uncle, her brother, whom you saw in the first photo, in order to protect her, to hide her, carried her into the cellar of that building, because it was very dangerous to be ill in the ghetto.
So many people were ill and dying.
There were children, corpses of children lying on the pavement.
Occasionally they would come with a cart and pick up the corpses.
And if they saw somebody or were told about somebody who was ill, they would take them away and just throw them on top of the corpses, even if they were still alive.
And that's what happened to Nina's mother.
She got typhus.
You know, typhus is a disease which can be cured if there is medication, but we didn't have any.
It's a disease of poverty, of lack of hygiene.
She was still alive, her mother.
Nina was there when it happened.
She was between four and five, and they threw her on top of the corpses.
So that is why my uncle knew about it.
That's why he tried to hide my mother.
[Inaudible] I went down the cellar to see my mother.
She was lying there.
She didn't look at me.
She looked at the dishes.
She didn't talk to me, and I couldn't understand why, because my mother had always been very loving, very affectionate.
And I became -- there were rats running around.
I became so frightened and so upset by this situation that I ran out.
I found my uncle, and I told him what happened.
My uncle said, "My mother has died.
She died of typhus." People who knew her said, using the English word "mazel tov," which means good luck, "Good luck to her.
She doesn't have to suffer anymore." And I was left with my brother.
Let me tell you a little more about the ghetto.
This is the first photo of the ghetto, very beginning.
People were still quite well dressed at the beginning.
You see, on the side, there is a German soldier with a rifle.
They were always -- if they were alone, they were always outside the ghetto.
They would only go into the ghetto if there was a group of them to take away people or to shoot them.
The conditions were terrible.
There was lack of food.
People were dying.
And always, my brother and I, we had to say, "Where do we hide if they come into the ghetto?" And people were begging.
They were hanging people and forcing us to go and look at them to create terror.
People were begging, "You see this little girl?
She's hoping somebody will give her a piece of bread.
You see this woman, her feet are wrapped in newspapers.
You see this little boy, how sick he is.
Somebody has given him a piece of bread." The conditions were really appalling.
A lot of people were dying.
There were corpses lying all around.
My auntie said to me one day, "Try and get out of the ghetto." I noticed that somebody had dug a hole under the fence.
And one morning, my brother and I, we crawled through the hole and we went to the area where there were no Jews, which was safe.
We walked all day, but we didn't know where to go, who to talk to.
So in the evening, we decided to go back to the ghetto.
When we approached the hole, there was a group of Polish children and they said to us, "Give us your coats.
If not, we will call the Germans." And you know, it was winter.
In winter, in eastern Poland, it can be very cold.
We gave them our coats and they let us crawl in.
You know, this experience left me with a fear of young people.
When I see a group of young people while I'm alone, I am always fearful.
It always comes back.
But they let us crawl back into the ghetto.
I found my uncle.
My uncle knew quite a lot of Polish Catholic farmers, and he found a family of farmers to hide my auntie and me.
And also, he found a family to hide my cousin Nina, who was alone, and my brother.
He paid everyone.
I was with my auntie and I, we were in the stables, when one morning the farmer came.
And he started grabbing, holding my auntie, and I could see she became very upset and very frightened.
And she begged him to let her go.
I didn't know what it was all about.
I was just nine.
And you know, in those days, children of nine had no idea about sexual harassment.
I just could see that she was frightened.
And suddenly, she got up and ran out of the stables, and I was left with the farmer.
They locked me in the room.
There was a bed and a bucket, and they would bring me some food occasionally.
And I was getting very cold, so when they came one day, I asked them if they could bring me something to cover myself with.
They brought me an old man's coat, and I noticed that this coat was infected with crawling head lice.
And this might sound horrible to you.
I kept killing them.
And I think having something to do saved my mind, because lying there week after week, month after month, nobody to talk to, you can lose your sanity.
And I remember seeing in the walls animals.
After a few months, maybe three months, they told me to go.
So they just didn't want to keep me any longer, so I left.
And I remembered the hole under the fence.
So I found my uncle, and he found another Polish family to hide me and my brother.
One morning, the daughter of that family, who was about 20, came with a German soldier, with an armed soldier.
And I knew she brought him to kill my brother and to kill me, because by then they were just shooting everybody.
And the other thing is, you know, the Poles and Ukrainians were given money for betraying the Jews for some reason which I cannot explain.
He didn't want to kill me, and they killed my brother.
He was seven.
And they told me to start walking.
I was walking for hours, and I was beginning to get hungry.
And I saw a woman working in the fields.
So I asked her if she would give me a piece of bread.
She wanted to know who I was.
I knew my aunt had told me in the ghetto never to tell anybody that I was Jewish.
So I invented a story, because, you know, I told you, Ukrainians didn't like the Jews, but they didn't get on well with the Poles either.
And I believe that they killed some of them.
So I told her my parents were Catholic and Ukrainians killed them.
So she took me in, and she said I could help her in the house.
She was very kind, but after two or three months, she said she found out that I was Jewish, so she couldn't keep me any longer.
So she bought me a train ticket, and I went back to Lvov.
I had with me the name and address of a young Polish Catholic man called Edek, or Edek in English pronunciation.
Edek was 19.
He was a night watchman of a convent.
Edek was a friend of my family, and when the war started, he told my uncle and my aunt, "If ever you need some help, try and find me, and I will help you." So I found him.
I told him who I was.
He was in his office.
He got up, and he said, "Walk behind me at a distance," because he didn't want to be seen with a Jewish girl.
He reached a little house.
He put a ladder against the walls, and he told me to climb the ladder.
When I opened the door to the loft, I saw my auntie, her boyfriend, my uncle, 13 Jews.
Edek was hiding 13 Jews, and I was the 14th.
He is a hero.
He would have been shot immediately.
We were there when at night they would go down, and they dug a hole under the stable's floor and one night we all went down that hole.
I suppose it was quite well organized.
There was six planks and chairs and a bucket, and so it was very small, so we had to take it in turns to lie on the plank or sit in the chair.
You know it's very hot living underground, and I remember just wearing my underwear.
There was very little food.
My auntie would go out at night.
She would buy some food the following day and come back the following night, and I remember eating slices of dry bread with chopped up raw onions, and I thought it was delicious.
I stayed in that hole for perhaps 10 months or a year.
I'm not quite sure.
After about a year, my auntie said to me, "It's too difficult for a child to live in a hole," so one night she managed to get false papers for me, and one night we left the hole.
She took me to the Polish committee, which was formed to help the Poles.
When we arrived in that office, the woman in the office, when she saw me, she asked my aunt, "Are you sure this girl is not Jewish?" And you know, I'm not surprised because I must...
Oh, I'm sorry.
I think I must have looked terrible.
[inaudible] I think I must have looked terrible to start with.
I was dragging my legs because I hadn't walked for nearly a year, so I was sort of...
I lost the use of my leg muscles.
Also, I was very thin, and I don't know how my face looked.
I don't know how one looks.
Not having fresh air or daylight for a year.
But my aunt, first of all, nobody suspected her because she was blonde, and the Poles always believed that Jews were all dark, but in my family, quite a few people were blonde, so they didn't suspect her, but I wasn't blonde.
My aunt was always, has always been a very strong woman and very, very well-spoken and very convincing, so she convinced her that I was a Catholic.
So I was given a letter to go to a convent.
The nuns took me in.
They put me in a room.
There was a bed, sheets, and blankets, and it was wonderful to sleep in a normal bed with sheets, but you know, I remember in that room, there was a big black cross on top of the bed, and I had never seen a cross, so I became very frightened by it, I remember, and the next morning, one of the nuns came, and she said they couldn't keep me there because I was very ill, and they didn't want all the other people to catch my disease, so she bought me a bus ticket, and I went to Krakow.
I found an orphanage run by nuns again.
Of course, you know, I had false papers, so of course they didn't know that I was Jewish.
They were very kind, but I was a bit worried because, you know, Catholic nuns pray an awful lot.
They pray several times a day, and I didn't know the Catholic prayers, so I was sort of moving my lips, pretending, and I was worried that I might be caught.
Also, I could hardly walk, so when I asked the mother superior in charge, "Why is it that other children can run and I cannot?
I have problems with even walking," and she said to me, and you know, I still remember that, she said, "You have to accept that you will never walk normally." Well, fortunately she was wrong.
I am a good walker, actually.
I walk every day.
And so I wasn't very happy there. So one day when the priest, an elderly priest arrived, and he said he could take four girls.
He had a little cottage and a little garden.
I asked him if he would take me, so I sat in his garden and walked around his bushes, and little by little I recovered the use of my leg muscles.
He was very kind, this priest, but what I didn't like, we slept in bunk beds.
I had the lower bed, and the girl on top would wet her bed, and I was always worried that it might run on me, but I never wanted to complain because he was so kind, and also so old.
I mean, he wasn't, but for a small child.
Anyway, so one day when an elderly couple arrived, and they said they would like a girl to help them in the house, I asked them if they would take me, and that is how at eleven and a half I became a maid.
I worked for them.
They hired me out to work for another family.
Of course, they didn't know I was Jewish, so they sent me to church.
And now let me see, this is Edek, when he was about maybe twenty, young, nice young man.
And this is me in my communion dress, you see, during my Catholic period, as they say, like the Catholic period.
And then when I arrived in that village, I wrote to Edek to give me my address, and nobody replied, so I thought everybody was dead.
But six months after the war, my auntie came, and she asked me if I wanted to go with her.
I said yes, and she took me to Krakow and found a children's home for Jewish children who survived either hidden or false papers, where I met my cousin Nina.
But you know, after the war in Poland, there was still a lot of antisemitism, and the few Jewish people who survived, who went back to their houses, unfortunately some were killed by the Poles.
And this is, there is a Polish film, which mentions this, called Ida, or Ida in English, which was shown in London, actually.
So the people in charge didn't want to stay in Poland.
So here, this is my aunt on my right, we are on holiday, she died about three years ago.
And this is the bus which we took to go to Paris.
When we arrived in Paris, my auntie said to Nina, to me, "What do you want to do?
Do you want to... They are taking the children to Israel.
Do you want to go with the children to Israel?" She wanted to go to the French university, that's what we wanted.
And we said we wanted to be where she was.
Of course, my auntie was still very young, she didn't have any money, so she put us in a children's home for Jewish French children, because you know, France too was occupied by Germany.
And I went to school, my education is French, my language is French, and English as well.
When I was 24, I decided to come to England just for three months to improve my English.
I met an Englishman, and you can guess the rest.
I have two sons and two grandsons, and I love them very much.
I tried to teach my sons to be tolerant, to be understanding of people who perhaps have a different religion or different color of skin, and especially not to allow persecutions, to stand up when they see that people are persecuting others.
Thank you very much for sharing your story.
Do we have any questions from the audience?
There was one question here asking if, where was it?
If Edek was acknowledged as the righteous among the nations, that's, you know?
Yes, fortunately he is, but unfortunately it wasn't my doing, because you see, after the war, there was me and my aunt Put us in a children's home for Jewish children, as I told you.
It was in a small town, maybe some of you have heard.
It's a winter resort called Zakopane, a very beautiful town.
But people who knew that there were Jewish children, they would throw stones at us in the house.
So they decided that people are charged to leave Poland very quickly.
And so we left Poland.
So I didn't have the opportunity of thanking Edek.
The others did, because they left the home when the war finished, and they did manage to say thank you, but I didn't.
And I always wanted to thank him.
So I asked, in fact, when they asked BBC to try and find him so that I can thank him.
And they took six months, but they came and they said couldn't find him.
But then I met a friend of mine called Mark K, you know him.
He, in fact, found the information about Edek.
But by then Edek had died.
He was still fairly young. of cancer, unfortunately.
But his name is in Yad Vashem, which most likely-- I don't know if everybody knows about Yad Vashem here.
Yeah, maybe not.
Yad Vashem is an area near Jerusalem.
It's like a park.
And there are names when you go in, there are names of all the non-Jews who helped or saved the Jews, the righteous.
What are they called?
The righteous among the nations.
Non-Jews that helped save Jews during the Holocaust.
And if you go to Jerusalem, I would recommend you to go.
And his name, his name, he was called Franciszek.
His name wasn't Edek.
He had been in the Polish resistance.
And that's why he changed his name.
And he gave everybody the name of Edek so nobody knew his real name.
Maybe my uncle or my aunt knew.
I don't know.
I didn't know.
And so, in fact, he was caught on two occasions.
Fortunately, he managed to -- he fled and managed to survive.
And a great man, really heroic person.
And so I like speaking about him.
And I'm glad that I know.
I know there is a, you know, a grave in Krakow But his name is in Yad Vashem, near Jerusalem.
And you were also awarded a medal, an award, the British Empire Medal.
Can you kind of share maybe a little about that?
Like when, how, by who?
Well, you know more about these medals than I do.
Well, I don't know why.
I mean, I give my talks everywhere.
Schools, universities, companies, governments, whoever wants, synagogues, churches, whoever wants to hear.
And whenever people want me to come.
And I don't know.
I went to collect it with my son, one of my sons, because one of my sons, unfortunately, lives in Los Angeles.
It's not easy for him to travel.
And one of my grandsons and one of my stepdaughters, I've got a stepdaughter as well.
And so, yes, we went to collect it.
So it was a very sort of serious and official sort of afternoon.
And when I got my medal, I got a photo with my family.
Yes, I still got it.
You know, I'm not going to wear it.
You know, it would be ridiculous.
Thank you very much.
Any additional questions?
Thank you for telling us your story.
It's incredibly valuable.
You've been telling the story for a long time.
What motivates you to keep on telling the story?
And I'll just repeat for the virtual audience.
I appreciate you repeating.
Alonzo asked if -- what did you ask again?
What motivated you?
Yeah, what motivated you to tell the story, to share your testimony and continue telling it?
I wasn't able to speak for 50 years, in fact.
So maybe it's about 20 years.
How long have I been doing this?
About 20 years, 23 or 24 years.
I had some help.
I had to have help.
I found it very difficult to -- well, my sons felt that I ought to -- people ought to know my story.
So they arranged for the Shoah Foundation.
The Shoah Foundation is a foundation which was set up by Steven Spielberg, the filmmaker.
And he paid for it.
Is it okay, the sound?
Because I moved it.
He organized it on the survivors to be witnesses, to testify, to talk about the experiences.
And my sons, one of my sons organized it.
And the other son felt I should write about it.
So I spoke and I wrote.
When I spoke, I became very upset that I couldn't stop crying.
This was in 1996.
So the woman who interviewed me said that I needed help.
And that's why I got in touch with a psychotherapist.
And eventually, after about three years, he said I should try and speak, go into schools.
And that's how I started.
I feel I must carry on speaking.
If I didn't speak, people wouldn't know what happened to my family, to the Jews involved.
Most of them were killed.
All my family, very few survived.
And so I have to carry on.
And I must say I'm always well received, and Anna and Holocaust Education Trust.
They send me it in many places.
During the pandemic, I was on Zoom all the time.
And, you know, I managed.
So I carried on.
And I want to carry on.
I want to speak.
It's very important for people to know what happened.
So we don't -- we remember.
We don't want to forget what happened to six million Jews, to my family.
And on that note, is there any message or anything that you'd like the audience to take away, especially during these times when we see anti-Semitism rising in the U.S.?
You are right.
Not only in the U.S., everywhere there is anti-Semitism rising.
I'm very concerned about the situation in the world, about people fighting each other, and people being persecuted.
So you are young, and you can do something about it.
So I hope -- well, I'd like you to promise to stand up to racism, anti-Semitism, and if you see any bullying, any persecution, to be there, not to be shy.
Thank you very much.
Thank you for asking.
And just as a little token, we also wanted to give you some flowers.
Thank you for coming here today and speaking with us.