By Tina Junday
Jan 28 2011
TEARS were shed and candles of hope lit as Coventry commemorated Holocaust Memorial Day.
Crowds gathered for a moment of silence in the Lower Precinct yesterday to remember the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust and those who perished in more recent genocides in Bosnia, Rwanda, Cambodia, and Darfur.
There were speeches from Lord Mayor, Coun Brian Kelsey, and Coventry City Council’s chief executive Martin Reeves.
Actor Adam Matthews, of The Museum of Curiosities, acted the part of Holocaust survivor David Rosenberg, who was raised in Antwerp, Belgium. David was present at the performance and his recorded voice related the sombre tale of pain, heartbreak and hope.
David, who was just 16 when Hitler invaded Belgium, said: “My family, my father, mother and two brothers decided to stay.
“Sometimes we heard soldiers march through the town in the middle of the night singing.
“Any tiny scrap of reality was welcomed with open arms in the hope that things would return to normal again.
“I went back to school and the teacher stared at me and told me that as a Jew I was not to take an active part in the lessons. He would tolerate me if I sat on the back row and kept my mouth shut.
“We set out to travel to France to join my father and older brother Louis. I lost 24 members of my close family who mostly perished in Auschwitz and other camps.”
The family suffered many hardships in France and David’s mum made the heartbreaking decision that her two sons, David and Sami, seek safety in Spain.
The duo managed to cross the Pyrenees but were caught and held in prison. He said: “We slept like sardines and food became scarce. Someone had a brilliant idea. If we drank vinegar it would shrink our stomachs and we would need less food.
“To this day I cannot tolerate the smell of vinegar.”
David eventually made his way to England and settled in Manchester where he completed a degree in chemistry.
He tearfully spoke about the performance. “I’m so emotional. It was very good and came from the heart. I survived by sheer luck every time, he said.”
Holocaust survivor Simon Winston also told his story at Coventry’s Central Library.
He survived a siege of his home town in Poland by the German Army in 1941.
His family were incarcerated in a ghetto where many Jews were killed.
But they escaped and spent two years as fugitives. The family came to Britain in 1947.
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