Holocaust Educational Trust Ambassador Blog

Stories from the ghettos: Ambassador reflections on hearing from a ghetto survivor

In this article a few of our Ambassadors share their experiences of hearing from survivors about their experiences of living in ghettos across Europe.

Hearing from Professor Daniel Gold:

In August, Curtis was privileged to attend the 10-day Ambassador Study Visit to Yad Vashem in Israel. There, he met and heard from survivor Professor Daniel Gold.

“On our day about ‘Survivors and Life after the Holocaust’, we had the privilege to hear the story of Professor Daniel Gold. For many of us, this was our first time hearing from a survivor from Lithuania, where over 95% of its Jewish population were murdered. He explained how in Lithuania, many of the atrocities were not performed by Nazi soldiers, but fellow Lithuanians. It was moving to hear his account from such a young age whilst in the ghetto. I was especially struck by his recollection of how he and other children had to hide away in a tiny storage space to survive, fearing that if any of them made one noise, they would all be caught. Daniel Gold told us how he never returned to Lithuania, and spoke to us about his life in Israel after the war. It was eye-opening to hear so much about his experiences following his childhood; from his time in the Israeli airforce, his work as a microbiologist, to his love for motorcycles (which he had even driven to come speak to us!).

It is so important to hear from survivors as every individual has something new to tell us and offers us an insight into the diversity of experiences during the Holocaust.”

- Curtis Burbidge, Regional Ambassador

Daniel Gold shares his testimony to Regional Ambassadors on their study visit to Yad Vashem in 2017

Hearing from Janine Webber BEM:

Mihika took part in the Lessons from Auschwitz Online Project in 2021, where she heard the testimony of Janine Webber BEM.

“I vividly remember the description of her experiences within a Polish ghetto, and how she navigated her life. Her family were forced out of their home, permitted to take only one suitcase and were allocated a single, small room within a damp house. This was to be shared with the family of Janine’s aunt as well as two other families. I shall never forget, perhaps the most harrowing part of her testimony; the moment she described her mother falling ill with typhus, and slowly slipping in and out of consciousness. Janine also spoke of the last moment she spent with her mother. It is undeniably impossible to imagine a childhood so pure and untouched; eventually torn by the fear of constant Nazi raids, day-to-day survival, and the loss of one’s parents.”

- Mihika Chopra, Ambassador

Janine Webber BEM

Hearing from Dr Agnes Kaposi MBE:

In April this year, Amelia invited survivor Dr Agnes Kaposi MBE to speak to students at her school.

“I found her perspective really insightful, especially as she spent time in the Debrecen ghetto as a young girl. She spoke about the uncertainty within the ghetto and how she was sent to work in different places over the years she was there. Sometimes it feels that the stories portrayed in the media focus around the concentration or death camps, but that is not the complete story of the Holocaust. Hearing Agnes speak about the fear within the ghetto made me feel really emotionally connected to her, and I was so grateful to her for sharing her story with the students at school, who really learned a lot from hearing a different experience of the Holocaust.”

- Amelia Trencher, Regional Ambassador

Hearing from Mala Tribich MBE:

The first survivor Jack had the honour of hearing was Mala Tribich MBE.

“She spoke of her experience of being in a ghetto. The whole family was cramped into two rooms. She was never allowed to leave the ghetto and anyone who was caught doing so was severely punished, so it came at a huge risk. She spoke of life inside the ghetto, of school and activities. She described how conditions inside the ghetto continued to deteriorate and became extremely difficult.
“It is always a privilege to hear from a survivor and their unique experience of the Holocaust. Hearing her experience in the ghetto made me think about the Holocaust as a bigger picture for the first time and made me eager to learn more.”

- Jack Thurlow, Regional Ambassador

Abigail heard Mala’s testimony at AmConAtHome in 2020.

“There is a misunderstanding that the Holocaust only occurred in concentration and death camps like Auschwitz-Birkenau, but that is simply not the case. I recall hearing Mala Tribich MBE give her testimony, speaking of her experiences in the ghetto in Piotrków Trybunalski, Poland; the cramped conditions that meant her family were confined to just a corner of a room, how she had to care for her younger cousin after they became separated from their family. How in the early stages, there were no barbed wire fences around the ghetto - a stark reminder that the Holocaust happened in the open, out in public, whilst people stood by. By the time the ghetto was liquidated, the barbed fences had been built, and it was beside them that Mala recalled being just 12 years old, about to be deported to Ravensbrück concentration camp, and then on to Bergen-Belsen.
“Mala's story will forever stay with me, and it is an honour to be able to carry it forward.”

- Abigail Harrison, Regional Ambassador

Mala Tribich MBE