The Holocaust Educational Trust is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of our dear friend Leslie Kleinman BEM

Karen Pollock CBE, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust said:

“Leslie Kleinman was an inspiration to all of us at the Holocaust Educational Trust. He survived Auschwitz-Birkenau, Sachsenhausen and Flossenburg concentration camps before coming to the UK as one of ‘The Boys’ in 1945.

In later years, he worked tirelessly to share his testimony with the next generation, travelling the length and breadth of the UK, for which he was awarded a BEM. Leslie was often invited back to schools year on year, such was the impact he had.

Leslie also accompanied groups on educational visits to Poland and was passionate that the Second and Third Generation continue the hard work of courageous survivors.

He was a religious man, who often spoke of nearly losing faith in G-d during the Holocaust. His commitment to Judaism and the Jewish community was unstinting.

A deeply kind and generous man, Leslie exuded warmth and compassion, always with an infectious smile.

He will be very sadly missed, and our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Miriam and his family.”


Leslie Kleinman BEM 1929 -2021

Leslie was born on 29th May 1929 in Ambud, Romania, into an Orthodox Jewish family. He had three brothers and four sisters, and his father was a Rabbi.

In March 1944 when Germany invaded Hungary, the family’s peaceful world was destroyed. His father was taken, supposedly to dig trenches on the Eastern Front but in fact he was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. A month later, the rest of Leslie’s family were forced to leave their home and enter the ghetto, where they were held for a month.

From the ghetto, Leslie and his family were deported. They were told that they were being sent to Germany to work, but instead they were taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Although Leslie was only 14, he said that he was older and was selected for work. He was separated from the rest of his family who were all taken straight to the gas chamber except for his eldest sister, Gitta, who was selected for work and sent to Bergen- Belsen. At Auschwitz-Birkenau, Leslie worked building a railway and later worked unloading bags of cement from the trains.

Towards the end of 1944, with the Red Army approaching, Leslie was sent on a death march to Sachsenhausen and then onto Flossenbürg concentration camp, where he stayed for approximately three weeks. From there, Leslie and the remaining prisoners were sent on a second death march towards Dachau concentration camp. During the march, while they were in a forest, all of the Nazis disappeared, and Leslie was liberated by American troops. Whilst recuperating, Leslie learnt that his sister, Gitta, had survived the camps but died shortly after liberation.

Leslie was told that the British government were allowing 1,000 child survivors to come to the UK. They could only find 732 children to be a part of the programme. Leslie was one of this group who became known as 'The Boys'. Leslie went on to marry and settled in Canada, having two children. He later returned to the UK.