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It's never too late

This week it was with great pleasure that I was able to put my uncle in contact with a man called Leo Braun who had got in touch after reading my blog.  They spoke on the phone for over an hour and it turns out that Leo had lived an almost parallel life to my mother and uncle during his childhood in France.  My uncle was born in 1929, Leo in 1934 and my mother in 1938 so although they were in the same places they were not in the same age groups.  They were all born in Metz and lived within streets of each other.  Both families were relocated to near Poitiers during the war.  Both sets of parents were arrested during the same round-up in 1942 and none of them survived.  Leo and his elder brother were sent to the orphanage in Rue Lemarck, Paris in 1943 as were my uncles and aunts.



Leo thinks that he is the upper left hand corner of this group in the white shirt. Orphanage at Rue Lemarck. My mother and her twin sister circled in red at the front and their brother Nathan behind them.


Leo’s brother was then sent to the trade school in Rue de Roisiers as was my uncle.  My uncle escaped from there, Leo’s brother did not and was deported and never seen again.  Leo does not remember anything between Rue Lemarck and ending up in Moissac after the war, where my uncle and my mother also lived until 1947.  Leo was also sent to live with an aunt but to New York whereas my mother was sent to London.


Leo told my uncle that in the past 68 years he had never met or spoken to anyone who had lived in France during that time and they promised to speak again.  The moral of the story?  It’s never too late!


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On April 11th a conference was held in a central London hotel by a group of 113 Neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers.  One wonders if these ‘deniers’ have been keeping up with the news this week and in particular the trial in Germany of 93 year old former Nazi guard Oskar Gröning, who has given testimony about the horror of Auschwitz.  “I see it as my task now to oppose those who claim that Auschwitz never happened,” he said. “I saw the crematoria and the burning pits,” he added.  Then he asked for forgiveness.


Eva Kor, an 81 year old Auschwitz survivor who had travelled to Germany from the United States to testify at the trial approached Gröning and told him “Mr Gröning, I have much sympathy for you. I know this is mentally, physically and emotionally hard for you and I think you are courageous.”  The pair ended with a hug.


Eva Kor and her twin sister had survived the death camp but only through having to endure the medical experiments of Mengele.  In a radio interview broadcast by the BBC Eva said “I am not a poor person, I am a victorious human being, who has been able to rise above the pain, forgive the Nazis, not because they deserve it but because I deserve it...... You cannot be free from what was done to you unless you remove it from your shoulder as a daily burden of pain and anger.”


Some have said she is mad but most say she is courageous, humane, forgiving, remarkable, strong and brave.  Read Eva’s account of what happened here.

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