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Holocaust survivor to appear as a 3D hologram for future generations

PUBLISHED: 13:12 08 June 2017 | UPDATED: 13:39 08 June 2017

Rudi Oppenheimer being filmed for the Forever Project. Picture: The National Holocaust Centre

Rudi Oppenheimer being filmed for the Forever Project. Picture: The National Holocaust Centre

Archant

A survivor who has spoken to thousands of pupils will appear as a hologram in a museum, for a groundbreaking new project.

Rudi Oppenheimer, 85, who lives in Hampstead, was filmed talking about his harrowing experiences over five days.

The National Holocaust Centre will soon display a 3D projection of Rudi, which will give testimony about his experiences, and even answer questions from visitors.

The advanced technology, part of the centre’s Forever Project, matches the questions posed with the closest recorded filmed answer.

Rudi is one of ten survivors who have been filmed, and his will be only the second hologram on display at the museum.

When I meet Rudi in a Swiss Cottage café, he is warm and very lucid, describing his complex story fluently, with a slight accent that has never disappeared.

Deeply passionate about conveying Holocaust lessons, he has spoken at 1,700 schools in the UK and Germany - and he hopes to one day reach 2,000.

Sipping his tea calmly, dressed in denim, Rudi is unfazed by the hologram technology, and hopes that it will help teach people in future the lessons of the past.

He is concerned that even now, society is repeating the same mistakes.

“We haven’t learnt a thing about it,” he said. “Things like this are still going on. We still don’t look after people well.

“A year ago you could see all these youngsters sitting in Calais, nobody wanted them.

“And I kept on telling these (school) children that just like them, they (the Calais children) didn’t ask to be born, they didn’t ask for their parents to be killed.

“They were sitting there in the big wide world, and the people here in government, just said, we’ve got no room.”

He believes that refugees will bring huge benefit to the country, having himself qualified as an electrical engineer after arriving here as a teenager.

Rudi, who speaks fluent German, Dutch and English, was born in Berlin in 1931, living there until he was four.

His father worked at a bank in Berlin, and managed to get transferred to the Amsterdam branch in 1936, where he believed the family could be safer.

Rudi, his mother, and brother lived in London for six months, where his sister, Eve was born, while his father changed jobs.

After being reunited with their father in Holland, however, the Nazis invaded, and the family were sent to Westerbork transit camp and then to Bergen-Belsen.

Thanks to Eve’s British nationality, they were held in the “star camp” as possible exchange prisoners for Germans who were imprisoned in Britain.

Rudi’s parents sadly died from disease in the camp, but their three children survived.

Eve was able to move easily to London because of their British citizenship, and her brothers managed to get visas to follow her to the UK.

The three of them were cared for by their uncle and aunt and Rudi went to grammar school before going on to be an engineer for Shell.

Rudi’s brother, Paul, passed away 10 years ago, but Rudi still visits his sister Eve, who lives at Spring Lane care home in Fortis Green.

In spite of his experiences, Rudi does not hesitate when he says that he believes in God - even though he does not choose to go to synagogue.

“I’ve got a direct line,” Rudi said, explaining.

“He kept me, He keeps me even today at 85, so many other people are dying, what else do I want?

“I believe in God and I believe someone is up there.”

– For more information and to donate, see: nationalholocaustcentre.net/foreverproject1.

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