Holocaust Memorial Day: ‘I stayed alive and my parents died’

Zack Solomon with his grandmother Lilian Levy. Picture: Polly Hancock.

Zack Solomon with his grandmother Lilian Levy. Picture: Polly Hancock. - Credit: Archant

Grandmother-of-two Lilian Levy, 73, of Fordington Road, Highgate, was just three weeks old when the Second World War began.

Five years later, her German Jewish parents died of starvation in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp leaving her as an orphan in the Nazi camp.

“My parents were from Frankfurt and after Kristallnacht they fled to Holland,” said Mrs Levy.

“My mother had a sister here in London and I was born while she was here in August 1939 – the war broke out three weeks later.

“My father couldn’t get to England so we went back to Amsterdam. In 1943, the Nazis put us in a holding camp and then onto Bergen-Belsen.

“It was a camp that was built for approximately 2,000 people and it just got worse and worse – they kept moving people in.

“There was no food. By the end of the war there was 60,000 prisoners and as many corpses lying around. It was horror. What food there was my parents gave to me, I stayed alive and they died.

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“As a child, I didn’t want to talk about it but no one else wanted to talk about it either.

“It has to be learnt as history but I do sometimes worry that I burden my children and grandchildren with such history.”

Zack Solomon, 13, of Bedford Road, East Finchley, is Mrs Levy’s only grandson. He gave the Ham&High his thoughts on the Holocaust.

“It’s a pretty terrifying ordeal. If that happened to me I don’t think I would have been able to walk away and get on with my life like they have.

“I used to read history books when I was growing up and they said that the whole point of teaching people was to make sure it never happened again. It’s all about telling the next generations so that it can’t happen again.

“If people had known what we know now then it would have been difficult for Hitler to take power because we realise scapegoating people doesn’t actually solve problems.”