Obituary Roman Halter: Holocaust survivor used art to build better world
Roman Halter was just one of four people from Polish town Chodecz to survive the Holocaust.
Mr Halter, who has died aged 85, took it upon himself in later years to educate the young about the horrors of the Second World War through his art. Some of his works are still on display at the Imperial War Museum today.
Speaking in 2010, Mr Halter said: “We want to build a better world and it’s only through education that we can achieve it.”
Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET), said: “He was a man who survived unimaginable experiences and who will be remembered by all of us at HET for his great intellect, talent , dignity and, above all, his warmth. He will be hugely missed.”
When he was just 12, Mr Halter’s family home was seized when the Nazis marched into Poland. He was forced to watch as his Jewish classmates were brutally murdered. After serving as a slave to the local SS chief, he was sent to the Lodz ghetto where his father and grandfather both died of starvation. His mother and half-sister were sent to an extermination camp.
Mr Halter, who lived in Dickenson Road, Crouch End, with his wife Susan, was incarcerated in Auschwitz and Stutthof concentration camps. He was eventually moved to Dresden as a slave labourer where, despite the terrible conditions, the city’s buildings inspired him to become an architect.
After a brief stint of recuperation in the Lake District with dozens of orphaned Jewish children, he worked for three years as an apprentice at an engineering firm in Slough, where he was taught English, maths and science by ex-servicemen.
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It was around this time that he met his wife at a local swimming club. Mrs Halter competed at the 1948 Olympic Games in London.
The pair shared this interest for years to come, becoming regulars at the Park Road pool in Crouch End for 50 years.
Mr Halter went on to become an architect and ran a successful practice from three cities. After retiring in 1974, he went on to write and paint about his Holocaust experiences, working in stained glass and making royal coats of arms.
In 2007, he published Roman’s Journey – charting his early life – to critical acclaim.
He is survived by wife Susan their three children, Aloma, Ardyn and Aviva, and his grandchildren.