On the 25th of January, two year 12 groups from Woodford County high school and Oaks Park high school visited King Solomon high school to attend a Holocaust workshop in the wake of holocaust Memorial Day (which is today). 

Hepzibah Rudofsky spoke to us on behalf of her mother, Lady Zahava Kohn who survived the holocaust at the age of 8 with her mother Rose, her father Sigmund, and her brother Jheudi. Hepzibah detailed how her mother was born in British occupied Palestine in 1935, after Rose and Sigmund were forced to leave Germany after Hitler became counsellor. Then they all moved to Amsterdam, Holland where Zahava’s brother was born. However, when rules were starting to discriminate against Jewish people and Germany invaded Holland in 1942, Rose and Sigmund decided to send 16-month-old Jheudi would stay with the Dutch Resistance (Non – Jewish people who fought against the Nazi regime’s discrimination). Around a year later, the SS came for the rest of the family to send them to Auschwitz, however the family was saved by a letter from Annie, a connection from the Dutch Resistance, which allowed them to go stay as Zahava was born in British occupied Palestine and could be sued as a battering tool for the Nazis, so the family was kept alive. While they were kept in a Nazi internment camp, Rose and Annie exchanged letters in code to make sure Jheudi was safe. 

However, they were sent to concentration camp – Bergen Belsen, where they faced forced labour, sickness like Typhoid and frostbite and horrible living conditions. The SS soldiers made prisoners write letters to their families, pretending everything was fine and would make them ask for food parcels as the soldiers had also run out of food at this point. When the camp was liberated on 14 April 1945 by the British, many died of overeating due to being starved for so long.  

All the family survived even Jheudi, who was reunited with his family when he was four years old even though he did not believe at first that that was his family due to being separated from them as a 16-month-old. Zahava, after finding her mother’s stash of artefacts from the period after she had died, wrote the book ‘Fragments of a broken childhood’ 

It was amazing to see Hepzibah’s array of artefacts like the plates the family used at Bergen Belsen, the yellow star of David Zahava had to wear to identify herself as a Jew, and vast paperwork like Rose and Sigmund’s work passes. We even were shown a card by an 8-year-old Zahava wishing her parents a great Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year). 

As it is Holocaust Memorial Day, it is important for us to remember that the six million that died were not just a number, but people who suffered by the hand of a genocide. Because if we forget, it gives way for the same events to happen again on a bigger scale.