Holocaust survivor opens exhibition

FRANK Bright survived the gas chambers by pure luck.He said: “I was lucky, nothing else.”Deported from the Theresienstadt ghetto in Czechoslovakia in October 1944 Frank and his mother found themselves at the extermination camp - its name now synonymous with terror - Auschwitz.

FRANK Bright survived the gas chambers by pure luck.

He said: “I was lucky, nothing else.”

Deported from the Theresienstadt ghetto in Czechoslovakia in October 1944 Frank and his mother found themselves at the extermination camp - its name now synonymous with terror - Auschwitz.

He said: “At Auschwitz when you arrived you were put into two rows. There were 1,500 hundred of us and we were put into two rows six abreast.

“I believe one row was men and the other women and children. I was separated from my mother but I saw her in the other line.

“I was overwhelmed with what was happening. I didn't know where I was or what was going on. My mother came up to me and shook my hand. I saw her go up the ramp and turn left.”

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It was when Frank walked up the ramp that the decision between life and certain death was made.

He said: “When it was my turn I was going to follow her. But people were observing us and I think it was probably Mengele, who was known as the angel of death.

“I took no notice and didn't take it in, the man in the black uniform standing there just pointing his finger.

“He may have pointed his finger to the right but I had seen my mother turn left so I turned left. Someone saw and pulled me back. Of the 1,500 on that transport 78 survived.

“Why he picked me I don't know, Perhaps I looked fit but I really don't know. In a group of 1,500 there must have been other fit people. German industry wanted slave labour but the SS wanted to continue their programme of destruction and the two were in conflict.”

Taken to another camp Frank was forced into slave labour just a few days later.

He said: “A man entered our hut in the usual Nazi uniform, he was wearing a party badge. He was the manager of a factory and he had been promised labour. He picked me because I was standing near the door. Three days later we were put on a wagon and sent to another camp.

“There were 350 people here, mostly from the Lodz ghetto and we started work in his factory. The company was called VDM and it still exists today and still makes propellers.”

Working a 12 hour shift with little food Frank was marched each day to and from the camp.

he added: “I was 16. I stayed there for seven months and then the war ended. I don't know why but we weren't put on a death march we stayed put and the Russians appeared the day after war ended.

“They took no notice of us, they didn't even give us a bit of bread. They were interested in watches and vodka - which in Russian means any alcohol. I remember boy soldiers among them who I think must have been orphans they picked up along the way.”

Frank returned to Prague to find all his relatives had died - now a displaced person he was able to find a sponsor and moved to Britain. Today the 79-year-old lives in Warren Lane, Martlesham Heath.

It is Frank's remarkable and poignant memories that are today providing the back bone for Suffolk's Holocaust Memorial 2008.

With an exhibition due to open on January 25 at the Ipswich Corn Exchange, the father of two is featured in a video which plays throughout the exhibition.

Frank is also providing Suffolk schoolchildren with a personal insight into the holocaust. Visiting Deben High School in Felixstowe, on January 24, Frank will discuss with them the fate of his classmates in the Holocaust.

Frank said: “My obligation has been to perpetuate the memory of those people I knew best. There were so few of us left. The Germans were so very thorough.”

Dale Banham, county advisor for humanities at Suffolk County Council, said Frank's story adds a personal dimension to pupils.

He added: “Frank can share his experiences and what happened to his fellow pupils from that school in Prague provides an overview of the whole Holocaust.”

Holocaust Memorial 2008 runs from January 25 to 27 at the Robert Cross Hall, at Ipswich Corn Exchange, entry is free and includes a number of film showings including Schindler's List and The Pianist. For more information visit www.suffolk.gov.uk

Do you have a similar story to tell? What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

The holocaust describes the death of six million European Jews part of a program of deliberate extermination planned and executed by the Nazi regime.

Other groups were persecuted and killed in the holocaust include the Roma, Soviets, ethnic Poles, Slavic people, physically or mentally disabled, gay men, religious dissidents such as Jehovah's witnesses,

It is estimated 1.4 million people were killed at Auschwitz.

It is estimated that the Germans established 15,000 camps in the occupied countries, many of them in Poland.

The transportation of prisoners was often carried out under horrifying conditions using rail freight cars, in which many died before reaching their destination.

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