Survivor's story: 'I often wonder why I was spared out of millions'

Professor Ladislaus Lob

Professor Ladislaus Lob

Hungarian-born Professor Ladislaus Lob and his father were in Bergen-Belsen under comparatively privileged conditions. They were among 1,700 Jews who survived through a financial agreement negotiated by Rezso Kasztner with Adolf Eichmann, adminstrator of the Final Solution. Mr Kasztner’s actions were the subject of great post-war controversy in Israel. Professor Lob entered the camp in 1944 and was there for six months, before being taken to Switzerland. Now 79 and living in the UK, he has two children and five grandchildren

Professor Lob was 11 when he was in Bergen-Belsen, an experience he recalls as “pretty awful. We saw different groups in the camps divided by the barbed wire. There was a group of Dutch people next to us who were treated much worse. They were beaten and wore prisoner clothes. We had our own clothes. I remember being frightened, scared and then forgetting about it.

“I often wonder why I was spared. People blamed me for being alive. They asked how 1,700 people could be spared out of millions. Some said it was because we were rich — it’s not true. Some were rich and some were not. Some rich people paid the ransom for the rest of us.”

Professor Lob remains grateful to Mr Kasztner for his survival. “It’s tragic that Kasztner was murdered [in Tel Aviv in 1957] . He could see that these people were in grave danger and tried to save who he could.”

After 19 years in Switzerland, he joined the University of Sussex in 1963 to teach German. “I came to England for a year to teach at the university,” he says. “The year is still running.”

Last updated: 6:10pm, January 31 2013