A Jewish actress’s discovery of her family’s Holocaust experiences and journey to Auschwitz will be broadcast this Sunday on BBC1.
Georgia Slowe, who plays Perdy Hyde-Sinclair in Emmerdale, visited the camp with 150 sixth-formers as part of the Holocaust Educational Trust’s
Lessons from Auschwitz programme.
When the Nazis raided a convent where Jews were hiding, Ms Slowe’s mother, Zsuzsi, then five, was found to have been left behind. At Auschwitz, Ms Slowe’s grandfather first learned that his wife was dead when he discovered her clothes.
Ms Slowe said: “My mother has always been very reticent in talking about her experiences. My trip was a catalyst for her to open up. I had known her story vaguely, but not in detail. She only found out about my grandfather about three years ago.”
Ms Slowe was approached to make the film, Sunday Life, having played Margot Frank (Anne’s elder sister) and another Holocaust victim in previous TV dramas. In the film, on BBC1 on April 20 at 10am, she can be seen inside the gas chambers, talking to sixth-formers about their responses, and looking at the masses of human hair on display in the camp. Ms Slowe said: “My parents always made sure we knew about the Holocaust, so I didn’t feel any great need to put myself through going. Wild horses wouldn’t have dragged me there if I hadn’t been doing the film. It was more horrible than I imagined.
“I told myself it was only a place, derelict buildings where terrible things happened, but when you get there it’s the worst place on Earth.”
She had nightmares for two weeks after visiting, but recalled that the photographs on display had been especially memorable, noting: “They did the dehumanisation process so well, with people starved, horrible uniforms, roughly shaved heads.
“You can’t tell the men from the women. They cease to look like people, like brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. And in each photo, they are looking at something absolutely terrifying to the side of the camera. One can only imagine what it is.”
Ms Slowe praised the Lessons from Auschwitz programme as “amazing”, adding: “I was so impressed by the kids. I don’t know if I could have handled it at their age.”