96-year-old Holocaust survivor to hold UK talks for first time

The long-time educator talks at dozens of venues in America every year but this will be his first in the UK


America-based Holocaust survivor Ben Midler

One of the world’s leading Holocaust educators and survivors, Ben Midler, will be coming to London to hold educational talks at three venues.

Ben, 96, has come from America to speak at Brighton College on February 1 at 8:30am, at St Paul’s School on February 2 at 10am, and at The Landsby in Stanmore on January 30 at 10am.

At The Landsby, a luxury retirement community, Ben will be signing copies of his memoirs-autobiography, ‘The Life of a Child Survivor’ written in 1990, which documents his early experiences and survival.

Born in 1928 in Bialystok, Poland, Ben was 12 years old when Nazi Germany invaded Poland. Between the ages of 15 to 17, he was imprisoned in six Nazi concentration camps, and ended up being the only person from his family to survive the Second World War. It was in Auschwitz-Birkenau that Ben’s arm was tattooed with his inmate number, and where he narrowly escaped death or medical experiments by the infamous Nazi-doctor Dr Kosef Menegle by standing on his toes to look taller and older than he was.

Last year on the 80th anniversary of the Bialystok Ghetto Uprising, Ben was honoured by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken as the last surviving person from the city, which had 250,000 Jews before 1939.

Ben was also a speaker at the 2021 San Diego Comic-Con as a “real-life hero” and has been interviewed by the Reagan Presidential Library and CBS News in the US.

Since the 1970s, Ben has dedicated his life to educating future generations about the Holocaust. He now speaks at between 30 to 40 schools a year in the United States with a message that is “universal, positive, life-affirming, and personal.”

Ben is grandfather to Gavin Stein, founder and CEO of luxury retirement village developer Elysian Residences, which operates The Landsby retirement community in Stanmore. It was Ben’s life that inspired Gavin’s in his approach to building retirement homes, which were a way of “repaying older generations for their sacrifices, which have enabled those younger to live a comfortable life.”

This will be the first time that Ben’s story and the details behind his grandson Gavin’s inspiration are relayed to a UK audience.

Ben said: “I believe I must speak up and educate people about the Holocaust. Yesterday is gone, everyone should always live for the future, and what is so important is that there is tolerance, love, understanding, and mutual respect between people of different countries, religions, and races.”

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