Charity is reunited with generous benefactor - all thanks to the JC

'I am pleased they found me after all these years,' says Holocaust survivor, 95


Thanks to the JC, a 95-year-old Holocaust survivor saw a plaque unveiled on Sunday recognising his contribution to a North London learning disability charity.

At the end of March, Centre 404 contacted the JC, explaining that it was trying to track down Moshe Nurtman, a significant donor to the charity’s hall “in memory of his parents Israel and Sarah and his siblings Samuel, Esther and Rosie who died in Treblinka.

“In the following decades we lost all contact with this incredible man whose impact is still felt by the service users of Centre 404 today.”

Searching online for information about Mr Nurtman or his descendants, the charity found mention of a Moshe Nurtman, a resident of Jewish Care’s Clore Manor in Hendon, in a 2017 JC feature.

The JC put Centre 404 in contact with Jewish Care and it was established that its resident was indeed the benefactor.

Born in Poland, Mr Nurtman survived Buchenwald and Theresienstadt, from which he was liberated in 1945. He came to England as one of The Boys, 732 orphaned child survivors, and made his money in the textile business.

At Centre 404, founded to support those with learning disabilities and their families, trustees chair Jean Willson said: “I always talk to new staff about the history and show them the plaque, remembering the Nurtman family who died in Treblinka and how we came to have the hall.

“I explain that 77,000 people with disabilities were also killed by the Nazis so that younger people understand what happened. I mentioned to one member of staff that I had always wanted to find out if any members of the Nurtman family were still in London.”

Once contact was made, Centre 404 emailed Victoria, Mr Nurtman’s daughter-in-law, with a photo of the plaque. She replied immediately that the family would be delighted to meet the charity’s representatives. But she pointed out that the name of Benjamin, one of Mr Nurtman’s brothers, was missing from the inscription.

The family offered to buy a replacement and it was unveiled by three of his grandchildren in the presence of Mr Nurtman, relatives, friends and Centre 404 leaders.

He told the gathering that, as a young man, he had a friend, Yogi Mayer, who was Islington Council’s youth grants officer. Mr Mayer had suggested he make a donation towards a new hall for youth clubs and other events at Centre 404. Mr Mayer commissioned the plaque, which had been displayed since 1972, but Mr Nurtman had never seen it.

“It was very moving to walk into the hall at the centre with my children, grandchildren and daughters-in-law to see the new plaque with all my family’s names remembered,” he said. “I am pleased that they found me after all these years to make this connection with the hall. They were all very appreciative.”

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