Holocaust survivors and their descendants recreate historic Prague photograph 74 years later

The orphans posed for the picture before they left for a new life in the UK in August 1945


Almost 250 Holocaust survivors and their families gathered in the Czech capital Prague last weekend to commemorate their liberation 74 years ago.

A key part of the event was the recreation of a photograph taken of the orphans in the heart of Prague’s old town prior to their departure for the UK in August 1945.

The British government granted 732 child survivors two-year visas to aid their recovery and rehabilitation after their ordeals in the Nazi concentration camps.

The new photograph included six of the original survivors and members of the second, third and even fourth generations of their families, some of them tiny babies.

The commemorations were organised by the ’45 Aid Society. which represents the survivors and their families.

Its chairman Angela Cohen said the new photograph was “living proof of how our loved ones, this extraordinary group of young men and women, and boys and girls, shaped new lives and became model citizens in their adopted countries. It is a living testimony to their survival.”

The survivors and their families finally found homes across the globe. Barbara Cook had flown in from San Francisco for 48 hours to remember her father Jacob Banach.

Ms Cook pointed out that she had the choice to do so: “It was a stark reminder that our father did not have that choice. His only choice was to fight to survive.” He never spoke about his experiences and for her and her sister Jenny, who lives in London, the trip had been a journey of discovery.

The survivors and their families then travelled to the former Terezin ghetto north of Prague, where three hundred of the orphans were liberated in the closing moments of Second World War.

Survivor Sir Ben Helfgot said after the moving memorial service in the former ghetto cemetery that this was not just a moment to remember the six million who died in the Holocaust but a chance to mourn what could have been; to think of the children that would have been born to those who lost their lives and what they would have contributed to the world.

Also at the memorial service was 92-year-old Sam Freiman, who arrived in Terezin on a death march just before the liberation.

Mr Freiman said that it was important to remember the number of anonymous Jews whose ashes were buried in Terezin but that the visit to the former ghetto was also a moment to remember his friends and the joy of finally being free.

He recalled that he and his friend Moshe Nurtmann had gone immediately to search for food in the nearby town of Litomerice. In an abandoned bank the two teenagers had found a pile of German bank notes and thought they had hit the jackpot.

Unfortunately they soon discovered the currency was worthless. Freiman joked with Nurtmann’s daughter-in-law who was standing next to him that they “were the worst bank robbers in history.” They used the money as toilet paper, he laughed.

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