Pope praised for visit to Holocaust survivor

'We were both emotional' said Edith Bruck who welcomed Pope Francis to her home in Rome


The Pope paid a visit to an 88-year-old survivor in Rome on Saturday after being moved by an interview she gave last month to the Vatican newspaper for Holocaust Memorial Day. 

Edith Bruck, a Hungarian-born writer who moved to Italy after the War, endured  Auschwitz, Dachau, Christianstadt and Bergen-Belsen. 

"I have come here to thank you for your testimony and to pay homage to the people martyred by the insanity of Nazi populism," Pope Francis told her. 

 "And with sincerity I repeat to you the words that I spoke from my heart at Yad Vashem and that I repeat before every person who, like you, has suffered so much because of this: [I ask] forgiveness, O Lord, in the name of humanity." 

Ms Bruck burst into tears when the Pope arrived, The Times reported. “He hugged me,” she said. “We were both emotional.” 

She lost her parents and a brother in the camps but a sister also survived. 

According to the Holy See, even when she recalled the darkest moments, she never failed to “fix her gaze on something good and beautiful, some hint of humanity that allowed her to go on living and hoping”. 

When she was digging trenches in Dachau, a German soldier had tossed his mess pot for her to be washed. “He had left some jam at the bottom for me,” she said in the interview with the L'Osservatore Romano. 

Her conversation with the Pope “revisited those moments of light with which the experience of the hell of the camps was punctuated and evoked the fears and hopes for the time in which we live, emphasising the value of memory and the role of the elderly in cultivating it and passing it on to the young,” the Vatican said. 

Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, commented,  “At a time when neo-Nazism, antisemitism, and other bigotries are resurgent in many parts of the world, Pope Francis' moral integrity and sense of history set the standard for other faith, political and community leaders."

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