|Friends Of Holy Trinity Church, Meldreth
Registered Charity No. 289736
In a calm, soft voice, audible to everyone in the considerable audience, Eva Clarke explained that the talk she was about to give on behalf of the Holocaust Education Trust was one that she usually gives to secondary school pupils, to explain from her own point of view what the Holocaust was and what effect it had on her own family.
This was an intensely personal talk, starting with a group photograph of her father's family in the 1920s, showing about fifteen people of several generations. She was able to name them and said she would explain during the talk how they had fared during the war. She talked about how her grandfather was a decorated war hero from the First World War and how her parents had met in Prague after her father had moved out of Germany to Prague to avoid the rising influence of Hitler and his anti-Semitic policies.
She continued with how her family members were not hauled off in the night, but notified by post to report on a set date and time, with a single suitcase and warm clothes, to a warehouse near the railway. They were moved into a ghetto, where her mother had a small job, which enabled her to find food of barely starvation levels for fifteen people of her family. Several of the people in the family photograph did not survive the three years her mother and father spent in the ghetto.
By the end of the talk, we learned that none of the people in the family photograph survived the war. We heard of the courage and tenacity her mother had shown, especially when, weighing only about 5 stone, she gave birth to Eva in the back of a cart after the last journey to a death camp called Mauthausen. Eva had a birth weight of only about three pounds! They survived because the camp had run of of Zyklon gas just before they arrived, and it was liberated by the Americans a few days later.
Eva gave us all a very thought-provoking talk, and encouraged hope, whilst acknowledging world events show people still have a capacity to act inhumanely towards each other.
If you would like to read more of Eva's story, it can be found at https://www.het.org.uk/survivors-eva-clarke.