Sur­vivor’s hor­rific tale will be used to ‘rub­bish de­niers’

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY RACHEL FLETCHER

THE STORY of a Birke­nau sur­vivor who also lived through the 1945 sink­ing of the Cap Ar­cona ship is be­ing metic­u­lously re­searched in or­der to re­fute the claims of Holo­caust-de­niers.

Pol­ish-born Sam Pivnik, 81, spent four months in Birke­nau be­fore be­ing sent to a coal-min­ing camp in Poland. He was one of just 350 sur­vivors of the Cap Ar­cona ship, which sank in 1945 af­ter be­ing mis­tak­enly fired upon by the RAF. Thou­sands of con­cen­tra­tion-camp pris­on­ers who were aboard died.

Both his par­ents and all but one of his six sib­lings were killed in the Holo­caust.

MrPivnik’ssto­ry­has­been­re­searched by writer and for­mer army of­fi­cer Adrian Weale, and is sup­ported by lit­er­ary agent Andrew Lownie and Aish.

Mr Weale, who has spent the last five years work­ing on books about the SS and Holo­caust sur­vivors, said: “In the process of do­ing back­ground re­search, I read a lot of Holo­caust mem­oirs. Many are quite con­trived and of­ten not true. We are try­ing to set down an unim­peach­able record that can’t be rub­bished by de­niers.

“Peo­ple like David Irv­ing will pick apart in­ac­cu­rate books to say it never hap­pened. It is dam­ag­ing to his­tory and sows con­fu­sion in the minds of the younger gen­er­a­tion.

“I have been go­ing back to the orig­i­nal sources to con­firm parts of the story, for ex­am­ple for the names of some of the SS per­son­nel in­volved. I have been to the Na­tional Archives in Wash­ing­ton and the Holo­caust Me­mo­rial Mu­seum in Wash­ing­ton.”

Mr Weale’s re­search even un­cov­ered a pho­to­graph of Mr Pivnik’s grand­mother, taken as part of an ini­tial Nazi plan to evac­u­ate Jews to Mada­gas­car.

Re­search as­sis­tant Philip Ap­pleby said: “There are three or four Holo­caust mem­oirs where you can say peo­ple sur­vived by a sheer mir­a­cle. Sam is one.”

Mr Weale ex­pects to fin­ish writ­ing the book in around three months. A pub­lisher is still be­ing sought.

Mr Pivnik, now a re­tired tai­lor and art dealer liv­ing in Lon­don, told the JC: “I cleaned the trains at Birke­nau — I was there at the be­gin­ning. I had ty­phus.

“ At one time, I kissed Dr [Josef] Men­gele’s boots, plead­ing not to be sent to the gas cham­bers. I have seen hang­ings; as a teenager, I had to pull the stools out from un­der peo­ple.

“I don’t know how I avoided be­ing shot on the Cap Ar­cona. I jumped into the sea and held on to a lump of wood. The wind blew me to the coast. There was plenty of shoot­ing.”

He later fought in Is­rael’s War of In­de­pen­dence as a Machal­nik (vol­un­teer from abroad). He will at­tend the fi­nal Machal re­union in Is­rael next month.

“We did go back to Poland, but I couldn’t take it. It was very trau­matic, like see­ing noth­ing but black in front of me.”

The Friends of Sam Fund has been es­tab­lished to fund re­search and pub­lic­ity for the project.

Rabbi Naf­tali Schiff, Aish ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, said: “At a time when the Hol- ocaust is un­der fire from re­vi­sion­ists, we value sur­vivors so much be­cause their courage to tell their sto­ries turns a his­tory les­son into a tan­gi­ble, mov­ing and per­sonal re­al­ity.”

Sam Pivnik, with some of the re­search for his mem­oir

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