Mor­gan re­calls her ‘life-chang­ing’ visit

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMUNITY - BY JOSH JACK­MAN

EDUCATION SEC­RE­TARY Nicky Mor­gan has de­scribed her visit to Auschwitz-Birke­nau as “truly life-chang­ing” in shap­ing her think­ing about the Holo­caust.

Mrs Mor­gan — who made the trip in 2012 with stu­dents from her Lough­bor­ough con­stituency — was speak­ing be­fore the Holo­caust Ed­u­ca­tional Trust’s Lord Mer­lyn-Rees me­mo­rial lecture at the Houses of Par­lia­ment on Tues­day.

She went on to tell her au­di­ence of 200, in­clud­ing fel­low MPs and sur­vivors, that “there is a be­fore-the­visit life and an af­ter-the-visit life, where you look at the world in a dif­fer­ent way. Once you’ve vis­ited Auschwitz, it never leaves you.”

Al­though prais­ing the HET’s work, she warned there was “no room for com­pla­cency” in Shoah education for chil­dren, who were in the “front line” of the bat­tle against in­tol­er­ance.

“I can’t stress how im­por­tant i t is that

Nicky Mor­gan ev­ery gen­er­a­tion of young peo­ple not only un­der­stands what hap­pened at Auschwitz and other camps, but also un­der­stands the hor­ror of what hap­pened, so that the next gen­er­a­tion can be stead­fast in never let­ting it hap­pen again. The Holo­caust did not be­gin in the gas cham­bers. It be­gan with hate­ful, ig­no­rant, dan­ger­ous views.” Guests also heard from Eva Clarke, 70, who was born at the gates of Aus­trian con­cen­tra­tion camp Mau­thausen days be­fore it was lib­er­ated. Mrs Clarke said her mother, A n k a B e r g man, called Auschwitz — where she spent 10 days — “Dante’s In­ferno”.

Anka Bergman was ini­tially told that she had given birth to a boy. “I was named Martin, and she held me all through the night.

“I n the morn­ing, some­one said: ‘Would you like me to wash your baby?’ The per­son brought

Eva Clarke (

with Emma Bar­nett, Wendy Holden and Hertsmere MP Oliver Dow­den at the HET event me back and said: ‘Here’s your baby girl.’

“My mother was in hys­ter­ics won­der­ing what had hap­pened to me. But when she calmed down she was pleased, be­cause she had wanted a baby girl.”

Mrs Clarke — who speaks to school groups on be­half of the HET — added that her mother had grad­u­ally opened up to her about life dur­ing the Shoah.

“From a very young age, she started to tell me tiny snip­pets of her wartime ex­pe­ri­ences as she felt that I was able to cope with the de­tails.”

She was “six or seven” when her mother told her that her hus­band, Karel Bergman, was not Eva’s father. Her bi­o­log­i­cal dad, Bernd Nathan, was killed at Auschwitz.

“I must’ve been a rather pre­co­cious lit­tle brat,” Mrs Clarke said. “She heard me go down­stairs to play with some­one in the gar­den and say: ‘I’ve got two dad­dies and you’ve only got one.’ She said that was when she knew it wouldn’t hurt me.”

Mrs Clarke has col­lab­o­rated with au­thor Wendy Holden on a book, Born Sur­vivors, on those born in death camps. “At the end of our first meet­ing I asked if she’d do me the hon­our of let­ting me write her story,” Ms Holden re­called. “She reached out, touched my arm and said: ‘I’ve been wait­ing for you for 68 years.’”


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