Survivor who continued to defy the Nazis
MIRJAM FINKELSTEIN, Holocaust educator and survivor of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, has died at the age of 83.
She was born Mirjam Weiner in Germany in 1933, but her family moved to Amsterdam later that year in an attempt to escape the Nazi regime.
Mirjam, together with her two sisters and their mother, was caught in Amsterdam when the Germans invaded in 1940.
Her father, Alfred, who was by then in London, had attempted to arrange visas for them, but it was too late. They were taken to Westerbork concentration camp and later transferred to Belsen.
In January 1945, the Weiner sm an aged to leave the camp as part of a rare prisoner exchange, thanks to a false Paraguayan passport which their father had obtained for them. Just a few hours after they crossed the border into Switzerland, their mother died.
After the war, the three sisters were transported to New York on a Red Cross ship. They were later reunited with their father and moved to live with him in Britain.
Professor Weiner’s archive on the Nazis formed the basis for the Weiner Library in London. His work documenting German atrocities was instrumental in helping convict Nazis at Nuremberg.
For many years Mrs F ink el stein visited schools to talk to children about her experiences during the Shoah.
Last year she was photographed for a new book, Survivor, where each person pictured also wrote a short message concerning themselves and their experiences.
Mrs Finkelstein’s message read: “I think of myself as a person, a wife and mother first and a survivor last.”
Mrs Finkelstein and her sister, Ruth, witnessed Anne and Mar got Frank arriving at Belsen in the autumn of 1944. Ruth recorded the moment in a pocket diary she kept hidden from the Nazis.
Their families had been friends before the war and Ruth had studied Hebrew alongside Margot.
Mrs Finkelstein’s husband was the late Professor Ludwig Finkelstein, who survived a Siberian gulag to become an eminent professor of engineering.
Mrs Finkelstein is survived by three children, Anthony, Daniel and Tamara.
Mirjam Finkelstein in a portrait for the book, Survivor by Harry Borden