Sur­vivor who con­tin­ued to defy the Nazis

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BYJCREPORTER

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

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