TRIBUTES TO GENA TURGEL
THE FAMILY of Holocaust survivor Gena Turgel hopes to set up a foundation in her name to carry on her work to educate people about the Shoah.
Mrs Turgel died aged 95 last Friday and her grandson, chazan Jonny Turgel, told the JC: “She lit a candle and we’ll keep it burning.
“We will together take it upon ourselves to ensure her legacy lives on and that her story is never forgotten.”
Mrs Turgel survived Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Bergen-Belsen. During her life in Britain after the war she spoke publicly about her experiences countless times, continuing her efforts in the weeks leading up to her death.
Mr Turgel said the family was “completely overwhelmed by the scale of the response” to his grandmother’s death.
He added: “We knew she impacted the entire community and beyond with her story, and the way she presented herself with her inimitable elegance and poise.”
He said reading tributes to her had provided “a great degree of comfort.
“We can’t imagine a world without our nana. Friday night especially will always feel a sense of emptiness without being able to pop over the road on my way to shul to make kiddish for nana.”
Karen Pollock, Holocaust Educational Trust chief executive, said: “The Gena Turgel we knew was the most beautiful, elegant and poised lady.
“Her strength, determination and resilience were unwavering, her powerful and wise words an inspiration.”
In April, at one of her final major public appearances, Mrs Turgel spoke at a Holocaust memorial event in London and urged guests: “I beg you — don’t forget those who are less fortunate than yourselves.”
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis led the tributes, saying: “Her legacy is our responsibility now.”
Former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks said Mrs Turgel was “one of the most remarkable Holocaust survivors I had the privilege to know”.
He said: “She was a blessing and inspiration to our community. Her work to educate generations about the horrors of the Holocaust was as powerful as it was tireless.”
Mrs Turgel grew up in Poland and fled to the Krakow ghetto in 1941 with a sack of potatoes and a few belongings.
Liberated from Belsen by British soldier Norman Turgel, whom she married six months later, she lost most of her family in the Shoah and dedicated her life to educating new generations about the genocide.
Her grandson said she always offered a “listening ear and sound advice and a solution to every situation we discussed. Each of us in the family has countless memories that will keep her memory alive”.
The family has set up an email address for people to send tributes and memories of Mrs Turgel: firstname.lastname@example.org
Legacy: Gena Turgel