TRIB­UTES TO GENA TURGEL

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY ROSA DO­HERTY

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: re­mem­ber­inggena@gmail.com

PHOTO: PA

Legacy: Gena Turgel

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