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Barkingside pupil shares moving tale of grandad’s life in Nazi camps

PUBLISHED: 14:42 01 February 2017 | UPDATED: 13:52 02 February 2017

Hillel Chill Igielman as a young boy, a few months after being liberated by American troops during the Second World War.

Hillel Chill Igielman as a young boy, a few months after being liberated by American troops during the Second World War.

Zachary Igielman

A 16-year-old pupil stood in front of hundreds of community members to tell the moving story of his grandfather’s life during the Second World War.

Zachary Igielman speaking at the Holocaust Memorial Day event at Valentines Park. Photo: Ann-Marie AbbasahZachary Igielman speaking at the Holocaust Memorial Day event at Valentines Park. Photo: Ann-Marie Abbasah

Zachary Igielman, who attends Kantor King Solomon High School, Forest Road Barkingside, was speaking at the Holocaust Memorial Day event in Valentines Park, on Friday.

Hillel Chill Igielman, called grandpa Charlie by Zachary, was born in a small Polish town called Biablobrzegi in 1928.

Zachary said: “In 1940 the Germans entered the village and made Chill and his father, along with the other Jews, work for them.

“The family had little money and little food.”

Soon after, Mr Igielman, was sent to an ammunitions factory in Radom in east-central Poland.

Mr Igielman and other Jews were assembled and degraded by a German officer and told how lazy they were.

To instill fear into the group, one man was shot by a firing squard as a lesson of how laziness would be dealt with.

The grandfather also learnt that all the people from his village had been taken away, although know one knew at the time, history knows their fate.

In his memoir, A Record of The Early Life of Hillel Chill Igielman, he wrote: ”I cried solidly for a week at the loss of my family and have never shed a tear since.”

Zachary continued: “After the war, he found out that his parents, my great grandparents, Fischel and Brucha, and his siblings, Nicha, Sima and Pinchas, had been taken to the extermination camp Treblinka and were murdered in the gas chambers there.”

At the camp, Mr Igielman, then a young boy, found work difficult and exhausting.

Rations were insufficient and many people died of starvation.

In summer 1943 the Nazis forced the Jews to march for six days, with just a quarter of a loaf of bread to keep them going, from Radom to a train station.

While many of the victims were herded onto a train which stopped at Auschwitz, Mr Igielman was sent to a camp in Wehingen, Germany.

Mr Igielman wrote: “The whole camp was literally knee deep in mud, so as soon as you stepped out of the barrack block you sank.

“The SS used to ride around on horses chasing us. The barracks were wooden with bunks three high. Each bunk was like a shelf holding 25 people, 75 to a bunk and 150 to a barrack.

“The bunks were wooden with neither mattress, straw nor blankets.”

At the end of January 1945 camp survivors were transported to another camp, called Dachau, in southern Germany by train.

“The dead were removed from the carriage daily,” wrote Mr Igielman.

As the Allied troops approached, the remaining Jews were taken into a nearby forest to be shot by German officers.

Zachary added: “Those who were unable to walk, including grandpa, were left to die. There was no food no roll calls and no work.

“Many died just days from liberation but on May 8 1945 my grandpa was saved by American troops.

“As a third generation survivor, I take it as my responsibility to pass on this story as if it were my own, so that it can never happen again

“As Anne Frank said what is done cannot be undone, but one can prevent it happening again.”

Mr Igielman lived in Preswich, Manchester and died in March 2010. He is remembered fondly by Zachary.


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