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Holocaust survivor shares tale of resilience, recovery and renewal to Redbridge students on anniversary of liberation

PUBLISHED: 12:00 23 January 2020 | UPDATED: 13:45 23 January 2020

Hundreds of students from seven schools heard Hephzibah Rudofsky and her mother Lady Zahava Kohn's (seated) story of surviving the Westerbork and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps. Picture: Laura Marks

Hundreds of students from seven schools heard Hephzibah Rudofsky and her mother Lady Zahava Kohn's (seated) story of surviving the Westerbork and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps. Picture: Laura Marks

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The day after the 75th anniversary of being liberated from a concentration camp a holocaust survivor shared her story of courage and resilience with students.

The 84-year-old Zahava has lived in London since 1958 and she tours the UK and Germany with her daughter Hephzibah sharing their story. Picture: Laura MarksThe 84-year-old Zahava has lived in London since 1958 and she tours the UK and Germany with her daughter Hephzibah sharing their story. Picture: Laura Marks

Holocaust survivor Lady Zahava Kohn and her daughter Hephzibah Rudofsky spoke at Kantor King Solomon High School in Barkingside, along with students from six other Redbridge secondary schools on Wednesday, January 22.

Hundreds of students of all ethnicities and faiths heard about Zahava's experiences surviving the Westerbork and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps along with her parents.

The highlight of the event were questions from the students which Kantor King Solomon's Assistant Head Melanie Shutz said were staggering. Picture: Laura MarksThe highlight of the event were questions from the students which Kantor King Solomon's Assistant Head Melanie Shutz said were staggering. Picture: Laura Marks

Zahava and Hephzibah tour the UK and Germany to share their story so that students will never forget the horrors of the Holocaust and this year marks the 10th time they've spoken at Kantor King Solomon.

Zahava told the Recorder: "I feel lucky that I am able to share my story because there are so few of us Holocaust survivors left and so many people don't understand exactly what happened."

Students from Beal, Trinity, Valentines, Wanstead, Ilford County and Woodford County High Schools joined their peers at Kantor King Solomon for the event. Picture: Laura MarksStudents from Beal, Trinity, Valentines, Wanstead, Ilford County and Woodford County High Schools joined their peers at Kantor King Solomon for the event. Picture: Laura Marks

Zahava's brother, Jehudi was saved from being sent to a concentration camp because he could pass as a Dutch baby so his parents handed him over to resistance fighters at the end of 1942 and the family was only reunited following the war.

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The 84-year-old showed artefacts from her time in the concentration camp which her mother had taken and hid in a cupboard to help tell her story.

Students said even though Zahava's story was full of despair, the main message they took away from it was one of inspiration and perseverance.

The highlight of the event was questions from students which ranged from practical ones to profound questions that Zahava struggled to answer.

One student asked how women handled their periods since sanitation conditions were so poor and another asked if Zahava had a message to people who struggle with their faith on a daily basis.

A common question was how she managed to survive such harsh conditions and then somehow adjust back to normal life afterwards and not be bitter.

Zahava's father struggled after the war but her mother's strength and determination to move forward and not dwell on the past is what gave her the courage to survive.

Zahava said: "There were so many people who were depressed and angry but my mother showed me that instead of acting like victims we needed to move forward."

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