Whether I like it or not, the Holocaust and Auschwitz are integral parts of my family’s history and DNA. Knowing about my background as a young child was not something that I was particularly interested in, but as I have got older the need and desire to learn, understand and explore that period in my family’s history has got stronger and stronger. The culmination of that need was my three day trip to Auschwitz.

My dad, who passed away in April 2020, was born in 1928 in Vienna where he lived and grew up as a young boy. His grandparents (my great grandparents) probably ended up being exterminated at Auschwitz, although we have no conclusive proof of this – just what I suppose your would call ‘circumstantial evidence’.

Dad came to the UK as part of the Kindertransport initiative. He found himself in a foreign country at a boarding school in Hampshire, aged about ten and unable to speak any English – his parents left behind initially. Hard to imagine. And whether he considered himself lucky at that time or not, I suspect he was indeed one of the luckier ones.

My grandparents followed over and settled in Manchester. They had left what would best be described as comfortable middle class surroundings in Vienna as the Nazi onslaught effectively destroyed their lives.  I recall Dad telling me about the occasion when the SS simply banged down the family’s door and took away his father. It transpired he was held in Dachau (another infamous death camp) and it was only due to the fortitude and mental strength of my grandmother, that she managed to get him released.

Dad was reluctant, (like so many others of his age who endured these terrible times and atrocities), to talk openly about what he experienced until more recently. I am glad he has been able to let go and share some of his darkest secrets because it has helped me to understand much better the pain of what he faced and the stark reality of what happened.

After the death of my grandfather, my grandmother relocated to north west London to be closer to her immediate family and other relations, who lived in the area. I remember as a family visiting her most Sundays for afternoon tea and this is undoubtedly where I developed my life long love of continental sausage, sauerkraut and pumpernickel bread!

This is a very simplistic overview of my family history and for personal reasons, I prefer not to share more details than I already have.