Holocaust survivor tells of horrific experiences at performance in Welwyn Garden City

PUBLISHED: 13:50 18 October 2013 | UPDATED: 09:58 29 October 2013

And Then They Came For Me cast members Lucy Formby, Irina Karatcheva, Holocaust suvivor Rene Salt, Director of the play Nic Careem, MP Grant Shapps, Nathan Medina, Sabrina Hansen and Daniel Wildman

And Then They Came For Me cast members Lucy Formby, Irina Karatcheva, Holocaust suvivor Rene Salt, Director of the play Nic Careem, MP Grant Shapps, Nathan Medina, Sabrina Hansen and Daniel Wildman

Archant

An 84-year-old Holocaust survivor held a packed Welwyn Garden City community centre in rapt attention as she recounted her horrific experiences last night (Thursday).

"If you hate, you end up hating yourself.
It is important to tell people what happened, so there will not be another Holocaust."

Rene Salt

Rene Salt, born Rywka Berkowitz into a prosperous Polish Jewish family in 1929, visited the Woodhall Community Centre to tell her extraordinary story of tragedy and survival.

She described mountains of piled dead bodies at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in the closing weeks of the Second World War, and standing by her mother’s side as her sister was seized by SS thugs to be taken to the gas chambers.

And she recounted that as clouds of pungent black smoke swept across Auschwitz, prisoners preserved their sanity by deluding each other the Nazis were burning rubbish.

More than 200 tickets were sold for the event, with nearly £700 raised for the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET).

Speaking to the WHT ahead of the show, And Then They Came For Me, Mrs Salt said: “I don’t hate the Germans.

“I don’t want anything to do with them, and they are not my friends, but if you hate, you end up hating yourself.

“It is important to tell people what happened, so there will not be another Holocaust.”

The event incorporated Mrs Salt’s story and two performances of a play inspired by teenage diarist Anne Frank, was organised by the HET and Welwyn Hatfield Conservative Party.

An afternoon show was put on for schoolchildren, followed by a public performance in the evening.

Welwyn Hatfield’s MP Grant Shapps, who is Jewish, told the WHT: “It is tremendous to see this play performed in Woodhall to school children and the general public as a reminder of what happened in the past.

“Not many people will know that Welwyn Hatfield has a strong connection with the Holocaust.

“A plaque in Parkway commemorates how a group of people rescued children from going to the camps.”

Mrs Salt described how she last saw her father, a senior accountant with a textile firm before the war, as they were ordered to leave a packed cattle truck at Auschwitz.

At least 1.1 million people were murdered at the Nazi concentration camp, 90 per cent of them Jewish.

Mrs Salt described losing contact with her mother as they were taken to Bergen-Belsen, and finding her as she lay dying in the German camp, a few days before it was liberated by the British Army.

Mrs Salt, who later married a British soldier who liberated the concentration camp, has five grandchildren, and lives in north London.


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