David Herszkowicz

David Herszkowicz

Our uncle, David Herszkowicz, was born on 9th of March 1928 in Jendrzejow, Poland. The whole family was together on Rosh Hashana, when news came that the Gestapo had arrived and was beginning to arrest families. David’s mother told him to run to a nearby forest to get help, which he did without questioning. He was picked up by the Germans and led back to his home which was empty. He later learned his family had been taken to Treblinka and gassed. David was ordered to clean up his home town, bury the dead, then clean up the sewers, all with his bare hands. After several camps, including Buchenwald, he was liberated from Theresienstadt, Czechoslovakia, and was brought to the U.K. with over 400 survivors, ‘The Boys’.

After rehabilitation, he went to a hostel in Golders Green where our grandmother, Chana Kamiel, was matron. She had come to London to be reunited with her son, our late father, Joe Kamiel, who had been on the Polish Kindertransport and was living in the hostel with The Boys. David met and married our lovely aunt Zena Nyman, and it was through David that our parents met: Zena’s sister Helen married Joe.

David was a man of many talents, some of which are depicted in his quilt square. He was a tailor, a shorthand clerk for the courts, and a taxi driver. It was always a treat to ride in his cab! David was incredibly adept at DIY: he built a kitchen and a bathroom, including cupboards, tiles, the works. We would love to make things in his garage workshop, even just hammering a nail into a piece of wood! David was a talented tailor and lovingly made a set of curtains for his nephew’s bedroom. When he and Zena retired to Netanya, Israel, he liked to keep busy and help people. He LOVED Israel and making aliyah was a dream come true. While in England he was a staunch defender of Israel and diligently learned excellent Hebrew. He adored the sunshine and would worship the sun’s rays whenever possible (hence the sun on the quilt), sunbathing on his deckchair at the seaside. Most importantly, he was married to Zena for 53 years: they were inseparable and truly devoted to each other.

David passed away on 21 August 2014 and will always be in our hearts.

Jonathan, Deborah and Ian Kamiel

Jerzy Herzberg

Jerzy was born in Poznań, Poland. He was incarcerated in the Lodz ghetto and then sent to Auschwitz. He came from a large family. His great uncle employed 15,000 people in the textile industry in Lodz. Three of his paternal uncles survived the war. One was living in Germany and had married a German but he fled at the outbreak of the war and eventually remarried in Israel and had children there. Another paternal uncle survived the war in France, as did an uncle on his mother’s side who was a doctor. A further uncle was a Communist and went to Moscow. He also had an aunt who was married to a German. Although she and her daughter survived the war, her German husband was killed fighting. Yet another aunt survived in Poland with false papers. Jerzy had one sister who died in the Lodz ghetto.

After Liberation, he arrived in Windermere, in the English Lake District, in 1945. He went on several summer holidays to a home run by a remarkable lady called Alice Goldberger. In 1946 Jerzy moved into a hostel in Loughton with Ben Helfgott and Harry Spiro, moving to Belsize Park in 1947.Jerzy was a brilliant mathematician: when he achieved his degree from King’s College London he was given the prize for gaining the highest first of all the graduates. He attained his MSc within three months. His PhD studies were interrupted by a sudden brain haemorrhage, from which thankfully he recovered, and by 1955 he had gained his doctorate. He became a Reader of Mathematics at Birkbeck University. However, he was not an ambitious man. He did not marry or have any family. He took early retirement, after which his participation in activities of the ‘45s declined and he passed away in February 2013.

In 2008, a Daily Mail journalist wrote an article about a manuscript he had come across of Jerzy’s wartime experiences. “He concluded his awful story with an account of his liberation in 1945, and adjustment thereafter. ‘I believed,’ he wrote, ‘that we were fortunate that there were no psychologists or social workers with us, to help sort out our problems.’ Restored to freedom, he was merely invited to get on with a new life – and so, somehow, he did.”

Frances Kahan

Solly Irving


Our father, Solly Irving lost his parents Yisroel Yitzchak and Chana Necha and four sisters Rivka, Leah, Hindel and Hendel and was the sole survivor of his large family. We have remembered those murdered, and shown by the tree of life that this family, and indeed the Jewish people will live on. The leaves show how although they tried, the tree was not killed off and continues to grow; from my father, his two children and son-in-law, four grandsons, two grand-daughters-in-law and now the blossoms continue with two beautiful great-grandsons. We also wished to portray our families continued love & commitment to Judaism via the use of our Hebrew names. Born in Ryki, Poland, on 11 August 1930, Dad is now 84 and over the past 20 years has devoted much of his time speaking about his experiences to school children, university students and adults throughout the UK. He has particularly adopted Plymouth (and they have adopted him) and it is estimated that he has spoken to over 20,000 pupils there over the years, telling his story and preaching the importance of tolerance in the community. This is at a time when his health has not been the best but it drives him and gives him purpose. This is an important lesson for young non Jewish children in a non Jewish area, who are able to listen to an elderly religious Jewish man talking about his story and the importance of tolerance at such a challenging time for the world.

He came back from one trip to Plymouth at the end of January 2015 and said that the highlight was a young man seeking him out who had heard him speak some years earlier and, on the back of his message, had decided to become a teacher and influence youngsters in a positive way.

Hazel Irving

Minia Jay

Minia Jay

My mother Minia Jay was born on 1.5.1925 in Warta, Poland. In 1940 she was taken to the Warta ghetto and made to carry out slave labour helping to make Nazi uniforms. In 1942 she was taken to the Lodz ghetto. In 1944 she was taken to Auschwitz Birkenau then to Oederan Chemnitz in East Germany and finally Theresienstadt where she was extremely ill with TB in Hospital. She was liberated at Terezin 8 May 1945.

She was brought to England in August 1945 and stayed in Windermere before going to a sanatorium in Ashford Kent. She went to London after meeting Sam Heinrich from her home town of Warta who had come searching for a survivor of her family. He and his wife taught her corsetry and she was able to earn some money making and altering ladies undergarments. She met her husband to be, Kurt Wassing, married and brought up her two children Denise and Michael. She later married Peter Jay. Her sister Hela was her sole surviving sibling and close family member.

The square represents Minia’s actual house in Warta, her close immediate family: sister, husbands and children as well as some of her interests: fashion, bridge, lucky number 13 played occasionally and successfully at the casino and favourite colour amethyst.

Denise Kienwald

Joseph Himmelstein

Joe Stone (Joseph Himmelstein) was born on 1st January 1931 in Poland. After going through several camps, Joe came to England and then to the US. Joe was a wonderful person, always willing to help whenever he was able. He was a real Mensch.

Joseph Himmelstein

Jack Kagan


Jack was born on 7 April 1929 and grew up in the town of Novogrudok, Belarus. The son of a leatherworker, Jack and his immediate family were taken to a work camp. In the terrible winter of 1942, Jack made an attempt to escape with a small group of young prisoners. Whilst crossing a brook he fell through the ice and soaked his boots. Realizing that he would die of frostbite, he was forced to return to the camp. A fellow prisoner, a dentist by profession, cut Jack’s toes off without equipment, thereby saving his life. A few months later, his mother, sister, aunt and uncle were taken out of the camp and killed. His father was transferred to another camp and never seen again. In May 1943, an escape by tunnel was planned. During the night of 26 September the entire camp of 250 Jews escaped through a narrow 200 yard long tunnel. 70 were killed but Jack made it through and eventually joined the Jewish Bielski partisans marching, as he says, not on his broken and bleeding feet but on the strength of his spirit.After the war, in 1946, Jack got a visa invitation to enter England. In London, without money, language, family or connections (but with The Boys as friends and support) Jack worked hard at his trade – leather cutting. Very soon though, he switched materials from skins to plastic and opened his own factory. He built a successful business. In 1955, he married Barbara Steinfeld and together they built a Jewish home with their three children.

In the 1990’s Jack returned to Novogrudok. He established monuments to the Jews of the town, many of whom were members of his family. He also established the museum to commemorate the heroism of Jewish partisans. He has participated in various educational programs and published three books about his life. Recently a film was made Tunnel of Hope about the search for the remains of the tunnel by, amongst others, his children and grandchildren.

In 2013 Jack was appointed by the Prime Minister of Britain to become a member of the Holocaust Commission that would decide the future of Holocaust education in the UK. He was also awarded the Medal of Heroism by the Belarusian government. The photos in his square are of him as a young man taken in 1946 in DPC; with his wife Barbara in 2015 and a photo of him in the Belarusian red sash of honour which was taken in 2014.

Michael Kagan

David Hirschfeld

tbmq-055I was born in 20th August 1929 in Bruśnik, Poland and grew up in Gorlice.
In February 1941 I was taken together with my older brother Moniek from the Bobowa ghetto to Plaszow Concentration Camp. We were then sent to Skarzysko-Kamienna Concentration Camp in November 1943. In July 1944 we were transferred to Czestochowa and in January 1945 to Buchenwald. In February 1945 we were sent to Nordhausen and from there went every day to Dora to work making B1 and B2 rockets which were dropped on England. In April 1945 we walked the death march together to Theresienstadt where we were liberated by the Russians on 8th May 1945. Shortly after we were both flown to Windermere in England.
In 1948 I went to Israel to fight in the War of Independence. I married my first wife Pnina with whom I had 2 boys. Sadly she died of cancer 30 years ago at the age of 54. I met my current wife Shoshana, also a Sabra, in 1990 and we were married in 2000. We have 5 grand-children and 3 great grand-children. We live in Givatayim which is a neighbourhood of Tel Aviv. I worked for Egged in the mechanical equipment building department until I retired. I now work as a volunteer for disabled people, making devices to help them.
My square shows my journey, my love of tennis (and ping pong!) and of making toys out of wood, metal and aluminium.

David Hirschfeld

Moniek Hirschfeld

tbmq-056Moniek was born on 28th March 1927 in Bruśnik, Poland and grew up in Gorlice.
In Feb 1941 he was taken together with his brother, David, from Bobowa ghetto to Plaszow Concentration Camp. He was sent to Skarzysko-Kamienna in November 1943 and in July 1944 transferred to Czestochowa. In January 1945 he was sent to Buchenwald and in February 1945 to Nordhausen and from there went every day to Dora to work making B1 and B2 rockets which were dropped on England. In April 1945 he and his brother walked the death march together to Theresienstadt where they were liberated by the Russians on 8th May 1945. Shortly after they were both flown to Windermere in England.
Moniek was a sailor and then worked as a “Konditor”, a pastry chef. His main hobby was his collection of crystal items like vases.

He never married and passed away in September 2013 in Brighton, leaving no relatives.

David Hirschfeld

Emeric Hitter

tbmq-104I was born in 1927 on March 13th in a place called Oradea. At that time it was Rumania. In 1938 the Hungarians occupied our town and it was called Nagyvarad. In June 1944 the Hungarians deported all the Jewish people to Auschwitz where I lost my parents, 2 sisters and 1 brother.

From Auschwitz I was taken to a labour camp and worked on pipe lines being laid. As the Russians were nearing to our camp, the Germans took us on the famous death march where thousands of people were slaughtered. Finally we arrived at a concentration camp called Flossenbürg from there we were again taken on a death march until the American army arrived and liberated us in a place called Neunburg in Bavaria.From there I came to England and landed in Southampton and we stayed in Wintershill Hall. After that I came to London in Golders Green Hostel together with Kurt Klappholtz and 30 other boys.

In 1955 I got married to Fay Hirshman from Belgium. In 1958 we moved to Antwerp and I entered the diamond trade. After learning the trade I became an expert in the rough diamond business. I retired at the age of 65.

Emeric Hitter

Martin Hoffman

tbmq-011Martin Joseph Hoffman was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia on 15th November, 1929. His Father’s name was Herman and Mother’s, Toby. He had a younger brother and two sisters.
Martin went with his brother, when he was nearly nine years old, to the Carpathians to stay with his maternal grandparents. He spent many years there studying the bible and then went to Budapest. Whilst there he contracted typhoid fever in 1942. An American Jewish Charity paid for his hospitalization.

For several years he was in hiding with his brother, but in 1944 he was transported to Auschwitz with his brother and grandparents. He was told by a Sonderkommando to pretend he was 18 although he was not yet 14 years old. He then went to Bunomonowitz, Gross Rosen, Birkenau and then on the death march to Buchenwald. He was liberated by the American Army in 1945. The American Army adopted him as a mascot sergeant.From there he came to England on The Boys transport to Lake Windermere for rehabilitation. He was sent to a hostel in London near Manor House. During a holiday in Torquay he met a family who were diamond manufacturers who offered him a job as a trainee diamond cutter and polisher. This lasted for approx. 5 years.

Whilst living in West Finchley he began playing bridge. He loved the game so much that he became a bridge professional and has remained a professional bridge player to this day. Martin has always been known for his joke telling hence the joker representing cards.

Audrey ‘Cookie’ Hoffman