As Holocaust Memorial Day approaches tomorrow (Saturday 27th January), I have found one of the most moving stories I have seen in years.
Jewish Mother, Noemie Lopian, from Manchester has been working hard to make this is a Memorial Day to remember. She is the daughter of Holocaust survivor, Ernst Israel Bornstein and has re-launched his memoirs and created a website for Holocaust education in his memory.
Ernst Bornstein was born in the small Polish town of Zawiercie and at the age of 17, he was conscripted into forced labour and survived seven concentration camps between 1941 to 1945. Of his extended family of 72 people, only six survived and after the war he moved to Munich where he practiced as a dentist and then re-trained to become a Doctor.
Bornstein could not believe his ears when he discovered that a lot of his German patients knew very little about the Holocaust or believed it had been exaggerated as allied propaganda. He took the responsibility to write his memoirs called Die Lange Nacht or translated as “The Long Night.” Published in 1967, publishers were hesitant and scared to unlock Germany’s dark past so soon, but the book was well received.
Borstein married Renee, a French Jew and they had three children Noemie, Muriel and Alain and they moved to Manchester where they had a lovely Jewish life. Bornstein was always described as a loving, brilliant and charming man.
Bornstein sadly passed away in 1978, aged 55 , suffering from from a heart condition which may have been caused by years of malnourishment. But whilst his memoirs gathered dust on the shelf, his daughter Noemie wanted to understand what her father had been through – something he had always kept very private.
Finishing her job as a practicing GP, Noemie decided to have the book translated into english and re-written by Holocaust educator David Arnold MBE. The process has taken 5 years to launch the book “The Long Night” and it has received incredible endorsement from Lord Sacks, Lord Finkelstein, historian Dan Stone and the pre-word is written by Rt Hon David Cameron.
Comments on the book
After reading the book, the language is so beautifully written. Some of the descriptions and use of the english language is extraordinary.
Beyond the language, the messages are very strong. Especially answering questions like “Why couldn’t Jews leave Poland sooner?” and “Did Jews really know what was going on?”
Some of the answers were fascinating. For instance, in 1939 as war was breaking out, a young teenage boy like Ernst could have left town, maybe leaving in the middle of the night and keeping a low profile to another country – but who could leave their family, not knowing their fate?
Did Jews know what was going on? It seemed impossible. After all, was it not enough to rob us of our businesses, force us into labour, but exterminate us too?
My huge respect goes to people like Ernst Bornstein and his wonderful daughter Noemie. All it takes is trying to buy challah on a Friday morning in Temple Fortune to see that people get stressed easily, are pushy, unkind to each other and make a big deal out of small things. For Ernst to have been through so much during quality teenage years is heartbreaking, but his attitude at following an illustrious career, a Jewish life and bringing up a loving family without burdening them is beyond praiseworthy. Kol Hakavod.