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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 January 2008, 07:46 GMT
Survivor teaches Holocaust lesson
By Julian Fowler
BBC Newsline

Eva Clarke
Eva Clarke hopes the lessons of the Holocaust will be remembered
Holocaust Memorial Day is commemorated on Sunday 27 January - the day the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated.

One of the youngest survivors of the Holocaust, Eva Clarke, has been talking to groups in the hope that the lessons of the past will not be forgotten.

"I am here today because I am a survivor of the Holocaust. I am a survivor, but only just."

This is how Eva Clarke begins her story to a group of school children at Fermanagh County Museum.

She was born in a concentration camp at Mauthausen, Austria on 29 April, 1945.

Talking for more than an hour, she shows family photographs including her parents' wedding day and pictures of uncles, aunts and cousins smiling for the camera.

Many of them, including her father, were killed in Nazi concentration camps.

Her mother Anka Bergmann hid her pregnancy from the guards at Auschwitz-Birkenau and later when she was transported to a labour camp.

Becoming pregnant in a concentration camp was seen by the Nazis as a crime punishable by death.

Birth certificate
Eve's birth certificate lists the concentration camp

Anka described herself as a "scarcely living pregnant skeleton" when she gave birth - weighing just five stone.

Her baby weighed three pounds and was wrapped in newspapers.

Three days later the camp was liberated by American troops.

As she recalls how her mother returned to Prague to be reunited with her cousin, her voice begins to tremble.

"I tend to get upset about the happy things", she says.

Her mother remarried and they came to Britain in 1948 as refugees and asylum seekers.

It's a reminder to her audience that this is not just a history lesson, but a story that is relevant to issues that preoccupy us today.

The pupils listen to every word - one says afterwards that as she spoke the hairs on the back of his neck stood up.

She has been telling her story to groups for eight years. She says she feels it's her duty and she is happy to do it.

"To remember all those millions and millions who died, who were killed in the Holocaust, who have never had one single person remember them because all their families were killed, all their communities were destroyed," she said.

"The second reason is just to tell one survivor's story because as many as there are survivors, there are that many different stories and they're all unique.

"The third reason is to try to enable us all to learn the lessons of the Holocaust which tragically as a human race we're not doing brilliantly when you think about all the genocides that have happened since the war.

Anka left and Bernd Nathan on their wedding day
Anka survived the war but her husband did not

"To name but a few, Cambodia, Bosnia and today, now, this minute, what's happening in Darfur in the Sudan.

"And the last reason is to try to counteract any form of racism, because what happened to my family happened to them only because they were Jewish, for no other reason whatsoever.

"And racism starts in a very, very small way but the logical conclusion to racism is genocide."

She says it takes a lot out of her: "I find it very emotionally and physically draining.

"Emotionally draining because I am talking about my family, most of whom I never met, but nevertheless I feel I know them well and so, yes, I do find it very tiring."

Given the subject matter it is surprising that Eva says her's is a story with a happy ending.

Last year her mother celebrated her 90th birthday.

"There's definitely a happy ending for my mother and myself, you know," she says. "We're here."

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