A Holocaust survivor who comforted Anne Frank at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp before the Dutch girl’s death just one month before the camp was liberated has died aged 95.
Polish native Gena Turgel dedicated her life to sharing the horrific experiences she endured during World War Two and ensure the atrocity would never be forgotten.
She also became known as the ‘Bride of Belsen’ after marrying Norman Turgel, one of the British soldiers who liberated Bergen-Belsen.
Her wedding dress, made from parachute silk, is part of the collection of the Imperial War Museum in London.
Holcaust survivor Gena Turgel, pictured, who comforted Anne Frank at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp before her death has died aged 95
Mrs Turgel spent years talking about her experiences in schools around Britain. She is pictured speaking to pupils at La Sainte Union Catholic School in Highgate, London
Mrs Turgel attended Britain’s annual Holocaust remembrance two months ago in a wheelchair with a blanket draped over her knees.
‘My story is the story of one survivor, but it is also the story of 6 million who perished,’ she said at the event in London’s Hyde Park.
‘Maybe that’s why I was spared – so my testimony would serve as a memorial like that candle that I light, for the men, women and children who have no voice.’
Born in Krakow, Poland as Gena Goldfinger on February 1, 1923, Mrs Turgel had to move with her family in 1941 to a Jewish ghetto with only a sack of potatoes, some flour and a few belongings.
Norman and Gena Turgel pictured together on their wedding day in Germany, on October 7, 1947
The Queen chats with Mrs Turgel duringa garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2015
One brother was shot by the Nazi SS police and another disappeared after trying to escape, according to the Holocaust Educational Trust in London.
A sister of hers was shot while trying to smuggle food into a labour camp. In January 1945, Mrs Turgel and her mother were forced onto a death march from Auschwitz, leaving her remaining sister behind.
It was in a hospital at Bergen-Belsen, where the 22-year-old Turgel arrived in February, that she cared for Anne Frank as the 15-year-old girl was dying from typhus.
‘I washed her face, gave her water to drink, and I can still see that face, her hair and how she looked,’ Mrs Turgel once told the BBC.
The Queen left, meets Holocaust survivor Gena Turgel during a service to remember victims in Westminster Central Hall in London on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz in 2005
She published a memoir, ‘I Light a Candle,’ in 1987 and kept retelling her story in schools across Britain until the end of her life.
‘Gena dedicated her life to sharing her testimony to hundreds of thousands in schools across the country.
‘Her story was difficult to hear – and difficult for her to tell, but no one who heard her speak will ever forget,’ Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he met Turgel at the Hyde Park event in April and was ‘inspired by her lifelong commitment to educating people about the horrors of the Holocaust.’
‘Let us hope for a better future where anti-Semitism and all hatred should be demolished, shouldn’t be tolerated,’ Turgel said at the time. ‘And I do beg you, don’t forget those who are less fortunate than yourselves. ‘
She is survived by her three children, as well as grandchildren and great grandchildren.
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