Being twinned with Elza and sharing my special day means a great deal to me, I will now become her Guardian of her Memory and light a candle for her on Yom Hashoah and Holocaust Memorial Day
Since my Grandpa has been involved with the Yad Vashem twinning programme, I have been eagerly awaiting my turn to be twinned. I specifically wanted to be twinned with a child who came from Berlin Germany. Why Berlin you may ask? Well, my Great Grandfather, Nannan Queenie’s husband, came from Berlin. His name was Heinz Max Karfunkelstein. Like all Jews under Nazi occupation he was forced to wear the yellow star. He was 19 when he escaped Germany in 1939. During the persecution of the Jewish people, he had witnessed many horrific scenes including the night of the broken glass, women and young girls being tarred and feathered to name but a few, scene’s no one, let alone children should witness. On his arrival to the UK he changed his name to Henry Carson, but for some reason he was always called Bob!!! He joined the British Army and requested to be sent back to Germany to fight the war there. His request was denied and he was sent to Burma where he joined the SAS and became a paratrooper. Sadly, he died in 1975 of Cancer.
I have the honour of being twinned with a 10 year old girl called Elza Neumann. She was born on the 16th June 1933. Elza’s father was called Moses and her mother was called Lucia. Elza also had a brother called Chaim, they lived in Berlin.
Moses was born in Tar-low Poland in 1887, he moved to Berlin sometime later. Before the war Moses was a Tailor, [Grandpa Bob] was also a tailor. Moses at some point early in the war was taken to Sachenhausen concentration camp. It is possible he was a political activist as this camp held many outspoken and political prisoners. He was murdered on the 11th of February 1941 at Sachenhausen.
Elza’s mother Lucia was born in 1893 in Berlin where she later met her husband. On the 3rd of March 1943 Elza and her mother were forced out of their home and boarded transport 33 together with over 1,700 others. They later arrived at Auschwitz concentration camp where they were probably murdered together on arrival.
Elza’s brother, Chaim survived the war and in 1999 gave testimony to Yad Vashem as to what happened to his parents and sister. At some point after the war Chaim moved to Israel and took up residence in Netanya. After extensive research by family and friends we were unable to locate Chaim or any of his family.
I have tried to compare my time in lockdown, not being able to see my family and hugging my loved ones, to what Elza had to endure, under a forced lockdown, in fear of her life, having to watch her father being dragged away never to be seen again. Of course, there’s a massive difference between the two experiences but this past year has given me time to reflect on how fortunate we really are.
Being twinned with Elza and sharing my special day means a great deal to me. I will now become the Guardian of her Memory and light a candle for her on Yom Hashoah and Holocaust Memorial Day. I shall also at this time remember my Great Grandpa who sadly I never met.
Over 10 years ago Yad Vashem started the twinning programme. Since then over 800 children have been twinned, which seems a lot!! Until we remember 1 and a half million children were murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust, as Grandpa said to me ‘there’s a long way to go before every child is remembered in this way’. My family are taking me to Israel later this year, if we are allowed, where I will visit Yad Vashem for the first time.
The pin I wear today is the Yad Vashem pin. It is a barbed wire stem with leaves stemming from the top. The wire represents the pain and suffering, while the leaves symbolise the rebirth and hope that emerged in the wake of this unparalleled tragedy. I will wear this pin with pride and honour.