Esther Brunstein

Esther Brunstein 2015

Esther Brunstein

  • Lifelong Bundist.
  • Yiddish speaker, interpreter and teacher
  • Human Rights activist.
  • Mother.  Grandmother.  Great-grandmother

Esther Zylberberg was born in Lodz 1928. Her pre-war childhood was spent immersed in Yiddish culture. Esther’s parents were active members of the Bund, the Polish Jewish Workers Socialist Movement whose values of equality and justice have informed Esther throughout her life.

Listen to the statement she made at the end of the walk in Somerset here: Statement for Anne Frank 2015/1945

The youngest of three children, Esther managed to stay with her mother as far as Auschwitz where they were separated and her mother killed. At the end of the War, Esther was liberated from Belsen and evacuated to Sweden where she stayed for two years. She came to England and settled in London to be with her brother.

Out of her entire family only Esther and her brother Perec survived. Esther became a leading member of the Yiddish Theatre where she met her husband, artist and scenic designer, Stanislaw Brunstein.

In the 1990’s Esther found her voice again speaking out on human rights issues and campaigning against Holocaust denial.

At 87 she lives in North London in a Jewish Care Home. Esther is very pleased to be associated with the Forced Walks project.

At the end of the second day of the walk in Somerset Esther gave a statement to the Anne Frank Center in New York, it was social networked around the world.

Listen to Esther’s statement here: Statement for Anne Frank 2015/1945

This is the text of the statement:

Networked April 15 2015 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Belsen

Old Jewish Burial Ground Bath to Anne Frank Centre New York

I feel honoured to be saying a few words to you today thinking of the 70th Anniversary of the liberation of Belsen and also thinking of Anne Frank with whom I feel a strong connection. We were contemporaries, our birthdays were a year apart. We both lived under Nazi rule at a very impressionable age. I always felt that in particular the upbringing I had at home and at school laid good foundations for me for life. I came from a Bundist, Jewish Socialist background that had the right values. Idealism and ideals never die, I hold them dear to my heart, they are still true for me now as they were for Anne.

I am no speaker, just an ordinary survivor of an unparalleled tragedy that befell our people. 70 years has passed since 1945, but for me not a single day has gone by without me at somepoint re-living the pain and trauma. I don’t wish it, I don’t will it, it just comes and haunts me. 70 years on, and I still cannot come to terms with, let alone comprehend, but am forced to accept the total destruction of the world I knew and the life I was born into.

I survived Auschwitz and Belsen, sadly Anne didn’t. Reading her diary, I felt a kindred spirit, sharing the same values as mine. Tragically Anne is not with us, but I, at 86, am, and I want to say how very important it is to read her diary, and the testimonies of survivors, to tell the world what we went through and to make sure it never ever happens again.

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