‘Remarkable life’ of Holocaust survivor Freda Wineman remembered

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Prime Minister David Cameron signs the Book of Commitment ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day as Holocaust survivor Freda Wineman watches at 10 Downing Street in London (Suzanne Plunkett/PA) (PA Archive)
Prime Minister David Cameron signs the Book of Commitment ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day as Holocaust survivor Freda Wineman watches at 10 Downing Street in London (Suzanne Plunkett/PA) (PA Archive)

The “remarkable life” of Holocaust survivor Freda Wineman has been remembered following her death at the age of 98.

Staff at the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET) and Health Secretary Sajid Javid are among those pay tribute to Ms Wineman, who lived in the UK and shared her experience at schools so that history would not be forgotten.

As a French-born Jewish teenager at the outbreak of the Second World War, Ms Wineman was deported with her family to Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp by the Nazis.

She was separated from her family, disinfected, and branded with the code A.7181.

To mark last year’s anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Ms Wineman shared her experience in The Independent “in order to stop the atrocities of the past from happening again”.

She recalled how following her family’s arrival at the camp, her mother was asked to hold the baby of a young woman before unwittingly being sent to the gas chamber, along with her brother Marcel.

During the Second World War, Ms Wineman was forced to work digging trenches and sorting the belongings of inmates who had died in the gas chambers.

When the Allies advanced on the Nazis in 1944, Ms Wineman was taken by cattle train to work in an aeroplane factory, before being sent to Terezin in Czechoslovakia where she was liberated on May 9 1945.

After the war, she was reunited with her two surviving brothers, and married in 1950.

Ms Wineman moved to the UK, where she has two daughters, six grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.

Concluding her story in the Independent, she wrote: “When I speak in schools, I ask students to tell their friends and family what they have heard.

“I say that in the future, if they ever hear anyone question what happened, they should tell them that they heard Freda Wineman, and she survived the Holocaust.

“I ask them to be my witnesses.

“Today, I ask the same of you.

“Please share my story.

“Please be my witness.”

Karen Pollock CBE, chief executive of the HET, has described Ms Wineman as a “softly spoken” person who “exuded warmth and charm”.

“Freda Wineman was a very special woman who touched all of our hearts,” she said.

“Born in France she survived deportation at first to Drancy, and then Auschwitz-Birkenau, where she was in the Kanada Kommando.

“From there, she survived Bergen-Belsen, Raguhn (a satellite of Buchenwald) and Terezin.

“She survived unimaginable horrors, yet dedicated decades to sharing her testimony so that future generations would know what happened during the Holocaust.

“She was awarded a BEM in 2019 for her service to Holocaust education in the UK.

“Freda was softly spoken and exuded warmth and charm, but also demonstrated remarkable determination and strength.

“We are really going to miss Freda and our thoughts and prayers are with her family and the many who loved her.

“May her memory be a blessing.”

Mr Javid shared the HET tribute on Twitter, adding that he felt “privileged” to have met Ms Wineman.

“So very sad.

“I was privileged to meet her.

“May her memory be a blessing,” he said.

Ms Wineman also met former prime minister David Cameron at 10 Downing Street ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day in 2013.

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