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Lily Ebert was celebrating the milestone with family on Wednesday, surrounded by more than 2,500 birthday cards, saying it was proof the Nazis did not win.
The 98-year-old said: “I never expected to survive Auschwitz. Now, at 98, I celebrate surrounded by my family - the Nazis did not win!”
The cards came from all over the globe, and were sent by well-wishers including schools, organisations, and even MPs and peers, said Lily’s great-grandson, Dov Forman.
The 18-year-old had appealed to the pair’s 1.5 million TikTok followers to “send her some love”, and thousands of kind-hearted strangers responded by posting messages to Lily’s letterbox.
He told the Standard: “It is so humbling to see so many people, from all over the world, respond to my request to surprise Lily for her birthday!
“My great-grandmother has not just survived Auschwitz and the Holocaust; she has built a large and loving family with three children, 10 grandchildren and 34 great grandchildren who all love her very much.”
He added that the occasion was “another of life’s affirmations – the Nazis, and the prejudice and hatred that they stood for, didn’t win.”
Lily and Dov have built up a substantial following on TikTok with emotional and heart-warming videos sharing the 98-year-old’s story of survival from the infamous Auschwitz death camp.
Today my incredible great grandma Lily Ebert, a Holocaust survivor, turns 98!!
“I never expected to survive Auschwitz. Now, at 98, I celebrate surrounded by my family - the Nazis did not win!”
To the thousands of people who sent birthday cards & messages to Lily, THANK YOU ❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/TT7PQ6ikrv
— Dov Forman (@DovForman) December 29, 2021
In July 1944, the Nazis deported 14-year-old Lily from her home town of Bonyhad in Hungary with her mother, brother and three sisters to Auschwitz.
On arrival, her mother Nina, brother Bela and sister Berta were sent to the gas chamber by the ‘Angel of Death’ Dr Mengele, and Lily never saw them again.
After about four months in Auschwitz, the sisters were sent to an ammunition factory in Leipzig, and after the city was liberated by the Allies, Lily eventually came to London with her husband and children.
Her story is told in a recent book co-written by her and Dov called ‘Lily’s Promise’, which was released by Macmillan in September.
The foreword to the book is written by the Prince of Wales, who is patron of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.
Lily previously made headlines after her great-grandson used social media to track down the family of an American GI who had given her a banknote after liberation, on which he had written: “Good luck and happiness”.