Holocaust survivor Eve Kugler has visited a Bury St Edmunds school to speak about her harrowing experience fleeing Nazi Germany.
To mark Holocaust Remembrance Day, Eve visited St Benedict’s Catholic School on Tuesday, recalling the story of how she escaped Europe to America.
The visit had been arranged by sixth form students and holocaust ambassadors and Martyna Wiecha and Ella Pooley.
The pair, who visited Autzwitz in July last year, have also created a special art exhibition for year 9 students giving them a glimpse of what it was like to be Jewish in Europe during the war.
During her recollection Eve said even as a young girl, born two years after Adolf Hitler gained power, the Nazis were a terrifying sight.
“To me they were everywhere and I was very frightened of them.
“They would always be walking down the street and if you didn’t salute them you could be arrested.
“It was a dangerous time and I could feel it.”
Eve spoke of the moment the Nazis came for her grandfather Marcus to deport him to Poland in 1938, how the family’s shop was later destroyed during the Night of Broken Glass and how they were later evicted from their home.
She described one terrifying moment a Nazi officer picked her up, congratulating her mother for producing such a perfect Aryan child.
“My mother was sitting on a park bench one day when a uniformed Nazi came along, picked me up and started swinging me around,” she said. In due course this Nazi officer put me down and said ‘Madam, you are to be congratulated to have born such a perfect Aryan Nazi child’.
“He was looking at a blue eyed, fair haired child.
“Fortunately he walked off, saluting my mother but my mother didn’t salute back.
“It was obviously a very shocking experience for her.”
The family moved in with their grandfather in 1939, sharing a small flat with 20 others until their visas arrived where they left for France, signing over everything to the Nazis. In September 1939, two days after war broke out, french policemen arrived at their new home in Paris and arrested Eve’s father for being German.
In 1940, a day before the Nazis reached Paris and the French surrendered, the children were evacuated to Limoges. In Spring 1941, the Americans issued visas for a few hundred children in French concentration camps however, as the French resistance could not get them out of the camps, and the visas were so precious, Eve and her sister Ruth managed to get one each.
The family were eventually reunited in New York in 1946.
Martyna said it is crucial children learn about the holocaust.
“It is very important for people to remember it as we are the last generation who can hear from living survivors.
“We are the last ones who will have this personal link and to hear the stories.
“I wanted them to reflect on the individuals and people involved and not just the numbers and statistics.”