We are saddened to learn that yesterday (Thursday 31st January) Holocaust survivor Harry Bibring passed away aged 93.

Harry was born in Vienna in December 1925 where he lived happily with his parents and sister Gerda. Austria became occupied by Nazi Germany in 1938 at which time Jewish families, including Harry’s experienced the change and persecution driven by the Nazi regime.

At school Harry was victim to the segregation in place between Jewish and non-Jewish children and experienced his friends no longer talking to him as a result.

Harry’s father owned a shop which was destroyed in the November Pogrom, the day after which, his father was arrested. Harry, his mother, and sister were taken by the Nazi police to be held in police headquarters and a flat with 50 other Jewish women and children for 10 days.

Once the family were released and reunited Harry’s parents were urgently aware of the need to leave Vienna for somewhere safer. They made the decision for Harry and Gerda to leave Vienna on the Kindertransport. They left on March 13th 1939 with Harry aged 13 and they arrived in London March 15th, scared, and unable to speak any English. Harry and his sister were then separated and lived with different families. They communicated with one another and with their parents via letters.

Their parents tried desperately to join Harry and Gerda in England however were never able to and ultimately were both murdered by the Nazi regime. Harry’s father suffered a fatal heart attack after his arrest that would have seen him transported to a Concentration camp and Harry’s mother died in the Sobibór death camp.

Harry had a long successful career in engineering. Harry went on to meet and marry his wife Muriel with whom they had a son Michael together and have both grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Harry has tirelessly dedicated much of his time to educating others about the Holocaust. He spoke to educational groups, shared his testimony and strived to impact the lives of all those who heard him speak in the hope of encouraging equality and decreasing the prejudice and discrimination that were at the root of The Holocaust.

Harry spoke here at the Centre to school groups and wrote in our Journeys book that, “If you hear one person discriminate against another just because he is a different colour or follows a different religion, you have to stand up and say, “stop!” If you don’t, it can lead to what became the Holocaust.”

Harry’s passing is a great loss to the survivor family we hold dearly within our hearts here at Beth Shalom and we wish his family peace and strength at this saddening time. Harry worked hard to stand up for what was right, and it is important that his life is honoured and remembered well, for the lives he altered for the better.