An evening with Steven Frank, child survivor of the Holocaust
On Wednesday 21 June 2023, as our contribution to the Festival of Chichester programme, CMHMD were honoured to host a talk by child survivor of the Holocaust, Steven Frank, which took place at Graylingwell Chapel. One member of the audience encapsulates this extremely moving evening:
‘I must say words escape me on how wonderful an evening this was. Profoundly sad, but one of the most amazing talks I have ever had the privilege to attend…. Steven Frank is one of those people you meet in life who are impossible to ever forget.’
Steven Frank was born in Amsterdam in 1935 into a secular Jewish family. His mother, born in Eastbourne, UK had come to study in Amsterdam where she met her future husband, an up and coming young lawyer with a great legal future ahead of him. With the German occupation, he became a member of the Dutch resistance, was betrayed, arrested in his office, tortured and finally transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where he was murdered on the 21st January 1943 at the age of 39. In March 1943 Steven, his mother and two brothers were sent to the first of three camps ending up in Theresienstadt in the Czech Republic. Through his talk Steven shared the horror of their experiences and his perspective as a very young child. Due to his mother’s extraordinary resilience, out of 15,000 children that went to Theresienstadt, Steven and his two brothers were three of only 100 surviving by the time it was liberated on the 9th May 1945.
The family came to England in June 1945 and started to rebuild their lives. When Steven retired, having worked for many years in the water supply industry as a chemist and bacteriologist, Holocaust Education had recently been introduced into the school curriculum and he started going into schools in 1995 and talk about his experiences. He has given close on 900 talks in schools, universities, adult organisations and government departments. He was the first survivor to be filmed in 3D interactively for the “Forever Project” in the UK by the Holocaust Centre and Museum in Laxton, Notts: https://forever.holocaust.org.uk/login/ .
In the Queen’s 2019 New year Honours Steven was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for his services to Holocaust Education. In 2019 a film made with his 14 year old grand daughter of his war time journey with the BBC and broadcast for Holocaust Memorial day on CBBC, was awarded a BAFTA that year and in July 2020 an International Emmy in New York. In 2019 also he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship from the University of Winchester for his work in Holocaust Education.
We are very grateful to Steven for his generosity in sharing his story with us.