FOR Holocaust survivor Annetta Able, the launch of her memoir earlier this month was the latest chapter in ensuring that the world never forgets the tyranny of the Nazis.
Annetta, who turns 100 next February and lives independently in Brighton, was surrounded by family and friends at the launch of The Mosaic of My Life at the Hamerkaz Centre, Elsternwick.
“I write for my children and grandchildren and to tell future generations of our survival,” she said during an on-stage Q&A session with journalist Fiona Harari, who had interviewed Annetta and her twin, Stephanie Heller (who died in 2019) for her 2018 book, We Are Here: Talking with Australia’s Oldest Holocaust Survivors.
Born in Czechoslovakia in 1924, Annetta and Stephanie were transported to Theresienstadt in 1942. The following year they were sent to Auschwitz, where the notorious Nazi Dr Josef Mengele experimented on them.
At the end of the war, the pair returned to Czechoslovakia where they learned their entire family had perished. Annetta and husband Jirka and son Michael moved to Israel in 1949 and lived on Kibbutz Givat Chaim, where their other children Danny and Daphna were born. The family moved to Melbourne in 1963.
Over the years the twins did much to ensure that the horrors of the Holocaust would never be forgotten. In 1985, they travelled to Jerusalem to give evidence before an international inquiry that found that Mengele should stand trial for crimes against humanity. They were filmed for 60 Minutes and their bravery is recalled by journalist Jana Wendt (who accompanied them to Israel) in a foreword in The Mosaic of My Life.
At the Mengele inquiry the twins met Professor Nancy Segal, who renewed acquaintance a decade later and wrote about them for her 2005 book, Indivisible by Two – Lives of Extraordinary Twins.
When Annetta’s son Michael emailed her about the book launch, Segal decided to make a special trip to Melbourne to speak at the event.
“I could not miss the launch even though I came here for only two days,” she told the audience of 120 people.
In The Mosaic of My Life, Annetta relives her family history, reflects on a life that was interwoven with Stephanie and the joy she has from her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Also speaking at the book launch, which was hosted by Annetta’s daughter Daphna Carmi, was Anti-Defamation Commission chairman Dr Dvir Abramovich and the Hamerkaz Centre’s Rabbi Motty Liberow.
For information to order a copy of The Mosaic of My Life, email firstname.lastname@example.org