Heroism in the Holocaust

Sydney survivor to be honoured at Yom Hashoah commemoration

The theme of the event is "Heroism in the Holocaust", marking 80 years since the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

Holocaust survivor Yvonne Engelman. Photo: Katherine Griffiths
Holocaust survivor Yvonne Engelman. Photo: Katherine Griffiths

“It’s very sad, but I also feel like the victorious one because I have survived the war,” Holocaust survivor Yvonne Engelman told The AJN ahead of Yom Hashoah.

The life of Engelman will be honoured by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBD) with a moving video at the community’s Yom Hashoah commemoration this Sunday.

The keynote address at the commemoration will be delivered by Thomas Keneally, author of Schindler’s Ark, with other segments including a tribute to partisan fighters by the Sydney Jewish Choral Society singing the Partisan Song. The night will also feature Sydney’s Jewish youth movements.

The theme of the event is “Heroism in the Holocaust”, marking 80 years since the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

Engelman was born in 1927 in Dovhe, Czechoslovakia. An only child, Engelman and her parents were first taken to the ghetto, before they were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Her parents were immediately sent to the gas chambers, while she, aged just 15, narrowly escaped death when a gas chamber she was sent to malfunctioned.

After surviving the war – the sole survivor of her family – Engelman arrived in Sydney in 1948, where she learned English and met her husband, also a survivor.

“I have got four generations, so Hitler has definitely not achieved what he set out to achieve,” Engelman said.

“I am able still to be useful; I still go to the museum every Tuesday and talk to the schoolchildren, and I see my family growing up in a free country and achieving what their father and I never thought.”

Engelman said it’s so important to commemorate the Holocaust, so future generations never forget the horrors that took place.

“We should be vigilant and aware and teach the young people what we have actually lived through,” she said.

Relatives of survivors who passed away in recent years can honour the survivor through the JBD’s “Their Names Survive” initiative. The survivor’s name and photo will be displayed on screen before the Yom Hashoah commemoration, with survivors who died in the past year to be honoured on screen during the annual “In Memoriam” segment.

Also this Sunday, the JBD will host a memorial service and a recitation of “Unto Every Person There is a Name” (reading of Holocaust victims’ names) at the Martyrs’ Memorial, Rookwood Cemetery.

Youth HEAR will hold its commemoration, themed “Stories of Hope”, on Monday night.

More info: nswjbd.org/events/yomhashoah2023, youthhear.org.au/upcoming-events

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