Holocaust survivor to share her story

STORY OF COURAGE ... Holocaust survivor Zdenka Fantlova will share her story.
STORY OF COURAGE ... Holocaust survivor Zdenka Fantlova will share her story.

A HOLOCAUST survivor is coming to South Tyneside to share her life story.

Zdenka Fantlova will be at the Customs House in Mill Dam, South Shields, on Tuesday, January 28 – the day after Holocaust Memorial Day.

The 91-year-old Czechoslovakian will be giving a unique account of how she lived through six Nazi concentration camps, and put her life at risk to hold on to a tin engagement ring which was made for her by her first love, Arno.

Sadly, unknown to the determined 17-year-old, Arno had not survived, but she made sure the symbol of their love did.

The grandmother said: “I don’t feed people with all the horrors, they already know all about that.

“What is very important to me is there is a question and answer after the talk.

“It is very interesting to find out what people know or knew about and what they didn’t.”

Ms Fantlova believes that passing on the lessons she’s learnt by living through the atrocities of the Holocaust – now more than 70 years ago – was so important that she turned down a meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron to come to South Tyneside. She added: “I received an invitation from the Prime Minister on the same day as the Customs House event but, not only had I made a commitment, I felt it would be more important to pass on what I know.”

During the Holocaust, Ms Fantlova lost her entire family and was forced to take part in death marches.

She saw humanity at its bleakest while in camps such as Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen.

The talk is called The Tin Ring after the precious trinket Arno gave her, and the book of the same name which Ms Fantlova penned about her life.

She dedicated the book to an unknown British soldier who saved her when Belsen was liberated in 1945.

Despite turning 92 next month, Ms Fantlova is still finding time to tour the country, write a second book and visit the gym three times a week.

Customs House marketing co-ordinator Ali Brown said: “Zdenka Fantlova is a remarkable woman, who has lived through some unspeakable things.

“We invite you to listen to her incredible true story of human endurance, which tells of how love and hope gave her the strength and will to live.”

The event has been programmed to mark Holocaust Memorial Day. A collection will be raised on the night for the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.

Tickets for the talk cost £16 with a £15 concession, and £14 for Friends of the Customs House and students.

To book, go to www.customshouse.co.uk or call the box office on 454 1234.

Twitter: @shieldsgazvicki