Neil White’s Story

Picture: Victoria Wilcox Neil White at the Derby Telegraph

Picture: Victoria Wilcox
Neil White at the Derby Telegraph

I was living as a student in Germany when the words Arbeit Macht Frei first resonated with me.

 Some pals and I had arranged a weekend in Munich and after a few hours in the Hofbrauhaus, we visited Dachau.

 Never have I sobered up more quickly.

 The scenes of torture in that concentration camp beggared belief and began a life-long interest in the Holocaust.

 Since then I have been back to Dachau with my wife and taken my family for my first visit to the death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

 Of course, we had seen films such as Schindler’s List (we also visited the Oskar Schindler factory in Krakow) but nothing could have prepared us for the scale of horror at the death camp.

 But the memorial which affected me the most was not in Europe but at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

 There, the simple effect of candles in a multi-mirrored room in which names of victims were read was startling but more so were the tombstones inscribed with names of those who died in individual cities in Europe.

 One was dedicated to Essen, the German city in which I had lived. There people had said they had known nothing about the Final Solution but this one tombstone made me doubt them.

 Regardless, it was more evidence that such atrocities should never happen again.