Sometimes you stumble across something on radio or TV which hits you right between the eyes. It can come out of the blue. A thunderbolt. It can knock you off your feet. Today, such a moment.
I was driving back from nursery after dropping off Miss J and like every day I was tuned in to Radio 4 for the Today Programme. Always a more enjoyable experience when, as today, Nick Robinson is on the rota, I settled in to enjoy the final part of the show. We were approaching 9am, a time when you can get an interview or discussion that is often far away from the main news of the day. Nick introduced his guest by mentioning a new film, Destination Unknown, which chronicles the lives of several Holocaust survivors. To talk about the film, he was joined in the studio by one of those who featured it in; 92-year-old, Ed Mosberg.
The interview focused on why Mr Mosberg was still talking about the Holocaust – including in his regular visits to schools – so many years on. Wasn’t it time to forget; to forgive? ‘Never’ was the reply. Mr Mosberg explained how he had lost his parents, his grandparents, his uncles, his aunties and his two sisters in the Nazi death camps and reminded us that six million jews and countless others who weren’t jews were sent to their deaths in that despicable act of supreme barbarism; an act that still makes me shiver when I think of it.
He spoke slowly, clearly and powerfully, belying his advancing years and the pain that he has lived with for over 70 years. It was captivating and humbling to hear his understated passion for telling his story. A story that all who live in this world should know. A story we should never, ever stop telling. A story that is as important today as it has been at any time since those hideous 1940’s days. Then came the thunderbolt.
Mr Mosberg pointed out that 27 January is Holocaust Day according to the United Nations – a day when there is formal commemoration around the world of this darkest of passages of history. But it is different for him; “Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday; every day of my life is a Holocaust Day.” The tears streamed down my face as I made my way home.
He has dedicated his life – a life decimated by what he saw; what he experienced in the Krakow ghetto, the Plaszow concentration camp, the Mauthausen-Gusen camp in Austria and Herman Goering’s factor in Linz. He lost sixteen members of his family. Sixteen members of his family. He stopped being a person in the eyes of his torturers – he became a number – 85454 – a number he still wears today. He wears the number, something he told Nick that hurts him, as it prompts people to ask him what it is and he gets the chance to tell them his story. He gets the chance to spread the word; to be a teacher once again.
It seems at times that our world is full of darkness but Mr Mosberg shows us that in the darkest of the dark hours there can emerge the most wonderful, beautiful, blinding light. If Mr Mosberg can carry his story around the world – then the very least we can do is help share his story. Let us all commit ourselves to follow his astounding example. Let us all be teachers. Let us all remember the Holocaust; not just on 27 January, but every day.
Picture of Ed Mosberg taken from BBC Today Programme twitter account.