Holocaust Survivor’s Visit to HBS

Religious Studies

Tragedy, Suffering and Starvation are just a few words that come to mind when one thinks about the holocaust. Zahava Kohn’s visit reminds us never to forget the many lessons learned of the holocaust. Even though these events happened a generation ago, I feel its lessons today are as relevant as many years ago. Sadly, one only has to read about the present Rohingya Crisis and the prevalence of misinformation and fake news (some of which denies the existence of the holocaust) reinforces its relevance today. This is why we were so privileged to have a first-hand account from Zahava Kohn, a holocaust survivor and her daughter, Hephzibah. I can describe Zahava’s story as one of "twists and turns" of events. She was born in Palestine and ironically, moved to Europe for health reasons. When the Nazis invaded Holland on the 10th of May 1940, Life became increasingly difficult for the Dutch Jews. And though she was not old enough to understand what was happening, Zahava knew that something unfathomable was coming.

Unable to leave the country, her family grew desperate- but still her family had hope. On the 26th of May, 1943, Zahava fell ill with a severe case of chickenpox. The SS had come to take the Kohn family away- and put Zahava on separate transport to her parents. Not wanting to be away from her parents, Zahava completely refused her parents’ attempt to calm her. Eventually, the SS relented- why they did is still unknown, but little did the Kohns know that this would save their life. Though this was only the beginning of Zahava’s story, it is definitely not dull. Her account is so inspiring that makes one so appreciative on how fortunate we are today. Zahava’s discovery, in 2001 of her late mother’s archive of documents and memories formed the basis of her story. The result of which is the publication of her book, "Fragments of a lost childhood". Together with her daughter Hephzibah, they continue to spread their inspiring story and lessons. Lessons I feel that us girls at HBS can draw upon- Lessons of determination, kindness, and inclusiveness.

Philippa Marapao, 8S

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