Portrait of a Nazi victim as a violinist


Chaim (Henry) Ferster was 17 when he was forced to give up the violin by the Nazis in 1937. They imprisoned and tortured him in various concentration camps in Poland. It was not until 10 months ago, well into his 90s, that he felt able to pick it up again, such were the horrific memories attached to it…reports Asian Lite News. Please send your comments to newsdesk@asianlite.asianlite.uk

Chaim (Henry) Ferster MBE, 93 at MGS
Chaim (Henry) Ferster MBE, 93 at MGS

The Manchester Grammar School for Boys has marked Holocaust Memorial Day by welcoming the survivor of eight Nazi concentration camps to the School.

Chaim (Henry) Ferster MBE, 93, who has lived in Cheetham Hill since 1946, spoke to Year 9 boys at The Manchester Grammar School about his harrowing experiences, before giving another talk to members of the School’s Jewish Society.

He spoke emotionally about being separated from his family and being forced to endure the brutal and violent conditions of eight different death camps, and being so hungry that surviving his starvation was all he could focus on, to detriment of his faith at that time.

Chaim was forced to give up the violin when he was imprisoned by the Nazis, and it was not until ten months ago, well into his 90s, that he felt able to pick it up again, such were the horrific memories attached to it. However, in a poignant moment at the end of his talk, Chaim played the violin to an audience of boys and staff who listened with intent to his every word.

The talk was also of personal significance for Chaim as his grandson Arron attended MGS and left in 2005. Last year, Chaim was awarded a British Empire Medal for services to Holocaust education.

Mayer Hersh by Nigel Maitland

Chaim agreed to speak at MGS after Holocaust survivor Mayer Hersh MBE, of Prestwich, decided to retire from public speaking after more than a decade of talks at The Manchester Grammar School.

Chaim was 17 and living in Poland in 1939 when he was imprisoned in the first of eight concentration camps, including Auschwitz-Bikenau and Buchenwald, over the next six years.

He lost many family members during the Holocaust, before emigrating to England where he embarked on a successful business career.

He said: “I speak about the Holocaust because it must not be forgotten. Six million Jews perished and it must never be forgotten.”

Pupil Harrison Engler said: “We were very fortunate, and privileged, to have Chaim speak at MGS. Whether you have heard one survivor speak, or ten, hearing a survivor’s testimony is a unique, moving experience. We are the last generation able to hear an eye-witness testimony of one of the most important historical events of the last century and it was an honour to welcome such a distinguished man as Chaim.”

PICS GALLERY BY Nigel Maitland