Holocaust survivor Gena Turgel, consoler of Anne Frank, dies
LONDON (AP) — Gena Turgel, a Holocaust survivor who comforted Anne Frank at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp before the young diarist's death and the camp's liberation a month later, has died. She was 95.
Turgel died Thursday, Britain's chief rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, said on Twitter. The news triggered tributes from some of the people the Polish native touched in the decades she shared her World War II experiences, including witnessing the horrors of the Nazi camps at Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Bergen-Belsen.
After World War II, Turgel married one of Bergen-Belsen's British liberators, Norman Turgel, earning the nickname "The Bride of Belsen." Her wedding dress, made from parachute silk, is part of the collection of the Imperial War Museum in London.
Turgel attended Britain's annual Holocaust remembrance two months ago in a wheelchair with a blanket draped over her knees.
"My story is the story of one survivor, but it is also the story of 6 million who perished," she said at the event in London's Hyde Park. "Maybe that's why I was spared – so my testimony would serve as a memorial like that candle that I light, for the men, women and children who have no voice."
Born in Krakow, Poland as Gena Goldfinger on Feb. 1, 1923, Turgel had to move with her family in 1941 to a Jewish ghetto with only a sack of potatoes, some flour and a few belongings. One brother was shot by the Nazi SS police and another disappeared after trying to escape, according to the Holocaust Educational Trust in London.
A sister of hers was shot while trying to smuggle food into a labor camp. In January 1945, Turgel and her mother were forced onto a death march from Auschwitz, leaving her remaining sister behind.