Socialist Worker

Esther Brunstein remembered

by Claire Dissington, anti-Nazi activist
Issue No. 2538

I met Esther in 1992. In the early 1990s the British National Party, gained their first Nazi councillor on the Isle of Dogs.

The BNP had a headquarters in Welling in south London. This was in the area where Stephen Lawrence was murdered by racists.

Holocaust denier David Irving was holding meetings with Nazis and peddling his filth.

Esther Brunstein

Esther Brunstein


Esther became a part of the Anti Nazi League (ANL) campaigns to stop Holocaust denial and stop the growth of Nazis in Britain and across Europe.

This was not something that was easy for Esther. There was not a day when she wasn’t haunted by her experiences in the Ghetto, Auschwitz and Belsen.

She did not find it easy to talk about her experiences and every meeting left her drained and upset. However this didn’t stop her.

Esther was one of thousands who signed the petition to close down the BNP HQ in Welling. She stood outside their Nazi HQ in protest and wrote on the petition that she was “just a human being who survived”.

Experiences

Esther was far more than that. She was a woman who recognised how important her experiences were. She knew that by speaking out she could cut through the lies of Holocaust denial. And she knew her voice was crucial in the fight against the resurgence of fascism.

She was one of the most powerful speakers I have ever heard.

Esther spoke at Anti Nazi League meetings across Britain and Ireland. She spoke at schools, trade unions and workplaces.

When Steven Spielberg made the film Schindler’s List, Esther was chosen to take part, as were other survivors.

She provided the voice over in the scene where the women in the cattle trucks are begging for water. Esther attended many screenings of the film up and down the country and talked of her experiences.

Esther supported and contributed to the ANL pamphlet against Holocaust denial. It was crucial to her that what happened was never forgotten—so that it was never repeated.

She met the parents of Stephen Lawrence and others affected by racism and made a huge impression on them.

She was interested in everything. We would discuss politics, films, theatre and books. She always remembered the people she had met at meetings or campaigning and would ask about their lives.

Her house was full of the paintings by her beloved husband Stan. She had many close friends who visited and would cook a delicious apple strudel.

I will miss her. I feel hugely privileged to have shared time with her. She was a courageous woman who changed the lives of those she met.

Also read I have a mission to bear witness, an interview Esther gave in 2012 and Refusing to forget the horrors of Auschwitz, a speech Esther gave to members of the NUT teachers' union. There is also a film featuring Esther speaking on the Unite Against Fascism website at bit.ly/2kph9Sj

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Article information

News
Tue 24 Jan 2017, 14:49 GMT
Issue No. 2538
Share this article


Related


Tags



Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.