Three years ago I was given a collection of 70-year-old diaries, historic documents, a faded manuscript, sepia photos and handwritten letters. It is has been a mammoth editing project and I am pleased to announce the result is Life After Belsen, a WW2/ Holocaust-themed book that captures new insights into the plight of the Jewish people during and after the Nazi Regime and their battle for their own land.
Simon Bloomberg was the leader of the Belsen DP Camp after World War 2, the only Jewish person to fulfill this role. Life After Belsen is his story and offers a first-hand account of the survivors of Bergen-Belsen and other horror camps in Europe.
How did ‘Life After Belsen’ come about?
It was Simon’s daughter Eva Spiers, who gave me the historic material in the hope that I could turn it into a book. Introduced by a mutual friend, Pat Poole, I knew this was an opportunity not to be missed. I’d known Pat from an early age in Zimbabwe and she now lives in Australia next door to Eva. Both had read my books and thought I could tackle Eva’s father’s manuscript.
They felt I had the writing skills but more than that I had an affinity for the story having visited Yad Vashem in Jerusalem and the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC. Also, having been to Israel many times, I understood the hope of Displaced Jews to be resettled in their ancient homeland.
However, it was after a visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland that I came to grips with the magnitude of the story. My heart was wrenched knowing the horrors of what happened, but it was also filled with hope. I saw that it was out of the ashes of the Nazi ovens that Modern Israel would arise.
Launching on the Balfour Centenary
2 November 2017 is the Centenary of the Balfour Declaration and the official launch date of Life After Belsen. This was the day 100 years ago that the British Government announced its support for the establishment of a national home for the Jews. It was only the beginning though of a 31 battle to make this happen.
Sadly, the British backtracked on their commitment leaving millions of Displaced Jews in Camps across Germany in the care of Relief Workers like Simon who did their best to keep their hopes alive while they waited patiently to enter their Promised Land.
In Life After Belsen, Simon provides a candid, though often humorous, eyewitness account of what took place in the DP Camps after the War, highlighting the resilience of the Jewish People, and includes details of ‘The Exodus’ the ship carrying some 4000 Jewish DPs that was forcefully turned back from Israel’s shores. They were sent back to Germany, back behind barbed wire in similar camps to those they had left. It was situations like this that inspired Simon to write his famous quotation,
“Those who are left wait for the day when they can shake the bloodstained dust of Germany from their feet and start a new life in a free land, far away – please God that it may be soon…”
Simon Bloomberg will never be forgotten by those he helped or their descendants. He assisted many displaced persons to make a new home in a place that offered them life after Belsen. And, now that story is yours to read.