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Holocaust survivor to lead Ballingarry Famine Walk

A Holocaust Survivor will lead this year’s Famine 1848 Walk which takes place in Ballingarry on Saturday, 26 July at 3pm. The annual Walk remembers all those who died during the Great Famine (1845-1850) and the 1848 Rising which took place in Ballingarry in the middle of the Famine as a response to it.

A Holocaust Survivor will lead this year’s Famine 1848 Walk which takes place in Ballingarry on Saturday, 26 July at 3pm. The annual Walk remembers all those who died during the Great Famine (1845-1850) and the 1848 Rising which took place in Ballingarry in the middle of the Famine as a response to it.

This year’s Walk will provide a rare opportunity in Ireland to meet a Holocaust Survivor. Tomi Reichental was born in Czechoslovakia in 1935. As a boy, 70 years ago in 1944, he was sent on a packed cattle train to Germany to the Nazi Concentration Camp of Bergen-Belsen. The family had been captured by the Gestapo. 35 members of his immediate family were killed in the Holocaust. He has lived in Ireland since 1959.

For 55 years between 1945 and 2000 he did not speak of his experiences at the hands of the Nazis to anyone. He was unable to talk about it. But he now feels that as one of the last witnesses he should speak out. In Ballingarry he will speak on his personal experience of a Nazi concentration camp and what it was like to be hungry every day.

The Walk takes place from the Young Ireland and National Flag monument in the village of The Commons and covers over one and a half miles of gently ascending ground to the Famine Warhouse, a state national monument and the scene of the 1848 Rising which is now a museum.

A million Irish people died of starvation and disease during the Great Famine and another million fled the country. The Famine Rising resulted in the state trial for High Treason and death sentences later commuted to transportation to Van Diemen’s Land for William Smith O’Brien, Thomas Francis Meagher and other leaders.

The Walk is an annual act of witness and remembrance organised by the Ballingarry 1848 Society. All are welcome on the Walk or at the Museum to view the exhibition and audio-visual. Tomi Reichental’s memoir, ‘I was a boy in Belsen’, will be on sale and will be signed by the author.

 

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