Coming to terms with the past

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The Independent Culture
Like many people, I'd never heard of Austrian entrepreneur Oskar Schindler, who saved the lives of over a thousand Jews, before the hype surrounding Steven Spielberg's film took hold. Like many others, I was fascinated by the idea of a positive story emerging from the death and destruction of the Holocaust, bought the book and saw the film. And coming from a family that loves telling stories, I discovered one that I'd never heard before. Mordecai Wulkan, a cousin of my mother's, was a Schindler Jew, saved from the camps by gaining a place on Schindler's list for his Brinnlitz haven. He appears in the book, and in person at the end of the film.

I shared the amazement of Victor Dortheimer's grandson when he learnt what his relative had been through in the war. Victor, another of the Schindler survivors who has now settled in Hampstead, did not even talk to his family about these events for over 20 years. But in tonight's final part of Carlton's Londoners at War series (7.30pm ITV), to mark VE Day, he makes a brave return to the scenes of his wartime ordeal, and pays an emotional visit to Schindler's grave in Israel.

At a time that celebrates peace and freedom, it's important to remember that while the survivors' physical liberation took place 50 years ago, for some, mental liberation from their war experiences is even harder to come by.

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