Ireland could, and should, have done more for Jews fleeing Nazis, says Varadkar
‘State could have done more for Jews’ Taoiseach Leo Varadkar marked World Holocaust Memorial Day by saying Ireland could have and should have done more for Jews during the second World War.
Speaking at Ireland’s annual Holocaust Memorial Day service at the Mansion House in Dublin, Mr Varadkar told the 600 attendees: “We can never recover what was lost or those who were lost. All we can share is a warning from history. We come together so that we never forget.”
Mr Varadkar met Holocaust survivors Tomi Reichental, Suzi Diamond and Jan Kaminski. Rosel Siev, the other survivor who lives in Ireland, did not attend. The Taoiseach said at the event the story of Ireland during the rise of the Nazis and during the Second World War “was rather a mixed one”. He said the then Taoiseach Éamon de Valera should be commended for recognising Jews in the Constitution, despite criticism and objections at the time.
“That was a courageous stand to take during a particularly dark period of European history. We know he personally intervened to try to help refugees, often against the objections and obstacles of his own civil servants. However, the truth is we, as a State, could have and should have done more.”
The event has taken place annually since 2000.
Candles were lit to symbolise the six million Jewish people who were killed by the Nazis. Onew of the few remaining Holocaust survivors still in Ireland, Doris Segal, (pictured right, courtesy of Holocaust Educational Trust) whose family fled from Nazis in Czechoslovakia and moved to Ireland, died last week at her home in Terenure just days before Holocaust Memorial Day, aged 85.
She was born Dorathea Klepperova in Chomotow, a German speaking town in the Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia, on 16 June, 1932. Ms Segal, her father and mother Gretel travelled by train to Holyhead and arrived by boat in Ireland in the summer of 1939.
Her father Siegfried set up a hat factory in Castlebar, Co Mayo, through a trade mission seeking to attract industry to the west of Ireland.
Her father’s two brothers died in concentration camps and her maternal grandparents were sent to the Theresienstadt concentration camp north of Prague in 1942 before being deported to Auschwitz where they died.
“I was very fond of my grandparents and we were very close. It was very hard saying goodbye to them, even though I did not realise at the time that we would never see each other again,” Ms Segal said in an interview with the Holocaust Education Trust Ireland.
At the age of 12 Doris was sent to boarding school in Dublin. Afterwards she qualified as a physiotherapist and married Jack Segal, who owned a jewellery and metal manufacturing company, in 1958. They had three children: Henry and Michelle, who live in America, and Robert, who lives in Israel.
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