Holocaust survivor to visit Banbridge

A WOMAN who was orphaned when her parents were killed during the Holocaust will visit Banbridge to give her heart-rending testimony at a public event in the Old Town Hall.

Joanna Millan, born Bela Rosenthal in Germany during WWII, will visit the town on Wednesday April 25 as part of the council’s Good Relations Programme in an event made possible by the Holocaust Educational Trust.

The testimony will be followed by a question and answer session to enable those in attendance to better understand the nature of the Holocaust and to explore its lessons in more depth.

The visit is part of the Holocaust Educational Trust’s extensive all-year-round Outreach Programme, which is available to schools across the UK, and Joanna will also be delivering her testimony to secondary school students within the district during her two-day visit.

Joanna, who became a magistrate later in life, lost her father to the notorious Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp while her mother died of TB which contracted in the Theresienstadt ghetto.

After liberation Bela, along with five other surviving orphans, was flown to England in British bomber planes which had been used to return Czech pilots who had been flying with the RAF during the war. After living in a series of children’s homes, Bela was adopted by a Jewish couple living in London.

Bela then became Joanna, after her adoptive parents decided it would be safer to change her name to a less German-sounding one.

She went on to marry a Jewish man and has three children and eight grandchildren. She speaks regularly about her experiences during the Holocaust.

Councillor Joan Baird, Chairman of Banbridge District Council said, “It is a privilege for us to welcome Joanna Millan to our District and her testimony will remain a powerful reminder of the horrors so many experienced. We are grateful to the Holocaust Educational Trust for co-ordinating the visit and we hope that by hearing Joanna’s testimony, it will especially encourage our students to learn from the lessons of the Holocaust and make a positive difference in their own lives.”

The event will begin at 7.30pm. Admission is free and seating will be on a first come first served basis.

For more information about the Holocaust Educational Trust please visit www.het.org.uk. This event is being delivered through Banbridge District Council’s Good Relations Programme which is part funded through the Office of the First Minister & Deputy First Minister.