Daughter of Holocaust survivors forms unlikely friendship with grandson of Nazi SS war criminal who organised slave labour in concentration camps as pair tour UK to remind people of the dangers of racial hatred
They are on opposite sides of one of the most harrowing chapters in human history.
Former GP Noemie Lopian is the daughter of two Holocaust survivors. Writer and teacher Derek Niemann is the grandson of a Nazi war criminal and SS officer.
Yet the two have forged an unlikely friendship and now travel the country (그리고 해외) together to tell their stories and remind people of the horrors of Nazi genocide and the dangers of racial hatred.
현저하게, given her painful family background, it was Noemie, 55, who initiated the first meeting which would lead to their partnership, feeling compelled to meet the man whose grandfather had played a role in the suffering and murder of millions of Jewish people during the Holocaust.
‘Sometimes I can’t believe I did it,’ says Noemie, 네 아이의 엄마, who lives in Manchester with her husband, Dani, 사업가.
Noemie Lopian is the daughter of two Holocaust survivors. Writer and teacher Derek Niemann (둘 다 사진) is the grandson of a Nazi war criminal. The pair have formed a friendship
‘Why would I want to? But it came down to something deep within me. A need to be proactive about my past and find a way to use it for the good.
‘And when we met, Derek so readily agreed that we had to do something together.’
Noemie’s mother, Renee Bornstein was just 10 when she was imprisoned by the Gestapo after trying to flee her native France.
Noemie’s late father, Ernst, endured incalculable suffering in labour and concentration camps during the war – including the notorious Dachau concentration camp near Munich. His own parents and two of his siblings perished in Auschwitz.
During the same period Derek’s grandfather, Karl Niemann, who had voluntarily joined the Nazi party, had been recruited by the SS as an accountant and administrator.
Rising to the equivalent rank of an SS captain, he organised slave labour in concentration camps such as Auschwitz, Dachau, Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen.
Karl died before his grandson was born. 데릭, 지금 60, only learned the chilling family secret a decade ago, since his own father, Rudi, had never disclosed the truth of his background.
Instead Rudi had described Karl as a lowly bank clerk leading an ordinary life in Berlin.
Noemie’s mother, Renee Bornstein was 10 when she was imprisoned by the Gestapo. Noemie’s late father, Ernst, suffered in concentration camps. 사진: Noemie, 왼쪽, 1년 전과 비교했을 때, brother Alain and sister Muriel)
During the same period Derek’s grandfather, Karl Niemann (사진), who had voluntarily joined the Nazi party, had been recruited by the SS as an accountant and administrator
그래서, on a trip to Berlin 10 여러 해 전에, Derek decided look up to the house where his father had grown up. Cross referencing the name and address online, horrifying words filled the screen.
‘Home of SS-Hauptsturmführer Karl Niemann… crimes against humanity… use of slave labour.’
Derek said: ‘I was completely shocked. There hadn’t been a single clue. My father always said his father was a pen pusher. It was unbelievable.’
Pledging to find out more, Derek began to probe his father and her sister, going on to write a book, A Nazi in the Family, about his family – it was published three years ago. His father died in 2017.
Meanwhile Noemie had given up her work as a GP to raise her children and work in Holocaust education.
When she heard about Derek’s book via a Facebook contact she felt compelled to meet him, introducing herself after discovering he was giving a talk in London.
The two immediately connected, pledging to tell their stories to fight Holocaust denial and rising antisemitism. Not least on Holocaust Memorial Day, which takes place every year on January 27th.
Yet however many times Noemie hears Derek`s words she always endures his story with stirring unease.
Not least when he talks of one of his father`s particular memories: how the family had stayed in the SS barracks at Dachau.
Rudi, then a child, remembered his parents standing at the window looking out at a low building with smoke rising from a chimney. Rudi’s mother said to her husband – ‘You know what they’re doing there? They’re burning the Jews. They’re killing them, and then burning the bodies.’
Noemie’s own father, Ernst, spent part of his harrowing internment in Dachau.
Ernst remained in Germany after the war, qualifying as both a dentist and a doctor. He died of a heart attack when he was just 55 and Noemie was 12 – after which the family moved to the UK.
But her mother, Renee is profoundly supportive of her daughter’s friendship with Derek and his family and gave it her blessing. Seeing it as a need to show the world what, in Karl Niemann, ordinary people are capable of.
데릭 (pictured with Noemie), 지금 60, only learned the chilling family secret a decade ago, since his own father, Rudi, had never disclosed the truth of his background
It was Noemie, 55, who initiated the first meeting with Derek and now they travel to tell their stories and remind people of the horrors of Nazi genocide and the dangers of racial hatred
Noemie said: ‘My father was such a humane man. As a doctor after the war, he treated everyone including Germans. He wouldn’t allow himself to hate. He said hatred eats up the person who hates.’
Ernst did write a book, The Long Night, chronicling his terrible experiences. Published only in German in 1967, Noemie could only bring herself to read it nearly 30 years later after which she had it translated into English.
She is now working on an animated version of The Long Night as well as a narrative computer game to help educate young people about the Holocaust.
Karl Niemann was interned in prison camps for about three years after the end of the war, and was sent to the denazification commission and charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.
하나, clearly this failed to have a sobering effect on his son, Rudi who remained openly antisemitic.
‘My father had Jewish friends yet made disparaging remarks about ‘those Jews’. I remember my mum once wanted to buy a menorah, 그리고 그는 말했다: ‘I’m not having that Jewish thing in the house.’
Little wonder Noemie and Derek continue their quest to spread their message to anyone who will listen
‘Derek and I want to inspire people to have the courage to speak out. And to realise that people can be united even from different backgrounds in a common cause of humanity.’