From the concentration camp to Israel – Holocaust survivor: “All this hatred makes me sad” – News

Today is the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust. Eva Erben wanted to get away from the atrocities she had experienced. Now the Israeli government is stealing the peaceful country, says the Holocaust survivor. It only takes one evil person to sow incredible anger in a society.

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Eva Erben was born in 1930 in what was then Czechoslovakia. In 1941 she was deported first to Theresienstadt and later to Auschwitz. Eva Erben and her husband moved to Israel in 1949 to build a future in peace for their family. This peace was shattered again by the Hamas attack on October 7th.

SRF News: When you emigrated to Israel in 1949, your husband said: “Here we will build a house, plant trees, have children, so that our children don’t have to experience what we experienced.” Do you still agree with this sentence today?

Eva Erben: It’s terrible that this sentence is no longer true. All of my children, grandchildren and even a great-grandchild are in the Israeli army. What kind of situation is this, I ask myself? We didn’t want that!

Netanyahu doesn’t defend himself, he destroys people’s livelihoods.

We came to Israel in 1949 hoping for a new, peaceful future. When we arrived there was only desert, no running water, no electricity. We built this country for our children. And what is the Israeli government doing? She is robbing us of our peaceful country.

Do you disagree with the Israeli government?

No, about 85 percent of Israelis, including me, disagree with our government. The Israeli government is a wound on our earth. Netanyahu is destroying Israel. What the settlers are doing to our country is not okay. Netanyahu is of the opinion that he is defending himself against Hamas in Gaza. But he doesn’t defend himself, he destroys people’s livelihoods. There must be a future for all of us. What Netanyahu is doing is ensuring his political survival. There is no humanity there.

old woman with dark hair, speaking into microphone, hand raised.


93-year-old Eva Erben is one of the last survivors of the Holocaust. In 1949 she emigrated to Israel with the hope of never having to experience such atrocities again.

IMAGO / Horst Rudel

You mention the situation in Gaza. What do these images make you feel?

Terrible, just terrible. The world should be ashamed to stand idly by. All this hate makes me sad. The situation of the Palestinians in Gaza is catastrophic. Why isn’t the international community doing something about it? Everything is full of hate.

How do you think the Israeli government should have responded to the October 7 attacks?

No reaction. What has happened is so incredibly terrible that there is no appropriate response. Innocent people were slaughtered. In the face of these terrible acts, all I can do is bewildered. There is no atoning response to it.

They survived the Theresienstadt and Auschwitz concentration camps and most recently the Hamas terrorist attack. Is history repeating itself?

That’s the big question. I think the bad often outweighs the good. It only takes one evil person to sow incredible anger in a society. Hitler managed to convince many people of his ideas and his terrible deeds. He was the architect of evil.

With love you can go far and forget a lot.

Now we need an architect of good to convince people that enough is enough. There are too many atrocities, in history and in the present.

You lost a large part of your family in the Second World War and see how many people are dying in the current war. What gives you strength?

Love. It is the best medicine. With it you can go far and forget a lot.

The interview was conducted by David Karasek and Géraldine Jäggi contributed.

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