Surviving the Holocaust

An Educational Presentation for Schools

Zahava Kohn (Kanarek) | Hephzibah Rudofsky (Kohn)

Zahava Kohn (Kanarek) was born in Palestine and grew up in Amsterdam in the 1930’s. As part of a Jewish family living in Nazi Europe, these were turbulent times: she and her family were captured and sent to Westerbork transit camp in Holland and then later to Bergen-Belsen in Germany. They were released in 1945 and, following a prolonged period of intensive rehabilitation in Switzerland, settled back in Amsterdam hoping to re-build their disrupted and shattered lives.
In 1958, Zahava moved to London. She married Dr Ralph Kohn (now Sir Ralph Kohn) a pharmacologist in March 1963, and they have lived in London ever since. They have three daughters and five grandchildren.

In 2001, Zahava discovered her late mother’s archive of documents and memories–precariously collected during the war–which had been hidden away in a small suitcase at the back of her mother’s cupboard. Armed with this mountain of memories, Zahava wove together the story of her family’s wartime experiences in the book, ‘Fragments of a Lost Childhood’ (published in 2009). Since its publication, Zahava–together with her daughter Hephzibah–has visited schools across the UK and in Germany to talk to young people of all backgrounds about ‘Surviving the Holocaust’. She brings a selection of these original documents to each talk.

She also regularly contributes to education sessions at London’s Jewish Museum and the Holocaust Centre in Nottinghamshire and participates in the charity, ‘Speakers for Schools’. The response to all her sessions has been overwhelmingly positive.

In the words of a teacher:

“Thank you both for such an uplifting, extraordinary and inspiring lecture – full of hope, forgiveness, and looking ahead – living life without regrets – phenomenal message for all future generations.”

Zahava’s story has been featured online by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.

In April 2015, Zahava was a guest on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.

In September 2015, Zahava was awarded the ‘Freedom of the City of London’ for her work in Holocaust education.

Zahava has been actively involved in a wide range of charitable work over the years, supporting the arts and music as well as scientific, educational and humanitarian causes.

“A very moving account. Puts life into a perspective that students find difficult to attain. The human contact here today has done more than many hours in the classroom” - Beal High School