Thursday 14 June 2018

The Day I Finally Met Belsen Survivor, Tomi Reichental

Talking about Belsen with Tomi Reichental in Cambridge
Ever since publishing Liberating Belsen Concentration Camp - A Personal Account by my late father, Leonard Berney in 2015, I've been very aware of everything Belsen-related happening online and especially on Twitter. So I had seen many articles, videos and TV appearances about Dublin-based Belsen Survivor, Tomi Reichental who was a child at Belsen. But we just had never bumped into each other at any of the many Holocaust-related events I've attended over the past three years.

So I decided to get in touch with him and found out he happened to be delivering a talk about his Belsen experience at the Cambridge Union, the world's oldest continuously running debating society on Thursday 14th June 2018. At last, this was a chance for me to hear him talk and to meet him!

When we met just before his talk, he seemed very pleased to meet me and I was certainly very pleased to meet him! His talk really made you understand what it was like being Jewish and a child during the Holocaust, and what it was like being at Belsen at such a young age. It was very moving.

After the talk, I was so honoured that he wanted to sit and talk with me; we chatted for over an hour! We agreed to keep in touch and I very much look forward to seeing him again soon.

Tomi Reichental delivering his Belsen talk

Tomi wearing his Star of David as he was forced to do by the Nazis

I was so honoured to meet Tomi!

At the main entrance of the Cambridge Union with Tomi
Read about my meeting with another Belsen survivor, Gena Turgel, in 2015:
Daily Mail Online: British soldier fell in love with Jewish inmate at Belsen concentration camp

Liberating Belsen Concentration Camp (eBook Kindle edition)
by (former) Lt-Colonel Leonard Berney R.A. T.D., edited by John Wood, Forewords by Major-General Nicholas Eeles CBE, Nanette Blitz Konig, Introduction by Joshua Oppenheimer