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A photo of Holocaust survivor Tomi Reichental's relatives before the war. Photo by: Irish Independent

Holocaust survivor proud to lead annual Famine commemoration in Tipperary

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A photo of Holocaust survivor Tomi Reichental's relatives before the war. Photo by: Irish Independent

A holocaust survivor who built a new life in Ireland is to lead the annual Famine commemorations in Tipperary on Sunday.

Tomi Reichental will recall his horrific experiences and examine the themes of hunger and exile at the Famine 1848 Walk in Farranrory, Co Tipperary.

The Irish Independent reports that the Slovakian born survivor will lead the walk which commemorates all those who died, fled and tried to stage a public rebellion during the Famine and Rising of 1848.

Reichental told the paper: “As a survivor of the Holocaust who experienced starvation, it was only natural that I should agree to lead the commemoration.”

Aged nine, he was taken with his family from their home in Bratislava and sent to ‘hell on earth’ - the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany.

He recalled: “We saw emaciated skeletons walking very slowly, aimlessly, shaved heads, eyes sunk in the sockets of the skull.”

Now 79, Reichental said he knows all about the degradation that comes with the ache of hunger.

He added: “Our daily food consisted of two slices of bread and black coffee in the morning, turnips boiled in water for lunch and two slices of bread with coffee in the evening, around 700 calories a day.”

Reichental, his mother and his brother survived at Belsen until the camp was liberated in April, 1945. They lost 35 members of their family in the Holocaust.

He said: “Some were gassed, some were worked to death, some were executed, and some were starved.”

The father of three moved to Ireland to work as an engineer in Dublin in 1959 and is feature in a documentary by Irish state broadcaster RTE.

He told the Irish Independent that is proud to be the first Jew to lead the Famine 1948 Walk as Jews had made significant efforts for the Irish during their time of dire need.

He added: “Jewish banker Lionel de Rothschild set up the British Relief Association, the biggest and best organization at sending food to Ireland.” 

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