PREVIEW: Holocaust survivor snubs David Cameron to give talk at The Customs House

Holocaust survivor Zdenka Fantlova.
Holocaust survivor Zdenka Fantlova.
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A HOLOCAUST survivor turned down a meeting with the Prime Minister to share her life story at The Customs House.

Zdenka Fantlova is due to appear at the Mill Dam venue in South Shields on Tuesday, January 28 – the day after Holocaust Memorial Day.

The 91-year-old will be giving a unique account of how she lived through six Nazi concentration camps and put her life at risk to hold on to a tin engagement ring her first love Arno made her.

Sadly, unbeknown to a determined 17-year-old Zdenka, he did not survive but she made sure their love and the symbol of their love did.

The grandmother said: “I don’t feed people with all the horrors; they already know all about that. What is very important and valuable to me is there is a question and answer after the talk. It is very interesting for me to find out what people know or knew about and what they didn’t.”

Zdenka felt passing on the lessons she’d learnt through living through the atrocities of the Holocaust more than 70 years ago was so important she turned down a meeting with David Cameron.

She added: “I received an invitation from the Prime Minister on the same day as The Customs House event but not only had I made a commitment but I felt it would be more important to pass on some wisdom.”

During the Holocaust, Zdenka lost her entire family and was forced to take part in death marches and saw humanity at its bleakest while in camps such as Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen.

The talk is called The Tin Ring after the precious trinket Arno gave her and the book of the same name which Zdenka penned about her life and dedicated to an unknown British soldier who saved her when Belsen was liberated in 1945.

Despite turning 92 next month Zdenka is still finding time to tour the country, write a second book and visit the gym three times a week.

Customs House Marketing Co-ordinator Ali Brown said: “Zdenka Fantlova is a remarkable woman who has lived through some unspeakable atrocities.

“We invite you to listen to her incredible true story of human endurance, which tells of how love and hope gave her the strength and will to live.”

This event has been programmed to mark Holocaust Memorial Day. A collection will be raised on the night for the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.

Tickets are £16, £15 conc. and £14 for Friends and students and are available from The Customs House box office on (0191) 454 1234 or visit www.customshouse.co.uk.