Ninety three year old Freddie Knoller visited on Wednesday 29 October to deliver a talk regarding his story and past experiences during and before the Second World War. The speech was particularly relevant considering the upcoming Remembrance Day. The entire audience were silenced by the accessibility and solemnity of his story.
Freddie narrated his real life tales of the harsh reality of what it was like to be on the receiving end of anti-Semitic Nazi behaviour, coupled with his humorous anecdotes regarding his passion to visit the Moulin Rouge and find love. He spoke frankly about evading the law and of the squalor and malnourishment of the numerous prison camps he was subjected to, including Auschwitz. He spoke of the numerous deaths with such normality and frankness it stunned the audience into an unparalleled silence. The dehumanization he underwent in becoming the number ‘157103’ was particularly saddening, along with his family’s entire uprooting and the loss of his parents.
The remarkable story of how Freddie Knoller used extreme determination to avoid death, even by regrettably changing identity and denying his religion, made for a fascinating and grounding lecture. The BBC also wants to tell his tale and a show airing in January 2015 on BBC 2 documents his story. He has two books entirely worth reading as well -‘Desperate Journey’ and ‘Living With The Enemy’, both of which offer a deeper insight into his story.
Ali Johnston, LVI