Holocaust survivor Mala Tribich MBE shared her testimony with Wolves Academy’s under-14 team and Wolves Girls during an emotional presentation at Molineux.
As part of the young players’ studies into the horrors which occurred during the Second World War, Mala gave her first-hand recollections of surviving ghettos, being hidden as a child, as well as her terrifying experiences at the Ravensbruck and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps.
Born in 1930 in Piotrkow, Poland, Mala was just nine-years-old when the Nazis invaded her country, causing her and her family to flee eastwards. As the war raged on, Mala lost her family members one by one as they were murdered by the Nazi regime, leaving her to care for her five-year-old cousin Ann at the age of 12.
After being held as a slave labourer in both Ravensbruck and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps, Mala contracted typhus due to the appalling conditions, and at the time of the liberation by the British Army, Mala was extremely ill and had to be transferred to a hospital where she spent many weeks until she recovered.
“My younger years were spent being so frightened,” Mala said. “I went through some of the most terrible experiences that no child should ever have to go through.
“I missed out on my school, I missed out my youth and it’s just a miracle that I survived like I did. I can’t say that I was brave, or I was strong, or I was clever – I don’t think I was any of these things, I was just very lucky. Luck played a great role in my survival.”
In March 1947, Mala came to England as she was reunited with her brother Ben – her only family member who also survived the Holocaust – where she learnt English and gained a degree in Sociology from the University of London.
Today, Mala spreads her testimony to groups as part of a partnership between Holocaust Educational Trust and the Premier League which sees Holocaust survivors speaking to clubs and academies across the country, to encourage young people to fight for a better world, free of prejudice.
“I’m hoping young people would learn something from it,” Mala added. “They’ll see what prejudice and discrimination leads to. It starts off slowly and then gains momentum. We’ve seen how the Holocaust ended up and so many millions of people died for nothing.”
Ahead of Armistice Day, Wolves Academy’s under-14s studied the monstrosities which occurred during the Second World War and the effects the Holocaust had on Poland and Jewish people.
Jenson Sumnall, under-14s captain, explained: “It was horrific that kids younger than 12 had to be moved from their homes, going from place to place in order to stay alive. Being put through such horror and seeing people dying in front of them due to lack of food, water and even murder must have been terrifying.
“Young people need to respect that we are lucky to live in the world we do and treat people if a different race or religion equally. There’s no right or wrong race, no right or wrong hair colour, or no right or wrong eye colour. Whether you’re Muslim, Christian, Jewish – we should all be treated the same.”