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Holocaust survivor set to share her tragic story

By Nicole Webber

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Kathleen Hagler
Kathleen Hagler

A HOLOCAUST survivor living in Inverness is set to share her family’s harrowing story with a city audience as part of a national memorial day.

Kathleen Hagler (75) has only recently begun talking about her family’s experiences during the Nazi occupation and how, as a baby, she survived the German invasion of her native Hungary.

She will now share her remarkable story with an audience at Inverness Town House to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.

"This is very difficult for me because I am talking about the death of my family and parents and I am already having sleepless nights about it," she said.

"It will take time after the talk for me to recover.

"Recently, I spoke with an ex-colleague of mine and said I was going to do this. He had no idea that it had happened and we had been friends for decades."

She added: "As difficult as it is to talk about, it has to be done because now I am one of the youngest survivors – the war happened so many years ago now."

Ms Hagler was sent to the Munkács Ghetto in Hungary close to the end of the Second World War, along with her mother, brother and sister.

Not long after, aged just a year and a half old, she was smuggled out and taken to live with her aunt and grandmother in Budapest.

Days later, however, the population of the ghetto, including the rest of her family, was sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp.

It is believed that all of them died there.

Ms Hagler moved to Israel at the age of 16 before coming to Scotland at around the age of 35.

This year’s Holocaust Memorial Day is on Saturday, but Ms Hagler’s talk will take place on Thursday evening in an event sponsored by the Inverness Interfaith Group.

The aim of Holocaust Memorial Day is to remember the millions of people murdered in the Holocaust, under Nazi persecution, as well as in many subsequent genocides including those in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

A spokeswoman for the Inverness Interfaith Group said: "We will honour the survivors of these regimes and challenge ourselves to use the lessons of their experiences to inform our lives today.

"We will join thousands of others who come together to remember the past, and consider the part they can play in challenging hatred and creating a safer, better future."

This year’s national theme for the memorial day is, fittingly, ‘The Power of Words’.

Marlene Finlayson, one of the organisers of the Inverness event, said: "We know only too well that words have more power than ever today, and reach a wider audience through social media.

"Spoken and written words from individuals, community organisations, religious leaders, and from our politicians, can have a huge impact for good or bad.

"The Inverness Interfaith Group hopes that this event will provide an opportunity to think about the impact of words, and create awareness of the need to be alert to any signs of discrimination or dehumanisation in our own region here in the Highlands."

The open event to which everyone is welcome begins at 7pm and is expected to run until around 9pm. Organisers hope it will become an inaugural local event to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.

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