Tomi Reichental is an 83-year-old survivor of the Holocaust. He was born in Czechoslovakia in 1935 to Jewish farmers and lived with his family on their farm until the age of eight. His family went into hiding, but were caught by the Gestapo and deported to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1944, where he would stay for a year until the camp’s liberation in April 1945 by British forces.
He moved to Ireland in 1959 to work at a zipper-production factory. He then ran a jewellery store until his retirement.
For 60 years, he refused to talk about his experiences, until he was invited by his son to appear before a group of schoolchildren. Since then, he has made it his mission to tell people his story – he now visits schools around Europe on a weekly basis to teach schoolchildren about the Holocaust.
When asked why he does it, he replied: “because I owe it to the victims.”
Tomi has already appeared in three documentaries, the last of which, “Condemned to Remember”, is currently being aired by RTÉ. Hoping to show that the Holocaust wasn’t a blip in world history but rather a common occurrence, he tells the story of many victims of other genocides, particularly Bosnia.
Tomi has received many accolades for his efforts. He has received the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, the highest decoration awarded by the German government. Additionally, he also won RTÉ’s Person of the Year Award in 2014.
His talk will be called “I was a boy in Bergen-Belsen”.