New book reveals Wales’s role in rebuilding the post-war lives of three female Holocaust survivors

A new book by Swansea University researcher Professor Frances Rapport details the life stories of three female survivors of the Holocaust and how they came to live and settle in Wales post-war.

Fragments1Fragments: Transcribing the Holocaust, published by Hafan Books, was launched on the evening of Wednesday, October 16, at the Senedd, National Assembly for Wales, at an event hosted by Julie Morgan, Assembly Member for Cardiff North.

The book’s author, Cardiff-based Frances Rapport, is Professor of Qualitative Health Research at Swansea University’s Institute of Life Science, College of Medicine.

The 100-page paperback book is the culmination of seven years’ work and details the extraordinary life stories of three female survivors of the Holocaust – Anka Bergman, who passed away aged 96 in July 2013, Terry Farago, aged 86, and Edith Salter, who passed away aged 91 in 2011.

The three women were survivors of the Holocaust and were interned in concentration camps including Auschwitz-Birkenau. They lost the majority of their family members during the war and through different circumstances and twists of fate they all came to live in Cardiff, settled there, and made it their home.

Fragments2Professor Frances Rapport (pictured) said: “The book is a celebration of these extraordinary women’s lives and through literary experimentation and poetic transformation it reveals the women’s individual and unique stories of loss, grief and hope.” 

Julie Morgan, Assembly Member for Cardiff North, said: “It was a privilege to host this unique event which highlights the experience of these three remarkable women, who by twists of fate ended up living in Wales.”

The catalyst for the book was an experience Professor Rapport had in 2006 during a conversation in a restaurant with her mother about Anka Bergman. 

Anka BergmanA fellow diner, who had been listening in on their conversation about Anka’s life in the concentration camps strode over to them and angrily remonstrated about their conversation. “You have no right to talk like that in public.” “What do you know of the Holocaust?  You know nothing of the Holocaust. How could you?” He then proceeded to march out of the restaurant and goose-stepping up and down outside the window, throwing a Nazi salute, and saying “Heil Hitler, Heil Hitler”.

“I never intended to write a book on the Holocaust,” said Professor Rapport.

“But I couldn’t get this man’s actions out of my head.  It raised questions – whether we have the right to talk about things that we haven’t experienced, and should these things be expressed in public.

Terry Farago“Reflecting on what had happened later that day, I decided to take forward the man’s taunts and through my own research, lay down Anka’s testimony and perhaps the testimonies of others like her who had experienced camp life, to give these stories the continuity and permanency they deserved.”

The book carries a foreword by Professor Arthur W Frank, of the University of Calgary’s Department of Sociology, and an afterword by British Labour politician, lawyer and author Greville Janner, Lord Janner of Braunstone, QC.

Frances Rapport said: “Wales should celebrate that it supported these women and allowed them to start a new life post-war.

“For this work to have any lasting value, these ethnographic poetic representations must form part of a Holocaust archive that continues to bear witness to the events, despite repeated attempts at their disavowal.”

Edith SalterFragments: Transcribing the Holocaust, by Frances Rapport with Anka Bergman, Terry Farago and Edith Salter is priced £10.99 and published by Hafan Books. Visit http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0956947395, or http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00FZ61QXO for the Kindle ebook version, priced £3.87.

Visit Swansea University’s Flickr gallery for a selection of images relating to the book and the launch event here.