Cirla’s Story

My Childhood in the Holocaust Years

My Childhood in the Holocaust Years

Cirla Lewis lived through the Holocaust years of the Second World War in Belgium, where she was hidden by Catholics. Her recollections of those years are as an innocent Jewish child, incapable of appreciating the enormity of the tragedy unfolding around her.

Seen through her eyes, the events described took on a dreamlike quality which made them all the more disturbing. Her family’s attempted escape to England ended in failure when they reluctantly returned to Belgium where their previously happy life dramatically unravelled.

Her father was ordered to “work for the Reich”. Her grandparents were taken away by the Gestapo and their home boarded up. Cirla, her mother and aunts were forced to go into hiding and spent the remainder of the war living in secret with others seeking to avoid detection by the Nazis.

Sheltered by courageous people, who put their own lives at risk to help others in need, the fear of discovery was always present. We can appreciate their joy at being liberated when the war ended. However, they vividly remember the truth that Cirla’s beloved father and grandparents were among those deported to Auschwitz, where they were killed.

Cirla Lewis works as a Holocaust Educator at the Imperial War Museum, in London.

Her book can be purchased from Woodfield Publishing Ltd

She can be contacted at: Cirla Lewis.


10 Responses to “Cirla’s Story”

  1. I met Cirla at the museum on a recent school trip, she didn’t tell us her name until the end of the session and read a part of her book before too. She answered our questions and was really nice, I recommend the book as well as the person!!!!

    • Cirla Lewis Says:

      Thank you for your very kind comments. I didn’t look at my blog until today – my son in France sent me an e-mail to alert me!
      All good wishes from Cirla.

  2. Molly and Paige Says:

    We saw you at the Imperial War museam yesterday and your story really touched us. Meeting and hearing your experiences first hand really made it real for us. Thankyou, Love Molly Braithwaite and Paige Woolnough xxx

  3. Cirla Lewis Says:

    Dear Molly and Paige,

    I was delighted to receive your e-mail. Sorry I didn’ t reply earlier.
    My son who lives in France alerted me.
    How sweet of you to take the trouble to e-mail me.
    I send you both my good wishes and hope you will have a happy life.
    Warmest regards to you both.

  4. I met you in the museum a week ago in a school trip . You were really a nice and happy person 🙂 Thank you for telling me more about the holocaust .

    • Cirla Lewis Says:

      Hello there,

      Delighted to read your comments and hope you found your visit to the Holocaust Exhibition enlightening.
      With warmest good wishes,

  5. Rebecca Luck Says:

    hello Cirla you gave a briphing to combeton students today. and would love to thank you my friends and i have purchesed your book and can not wait to read it. thank you.

  6. Cirla Lewis Says:

    Dear Rebecca,

    What a lovely surprise to hear from you so soon! I am delighted you have bought a copy of my book and expect you will recognise the passage from the text which I read out to you and your students – a most charming group of young people.

    I send you and your students my warmest regards.


  7. Hello, you recently attended my daughter’s school (Prendergast vale) and she was so engaged with your story she asked us to buy the book and recommended we invite you into the school in which I work. Our students in the Special Educational Needs department (Progress) are currently working on a WW2 project and planning to visit the Imperial War Museum in June. Would it be possible to get a contact number for you and make some enquiries?

    Kind regards,

    Ruth Bell

  8. Cirla lewis Says:

    Dear Ruth Bell,
    Forgive me for not replying sooner to the very charming entry you made back in April, for which many thanks.
    I went to Israel with my husband, son, partner and our grandchildren, and this is the reason why you haven’t heard from me. The whole family swam in the Dead Sea where one floats like a cork due to the high salt content (nine times the average salinity of the ocean). We visited the famous places, Jerusalem, Masada
    (a Mountain fortress in the Judaean Desert).
    I’ll be back at the Imperial War Museum in September and would be delighted to see your Special Needs Students then. You would have to ask the booking people to select a day when I’m in.
    All good wishes,
    Cirla Lewis

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