To mark Holocaust Memorial Day, it was an immense privilege to welcome back Eva Clarke and Wendy Holden to St Albans Cathedral. 

Wendy is a best-selling author and was a journalist for eighteen years, including a decade at the Daily Telegraph where she worked as a foreign and war correspondent. She has written more than thirty books and her next book, a novel set in Auschwitz, will be released early next year. We were deeply honoured that Eva Clarke, who is herself a Holocaust survivor, joined us to share her story. It is one of courage, defiance and hope.

Eva is one of three babies to be born during the Holocaust at Mauthausen concentration camp. Each baby had weighed only three pounds, their fathers had been killed and their mothers were, as Wendy writes, “living moment to moment in the same concentration camp”. Incredibly, all three women and their babies survived, despite the challenges that they faced.

As Wendy delved deeper into the stories of two of the young mothers, Priska and Rachel, and Eva shared the story of her mother, Anka, reading excerpts from Born Survivors, they brought to life a moment in history that captured how fragile freedom can be. In revealing the narratives of these three young mothers, Priska, Rachel and Anka, during a time of atrocity and adversity, there was a hope to commemorate those who were killed during the Holocaust, to counteract prejudice and to learn more about the past and act to create a safer future. 

Poignantly, the evening continued in our reflection on the theme of Peace, as Wendy noted afterwards that “it was surprisingly emotional to talk about war under the beautiful Peace Doves,” the art-installation designed by Sculptor Peter Walker. After the talk, Eva and Wendy concluded the evening by signing special commemorative editions of Born Survivors, which retains the very profound and powerful story of three babies and their mothers who survived out of chance and perseverance.