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Auschwitz survivor who educated children during Holocaust Memorial Week dies, aged 90

A man who lived through five years at Auschwitz and turned his traumatic experience into a valuable series of talks for Kingston’s schoolchildren about the Holocaust has died.

Martin Bennett died aged 90 from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma on January 21. He was a Berrylands resident for more than 50 years and most recently lived in Raeburn Avenue. Born in Poland in 1925, he was forced into a labour camp in Poznan aged 13 after the German invasion of the country in 1939. From Poznan Mr Bennett, whose Polish surname is Izbicki, was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where one of his six brothers had already been incarcerated.

His brother told Mr Bennett to say he was older than he was, which meant he survived the selection. They saw out the war together and finally parted ways when his brother moved to Israel, and Mr Bennett travelled to live with relatives in London.

Mr Bennett leaves behind his wife Priscilla, who he met after arriving in Britain in November 1947. They were married for more than 60 years, with many of those years spent running a clothes shop in Cheam. From the happy marriage came two daughters, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He enjoyed golf, and could be found in his “office” on the greens at Coombe Hill Golf Club most days. His funeral was held at the club, where more than 100 members attended on January 24.

After Mr Bennett retired he regularly talked to groups about his experiences during the Holocaust, and became part of Holocaust Memorial Week. He visited schools to share his experiences, and ensure younger generations knew the horrors Europe had seen during the war.

Holocaust Memorial Day is today, with Holocaust Memorial Week running from January 25 to 29.

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