Two sisters at Belong’s Morris Feinmann care village in Didsbury have been recognised in this year’s New Year’s Honours list for their services to Holocaust Education.
Gisela Feldman, 96, and Sonja Sternberg, were among more than 900 Jews who fled Nazi persecution in Germany during the Second World War on what became known as the Voyage of the Damned.
Having set sail to Cuba in 1939, the SS St Louis, was refused entry into Havana and the US before being forced back to Europe, where Belgium, France, Holland and the UK agreed to take a quarter of the passengers each.
After five weeks at sea, Gisela and Sonja were granted entry in England where they settled in Manchester. Tragically, 255 of their fellow passengers were later killed by the Nazis.
The sisters have since dedicated their lives to educating people across the world about the plight of refuges and those who died in the Holocaust who included their father and over 30 of their relatives.
Gisela said: “It is a great surprise and a great honour to be awarded the British Empire Medal. We are the last generation of eyewitnesses – people cannot deny what we experienced. It is said that bad things only happen if good people do nothing, and this is what drives us to educate others to do better.”
Sonja said: “It is very important that the next generation learn about what happened to us, as it is still happening today and not just to Jewish people.”
The sisters moved into their apartment at their care village, which was named after First World War refugee, Morris Feinmann, when it opened in 2017.
Not for profit operator, Belong, works closely with the Feinmann Trust to ensure specialist provision for the Jewish community.
Picture shows Gisela (far left front) and Sonja (far right front) on the SS St Louis.