The Story of Lushka Kelly (née Klapholz) 1923- 2003
Seymour Kelly’s mother, Lushka Kelly née Klapholz, was born in the small village of Raycza in southern Poland in 1923. She was the middle one of five children and led an orthodox Jewish life, although her family was well integrated into Polish society.
Lushka recalls her experiences in a video interview made by the British Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies in 1992. She describes family life before the war and then how the Nazis occupied her village in 1939 and forced her family to move to a ghetto in nearby Sucha. She movingly describes the day that she and her sisters and brother were separated from her parents and youngest brother, who were sent to extermination camps.
The remainder of her wartime experience until May 1945 was as a slave labourer, with her two sisters, in various spinning and munitions factories. After the war she and her sisters returned to Poland, where she was reunited with her surviving brother. After the war she and her brother came to England with other orphaned children in a transport organised by Rabbi Schonfield and she made a life for herself in the UK.
Seymour’s presentation intersperses Lushka’s own testimony with personal memories of his mother. The video is combined with family photos and more general images of the Holocaust, setting the story against its historical background. Although Lushka’s story is traumatic and sad, it conveys a positive message of how the human spirit cannot be defeated and that there is hope even in the most difficult circumstances.
Presented by Seymour Kelly
Now retired and living in Teddington, Seymour’s working career was as an overseas director for the British Council and later in external relations at Kingston University. Seymour has a wide range of interests including music and visual arts, reading and travel. He is an active member of Kingston Liberal Synagogue.
Seymour is married and has two adult sons also living in London. Seymour rewatched his mother’s video at the British Library in 2017. Inspired by her humanity, resilience and humour, he was motivated to share it as a testimony against discrimination, nationalism and genocide.