The Story of Tony Chuwen 1924-2004
The survival of Gloria Silver’s father, Tony Chuwen, is a story of bravery, resourcefulness, and good luck. Living by his wits, Tony’s path to ultimate freedom was an extraordinary and high-risk journey.
Tony grew up in Galicia, Poland in a secular Jewish family. His childhood years were spent in a small town in Poland’s Carpathian Mountains where his father was an architect. Childhood ended for Tony at age 14 with the outbreak of World War Two. The rest of his teenage years were spent in continual danger and on a personal quest simply to outlive Hitler.
His dramatic story includes his incarceration in two concentration camps and his escape by jumping off a moving train. On the run, he managed to obtain false identity papers and ‘hid’ in the most unlikely place, the German Army. He found a way to desert, with the aid of an Estonian smuggler, only to be interned in Finland. His final escape was by skiing alone for three days over the frozen sea to neutral Sweden.
The story is presented against the background of the Holocaust and World War Two in central Europe. His experiences are illustrated with clear maps and simple background information to allow the audience to understand and follow both what happened to him and the underlying historic events. It includes personal audio testimony from Tony himself, who was interviewed by the London Holocaust Survivor’s Centre in 1993. The full recordings are held in the British Library.
Despite the tragic subject matter, her presentation is given in a manner accessible to young people, without being too overwhelming or going into too much detail of some of the crueller aspects of this period of history. Despite everything, including the loss of almost all of Tony’s large family, ultimately it is a positive story of survival in almost impossible circumstances.
Presented by Gloria Silver
Gloria Silver grew up in Scotland and Israel. She is a retired pharmacist, who worked in both hospital and retail settings. For many years she was also a magistrate in Barnet. She is a keen gardener, and her many interests include travel, history, literature and the arts.
In retirement, she is active in charity work as well as being a dedicated mother and grandmother. She tells the story of her father, Tony Chuwen. Like many survivor’s children, she only got to know this story gradually, learning most details only when an adult.
Gloria feels it important to tell her father’s story, partly to remember the many murdered members of her family, but mainly to try and help counter the recent increase in antisemitism and Holocaust denial. She believes one person’s story can mean more than many statistics in conveying the reality of that dreadful time.