Born Helen Chmura in Pabjanice, near Lodz, Poland on 24 April 1927. In May 1942 all the Jews from Pabjanice were evacuated to the notorious Lodz ghetto. Helen is one of only 750 Jews who miraculously survived the ghetto, from a total of 250,000 who entered it.
Soon after entering Lodz, Helen’s father was tragically gassed at Chelmno concentration camp, together with all of Pabjanice’s children, whom he had volunteered to accompany. Helen, her mother and her brother all managed to survive the ghetto, as slave workers.
"It’s a miracle that I am alive. At the end we hid in an underground bunker. It was twelve below zero and we had no food."
In 1946, Helen began her new life in London. She married George Aronson, also Polish, and has two daughters. She has lived and worked mostly in London, except for a few years in the 1950s, when her husband worked in Nigeria. Helen spends much of her time talking to schoolchildren about her war experiences. She is active in the Association of Jewish Refugees and Age Exchange, which recently produced a play and a film of her life, acted by children.
"I hope that my survival, and teaching children from different backgrounds and nationalities about the horrors of World War II, will remind them that we all must be tolerant, and seek out tyrants whose aim is to kill, for no reason at all."