Holocaust survivor remembered at moving Bray Lake ceremony

A group of swimmers at Bray Lake took part in a ceremony to remember a Holocaust survivor at the end of last month.

The event was organised by Jane Drapkin, from Windsor, who initiated and organised the inaugural Hana Greenfield Memorial Swim in the Czech Republic town of Kolin in 2018.

The now annual event in the Elbe river was where Hana used to swim before she, along with her Jewish family and friends, was deported to concentration camps during the Second World War.

Swimmers in the Elbe river in 1923. Photo taken by Jan Kubrt in 1923 and provided by the Kolin Town Library.

Hana, who died in 2014, was one of just a handful of people from Kolin to survive the atrocities.

Jane, 53, who belongs to the Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue, found out about Hana through the synagogue’s affinity with Kolin.

This year 180 people had signed up to be part of the memorial swim, including Jane, who is one of many visitors who could not be there because of ‘COVID-related uncertainty and travel restrictions’.

“Since I couldn’t travel to the Czech Republic, I brought the Hana Greenfield Memorial Swim to my regular swim location at home,” she said.

The swim was attended by 18 Bray Lake regulars and took place on Saturday, August 29, the same day as the event in the Elbe river – called the Labe in Czech.

The ceremony beforehand saw the group hold a memorial circle in the water during which time they held ‘a minute’s silence to commemorate the Jews of Kolin and other victims of persecution’.

They also took time ‘to celebrate having both the freedom to swim, and a clean safe environment in which to do so’.

Jane said: “Although I had been disappointed not to be able to travel to the Czech Republic this year, as it turned out, this was an opportunity to share the story of Hana Greenfield and the Jews of Kolin to a new audience.

“It was a very moving experience, and several of the swimmers that took part said how much they appreciated taking a moment to think about how lucky we are.”

Watch a video of the ceremony, courtesy of Marcus van Heerden, which includes a voiceover from Jane, here.

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