Speaker on the Holocaust
Zahava Kohn (Kanarek) was born in Palestine and grew up in Amsterdam in the 1930’s. As part of a Jewish family living in Nazi Europe, these were turbulent times: she and her family were captured and sent to Westerbork transit camp in Holland and then later to Bergen-Belsen. They were released in 1945 and, following a period of intensive rehabilitation in Switzerland, settled back in Amsterdam.
In 1958, Zahava moved to London. She married Dr Ralph Kohn (now Sir Ralph Kohn)–a pharmacologist–in March 1963 and they have lived in London ever since. They have three daughters and five grandchildren.
In 2001, Zahava discovered her late mother’s archive of documents and memories–precariously collected during the war–which had been hidden away in a small suitcase at the back of her mother’s cupboard. Armed with this mountain of memories, Zahava wove together the story of her family’s wartime experiences in the book, ‘Fragments of a Lost Childhood’ (published in 2009). Since its publication, Zahava–together with her daughter Hephzibah–has visited schools across the UK and in Germany to talk to young people of all backgrounds about ‘Surviving the Holocaust’. She also regularly contributes to education sessions at London’s Jewish Museum and the Holocaust Centre in Nottingham, and her story has been featured online by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust. The response has been overwhelmingly positive.
In April 2015 Zahava was a guest on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.
In October 2015 Zahava was awarded the ‘Freedom of the City of London’ for her work in Holocaust education
Zahava has been actively involved in a wide range of charitable work over the years, supporting the arts and music as well as scientific, educational and humanitarian causes.
Note to Schools:
Lady Zahava Kohn gives talks together with her daughter Hephzibah, whose biography is viewable here:
President & Deputy Chair, John Lewis Partnership Council & Deputy Chairman, National Equality Standard
Chief Executive of Ofcom
Former CEO of Urdd Gobaith Cymru
Author and Journalist with The Sunday Times
Assembly Member and Cabinet Secretary for Education, Welsh Government