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Holocaust survivor Moshe Galili of Palmers Green spoke about his memories of World War II and his inspiration behind his art work
A Palmers Green man has drawn inspiration from surviving the holocaust to create art for a new exhibition in Enfield.
Moshe Galili, 83, of St George’s Road, Palmers Green, is originally from Budapest in Hungary and used his teenage memories of surviving the holocaust to tell his story.
Mr Galili was 14 years old when he and his family were taken from their home to 'star' houses where only Jewish people lived.
He described the moments that led to he and his family avoiding being taken to Auschwitz Nazi German concentration camp in occupied Poland, where more than a million people were killed.
He said: “One day, the fascist police were coming around to take all the people in the houses away to Auschwitz. We were terrified but we managed to find a key to the concierge’s apartment and hid ourselves away amongst all the Jewish valuables he had stolen from us.
“The police were coming round, the door was locked and the concierge didn’t want them to go in there because they would know he was stealing everything. He let them in but they could not see us amongst all the stolen good, we were very lucky.
“Once they had gone we managed to escape out of the house, my heart was beating so fast and the adrenaline was racing through me. The concierge shouted at us and told us to stop but if the police had realised there were Jews in his apartment he would’ve been shot too.”
However, the family were still left in a perilous position. Moshe’s father had been injured prior to their escape whilst on military service and when he left the family to find a doctor, it was the last time he saw his father.
He added: “We went to see a priest who blackmailed us and said that if we converted then we would be able to survive.
“He gave us a piece of paper to say we were good Christians but this didn’t work as a soldier ripped up our piece of paper the day after and said we weren’t Christians at all.
“We had a friend on the other side of Budapest and we went to her home. The woman who owns the home was very scared for her own children. But my mum was persuasive and very determined. The woman gave us a piece of paper with her details on it and that was who my mum became.
“We had the names of her family and created a story that we were fugitives from Russia. That is how it stayed until we were liberated at the end by the Russians.”
In the late 1960s, Mr Galili moved to England with his Parisian wife Ruby and studied ceramic art. He admitted he felt there was an air of ‘anti-Semitism’ in London and this also inspired him to create his work.
He said: “When I came to England from Paris I realised that there was a lot of anti-Semitic abuse towards Jews. I went to Stamford Hill and saw a Jewish person being chased down by a couple of skinheads.
“The historian David Irving, who doesn’t believe in the Holocaust, also inspired me to create my art about to show people the horrors that me and my family as well as other Jews had gone through.”
When asked which of his paintings stood out, Mr Galili said his first piece, which recalled the start of the Germany takeover.
He said: “The Nazi police thought we were shooting at them from our home. They accused us of having a gun and told us we were lying. They looked around our house and said 'we didn’t find anything but we will come back and have a proper look'.
“My mother said 'something isn’t right' and had a look around. We found a gun under the carpet which they had hidden.
“So she took it to the Hungarian and German soldiers. She showed them that they had hidden the gun in their home. That was brave.
“A higher officer told them to show your guns and one of them had an empty holder so he was told to collect his gun.”
His exhibition can currently be seen at the Dugdale Centre in London Road, Enfield Town, and is on show until February 17.