A Holocaust survivor, photographed by Kate Middleton, tells how the pan he holds in the photo saved his life

A Holocaust survivor who recently sat for a milestone portrait with his two granddaughters was touched by how keen the photographer Kate Middleton was to calm him and his granddaughters.

<p class = "canvas atom canvas text Mb (1.0em) Mb (0) – sm Mt (0.8em) – sm" type = "text" content = "The royal mother" was hospitable and interested in our history and my grandchildren, ”says Steven Frank, 84, who was invited to the photo shoot at Kensington Palace by Kate To put the spotlight on Frank’s remarkable story and 75th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust, Before the notorious concentration camp was liberated in 1945, six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis. Auschwitz-Birkenau.“data-reactid =” 12 “> The Royal Mother” was hospitable and interested in our story and my grandchildren, “says Steven Frank, 84, who was invited to Kate’s photo shoot at Kensington Palace to highlight Frank’s remarkable story and memory 75th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust: Before the liberation of the most notorious Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in 1945, six million Jews were murdered by the National Socialists.

Frank, who was just five years old when the Nazis invaded the Netherlands, was a young eyewitness to the terrible persecution and mass murder of Jews by the Nazis. His father Leonard was a lawyer who spoke out against the Nazis and joined the resistance.

“When it became clear that the Germans would invade Holland, we had plenty of opportunities to flee to England, but my father was a very humanitarian man and was very committed to people who weren’t as good as us,” says Frank towards PEOPLE.

Leonard was betrayed and arrested by the Nazis in December 1942. Steven and his two brothers Nick and Carel never saw him again. He was murdered in the gas chambers on January 21, 1943.

Steven and his mother Beatrix and his brothers were sent to the Westerbork transit camp and then to Theresienstadt, a hybrid “camp ghetto” in the Czech Republic. Steven and his brothers are three of only 93 children who survived the camp, out of 15,000 children who were sent there.

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Kate, who photographed Frank alongside his granddaughters Maggie (15) and Trixie (13), “is pretty talented. She had a tripod with a Canon camera. She transferred it to a screen on a monitor and looked at the monitor at the same time to see if everything was OK. She took a lot of photos. “The Duchess also photographed another survivor, Yvonne Bernstein, and her granddaughter Chloe.

“There were minor changes in position, and my older granddaughter’s hair was a little in the way so it was moved aside. All of the tiny details she discovered make a good photo.”

Kate modeled the shoot based on a painting by Johannes Vermeer – who was like the Dutch Franconian. “It’s just beautiful,” he says of the portrait. “It captures the light that would have come through a window.”

Frank and his two granddaughters were each asked to bring something moving for the shoot. Maggie let her grandparents give her a teddy bear named Abby, while Trixie carried a hockey stick, knowing that Kate was an avid gamer. (“She talked to them about it,” he says.)

Steven Frank brought a pan and a tomato from his garden. The tomato marked the plants that he helped another inmate to grow and harvest food in the family’s last camp in Theresienstadt. “The pan basically kept us alive, especially because my mother is so versatile in getting food here and everywhere,” he says.

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The resourceful woman, who died in 2001 at the age of 90, got a job in the camp’s hospital laundry. In return for washing for other prisoners, she received scraps of bread from which she made porridge for her children. “At some point she would put all of these crumbs in a pan, add some hot water and make a paste. She came to the children’s barracks where I was with my brothers and alternately fed us one spoon, one bite at a time. I never saw her eat a spoon myself. Food kept us going – the pan was the most important thing she took to the camp. “

<p class = "canvas-atom canvas-text Mb (1,0em) Mb (0) – sm Mt (0,8em) – sm" type = "text" content = "RELATED: Liberation from Auschwitz 75 Years Later: Survivors Reveal How They Cheated Death“data-reactid =” 30 “>RELATED: Liberation from Auschwitz 75 Years Later: Survivors Reveal How They Cheated Death

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He praises his late mother that he and his brothers survived despite all the difficulties: “With their maternal instinct and wings over their three children, we have done remarkably little damage.”

He says his mother has “incredible character strength”. When his father Leonard was arrested for working for other Jews, “she found out who the cleaners were and went to this prison disguised as a guy. Guy is here and washes the floor – and she spoke to my father briefly.”

In the first camp in Westerbork, where they were arrested in March 1943, Frank remembers British fighter jets shooting bullets at the camp because they thought it was a military camp.

“I had just entered the barrack when the attack started, and I ran through a hail of bullets to our table, where we gathered to eat and talk among the approximately ten residents who became our social group,” says he. “I experienced my first death there – a man we had learned to love and with whom his wife remembered my mother in English [who was born in Eastbourne, England]I was deeply shocked to see that this wonderful man, who loved England so much, was killed and the blood of British bullets gushed out of his body. “

Women in the barracks in Auschwitz, Poland, in January 1945. | Gallery imagery / Getty

Women in the barracks in Auschwitz, Poland, in January 1945. | Gallery imagery / Getty

Later he and his brothers in Theresienstadt (which he calls Theresienstadt) experienced the horror of witnessing the selection of young people who were to be transported to Auschwitz.

“They separated siblings, one to go to certain death and one to go into an uncertain future,” he says. “It is everything these children had left. Each other.

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“Parents gone; other siblings disappeared. And I saw the howling and screaming when these siblings were torn apart. I still hear requests: “Please, let me go with her.” “Let me stay with him.” The guards replied, “No, you out!” They pointed the malicious finger at the door. “

<p class = "canvas-atom canvas-text Mb (1,0em) Mb (0) – sm Mt (0,8em) – sm" type = "text" content = "RELATED: Prince Charles delivers a powerful speech at the Holocaust Memorial in Israel: “All Mankind Must Learn”“data-reactid =” 49 “>RELATED: Prince Charles delivers a powerful speech at the Holocaust Memorial in Israel: “All Mankind Must Learn”

<p class = "Canvas Atom Canvas Text Mb (1.0em) Mb (0) – sm Mt (0.8em) – sm" type = "text" content = "Today Steven Frank gives lectures in schools and helps He praises Kate and her husband Prince William, who attended a memorial service organized by the London police Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, Steven Frank lectures in schools today and helps keep history alive. He commends Kate and her husband, Prince William, who attended a mass commemoration ceremony in London, organized by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, to capture the history of the Holocaust in the minds of younger generations.

“Both she and Prince William were very interested in the Holocaust and Remembrance Day. William was in the press with Holocaust survivors and his father is the patron of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust. There is a particular interest in informing people about what is happening, getting their testimonies and passing them on to other generations. “

He appreciates how members of the royal family can reach other communities across the UK and beyond. “The modern more. It started with Princess Diana walking through the minefields. “

“They are really interested in what we do, the Holocaust Memorial Trust, and what we want to do for the younger generation.”

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