Members of Maldon’s Rotary Club joined some 350 staff and students at Plume Academy to hear the story of Leslie Kleinman, one of the few remaining survivors of Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camps.

His story, illustrated with graphic photographs and delivered for nearly two hours without reference to notes, was received in total silence by the audience who engaged in a lively discussion at the end. 

Now in his 90th year, Mr Kleinman acts on behalf of the Holocaust Trust, visiting schools both in this country and Germany, and the museum at Auschwitz.

His message is one of reconciliation and love,” we are all humans“, and he still retains his faith thanking God each day.

After enduring the horrors of Auschwitz ,Leslie was sent on the six week Death March in freezing conditions with no food in 1945 towards the end of the war.

He was rescued by a fellow Jewish American GI and went on to settle in Britain.

He will receive the British Empire Medal from the Queen on his 90th birthday in May, an event that he looks forward to with enormous pride.

Rotary members were fortunate to spend a further hour with Leslie over lunch where he revealed that the only topic of conversation in the camps was food and that there were no friends outside family.

His own family of eight brothers and sisters together with both parents were annihilated, and he now considers his audiences to be his extended family.

His message to the students was to live a clean life shunning drugs and smoking and to be aware of anti-Semitism in all its forms.

All present were humbled by this amazing example of love and humanity.