Game of Thrones star Laura Pradelska has paid tribute to the “resilience, strength and courage” of her grandparents, who all survived the Holocaust, ahead of this year’s Yom Hashoah commemoration.
The actress, who starred as Quaithe in the hit HBO series, has been invited to address the audience at the Allianz stadium on Sunday, as part of this year’s theme, Women’s Resistance.
Speaking to Jewish News this week, the German-born actress revealed how her father’s mother, Klara Stern, was married just before the war and gave birth to her first child while living in a labour camp in Nowy Sacz, Poland.
One day, after returning from a forced-labour factory, Klara discovered both her parents and her seven-month-old son had been murdered by the Nazis. She was later separated from her husband and deported to Auschwitz, before being forced onto a death march.
When the war ended, Klara found only eight of more than 120 family members had survived the war. She later remarried a fellow Holocaust survivor, Henry Pradelski.
Her maternal grandmother, Esther Schultz, also survived the Holocaust, having managed to secure forged Aryan papers because of her “beautiful blond, blue-eyed looks and the ability to speak Polish without a Yiddish accent”.
She was able to smuggle food into the ghetto for her family and later, at much personal risk, saved the lives of her sister and her two young nieces. While Naomi was placed in a convent, Eva was raised by a childless Christian woman.
“After the war, my grandmother went back and found everyone had been killed except those two little girls and her sister.”
Esther adopted the girls and later met her husband, Meir, who raised the girls as his own, alongside Pradelska’s mother, Minka.
“It was through my grandmother’s heroic and intuitive decisions that they survived,” said Pradelska, adding the need to keep these stories alive has become all the more urgent.
“I’m third generation and I’m concerned fourth and fifth generations won’t know, won’t remember and won’t meet survivors. These stories are what help shape us as Jews, this is who we are.
“Due to the survival of my grandparents and their resilience, strength and courage, I’m here today. It’s an important story for anyone to hear, especially in times of genocide, racism, and anti-Semitism, just how such things can happen.”