Judge Rinder reveals family’s harrowing history

Grandfather endured indescribable suffering

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Judge Rinder has spoken about the trauma his family experienced as victims of the Holocaust.

The Strictly Come Dancing star’s Polish Jewish grandfather Moishe Malenicky escaped the death camps but lost his parents and siblings there, something which he hardly ever spoke of during his life.

Speaking to the Daily Mirror, Judge Rinder said: “My grandfather did not speak of it often but there were dark shadows, poisonous drips of stories, that were always in my psyche.”

Judge Rinder

He explained that even many years later Moishe would hide food around his house and said: “It was a relationship with food that was pathological – you need to eat, eat. There was this sense of insecurity.”

TV personality Judge Rinder was speaking alongside his grandfather’s friend Ben Helfgott to promote the 45 Aid Society, set up by survivors to remember those who died in the Holocaust and share their stories, and which Judge Rinder’s mum, Angela Cohen, is now chairwoman of.

Sharing some of Moishe’s stories, the Strictly contestant said: “A drunk German soldier came up to him on Yom Kippur – the Jewish Day of Atonement – and demanded, ‘What do you Jews sing on Yom Kippur?’ And he whipped my grandfather until he sang.

Judge Rinder

“There was another story about being selected for work in a munitions fac­­tory. He tried to move into a queue which looked like easier work but a guard attacked him.

“He ended up doing the most backbreaking job of all but later found the so-called easier work involved putting poisonous chemicals into tank shells. Men doing that lived only about two months.”

He added: “It is incredibly painful hearing those stories. It is difficult to ever think about your loved one having suffered.”

Ben Helfgott

In 1942 Moishe’s parents and his siblings Nathan, Frumka, Surela and Miriam were sent to Treblinka extermination camp, where they were killed in the gas chambers.

Moishe and Ben were reunited at Schlieben labour camp in Germany and Ben, now 85, recalled being offered rotten potato soup when he arrived at the camp, but turned it down saying: “It smelt of excrement.”

Then he saw a starved man running over to eat the soup and realised it was Moishe.

Ben Helfgott

He said: “I still have the image in my mind. It had only been half a year, yet he was so emaciated. He just said, ‘We are hungry all the time here’. I could only think, ‘How long will he last?’ Soon we were all the same.”

Moishe arrived in Windermere after the war and Judge Rinder said: “Windermere was his paradise. The locals may never have met a Jew before, but they were so welcoming. He loved this country. He loved life.”

He added: “Although he went through indescribable trauma you never thought of him as a victim.”

Judge Rinder shared his last memory of his grandfather: “Just before he died in 2001 I was called to the Bar. He was bedridden so I went in to him in my wig and gown. And he opened his eyes and smiled.”

To read more about the 45 Aid Society, go to

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