Helen Bamber OBE was a human rights icon and an extraordinary woman. For almost seventy years she dedicated her life to working with those who suffered the extremes of human cruelty. Her career began in 1945 when she joined the Jewish Relief Unit and found herself in Germany working with holocaust survivors at Bergen Belsen. No-one’s life remains untouched by such an experience and she became a passionate campaigner and advocate for those in distress, eventually establishing The Medical Foundation for Victims of Torture and then in 2005, The Helen Bamber Foundation. Helen understood the complexity of trauma and the human responses to it; her gift was compassion and she helped each individual she encountered find their own way of survival.
In 1998 her biography ‘The Good Listener’ was published and I went to hear her publicly read an excerpt from it. Afterwards I asked one of her aides if it was possible to have a moment to speak with her and that is how I met Helen Bamber. One of Helen’s colleagues at Bergen Belsen concentration camp had been my paternal grandfather, whom I had never met, but Helen met me with time, generosity and kindness for which I will always be grateful. I was later to become a therapist and this amazing woman inspires my trauma work.
Sadly Helen died on 21 August 2014 at the age of 89. Her life story is an inspiration, and a memorial fund has been established in her name. Do read her biography or take a look at the website: www.helenbamber.org, and if you feel touched by it at all perhaps you might consider a donation to support the valuable work being done there. Thanks.