New research reveals three previously unknown Irish Holocaust victims

Ireland-born Isaac Shishi, Ephraim and Lena Saks returned to Europe during childhood

There are four Irish victims of the Holocaust, according to new research unveiled in Dublin on Sunday at the at the annual Holocaust Memorial Day Service.

It was previously believed there was only one Jewish person from Ireland murdered in the Holocaust – Esther Steinberg.

Dr David Jackson, a consultant statistician, presented the research at the annual service at the Mansion House.

Dr Jackson revealed Isaac Shishi, Ephraim Saks and his sister Lena Saks, were all born in Ireland but their families returned to Europe when they were children.


All of these Irish-born citizens, together with members of their families, were murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust.

"Online records now available from a wide variety of sources including the Holocaust Centre in Jerusalem have allowed me to piece together these lost and forgotten stories," Dr Jackson said.

“I believe there may be more and I will continue to research.”


The National Holocaust Memorial Day Commemoration is organised by Holocaust Education Trust Ireland (HETI) to commemorate the six million Jewish people who were killed by the Nazis.

President Michael D Higgins, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan, Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy and Holocaust survivors Tomi Reichental, Suzi Diamond and Walter Sekules were among those in attendance.

President Higgins said as anti-Semitism and racism once again begin to rise across Europe, “we must remember the Holocaust collectively and work together to ensure that hatred and inhumanity is not allowed to once again spread its dark shadow across Europe and the world”.

He said we are witnessing “a growing rise of various forms of a false, corrupted and distorted nationalism on virtually every continent”.

“Countries across Europe have seen a rise in electoral support for political parties and individuals declaiming an extreme, exclusionary message,” Mr Higgins said.

“Refugees, immigrant communities and other minority groups are increasingly viewed as a threat to the rights of the majority and many achievements by those who have fought tirelessly for human rights are under threat by a new generation of extremists who view those universal rights as a threat to their own individual rights. The poison of anti-Semitism is not absent from their rhetoric.”

‘Living skeletons’

Candles were lit to symbolise the six million Jewish people killed and students from Stratford College Dublin, Coláiste Chill Mhantáin, Co Wicklow, Kishogue Community College Lucan and Dominican College, Go Galway read out the names of some of the victims.

Eibhlin Byrne, chairperson of Holocaust Education Trust Ireland said "at times of great certainty, there is always a danger that extremists will triumph".

“It can emerge amongst any nations at any stage. Our vigilance and resolve to fight hatred and fear whenever it emerges will ensure that the Holocaust cannot, will not, and must not be repeated,” she said.

Holocaust survivor Tomi Reichental recalled how he was captured by the Nazis aged nine along with his mother, brother, grandmother, aunt and cousin and brought to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

“What I witnessed as a nine-year-old boy is impossible to describe. The starvation, the cruelty of the camp guards, the cold and disease,” he said.

“People, who were just skin and bone and looked like living skeletons, were walking around very slowly, some of them dropping to the ground, never to get up again.”

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times