by Blake Herzog
Esther Basch is a Holocaust survivor who speaks at every opportunity about the horror she endured and how she still carries the love and forgiveness she learned from her father, who was a rabbi, and her mother in her heart today.
“Every time I speak, I feel a great weight lifted off my shoulders,” she says.
She’s also raising money to complete the documentary film The Honey Girl so her — and their — message can spread even farther.
The last time Basch saw her parents was on her 16th birthday in May 1944 as they arrived by train at Auschwitz from their home in what is now Ukraine. Each was forced to walk in a different direction.
She was emaciated when liberated from a labor camp in Germany in April 1945. Honey Girl was the name given to Basch by soldiers after the camp was liberated and survivors were let into areas that had been reserved for the Nazis and told they could have anything they wanted. She gorged on a jar of honey.
She and her late husband Joe, who she met and married shortly afterward in a camp for survivors, had four children and eventually settled in Phoenix.
Four years ago she came to Prescott to live with her daughter Rachel Turet, and almost everybody else here calls her “Mom.”
Basch, who turns 95 on May 28, travels across the city, state and country to share her story. Everywhere, people listen, including at a Reno, Nevada juvenile detention center she recently visited. She says:
“The teacher says to me, ‘Mrs. Basch, I don’t know how these youngsters will behave, but if they misbehave, we’ll take them out.’ And I said, ‘I’m a tough cookie so I’m not worried about it.’ And all those youngsters listened to me in awe. And when I finished they came to me thanking me and hugging me. And the teacher says, they never heard a thank you from these youngsters until I showed up.’”
She and Joe recorded video testimonies in 1996 for the USC Shoah Foundation, founded by Steven Spielberg. Now, she’s the focus of a film co-executive produced by her daughter.
A volunteer crew has finished
filming The Honey Girl, but needs about $40,000 for post-production costs before it can show. Visit
www.honeygirlfilms.org to watch a trailer and find a link for donations.
Find more ways to donate at The Honey Girl Documentary Facebook page.
Donate via GoFundMe at gofund.me/6dad6c4b.