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Pretty porcelain eyes that reflect a legacy of terror.

Byline: Joe Thomas

A DELICATE porcelain doll, belonging to a victim of the Holocaust, has emerged on Merseyside. The doll, called Gretchin, was picked up by a British nurse who helped liberate Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, in 1945.

After undergoing repairs, Gretchin serves as a poignant reminder of the horrors of World War Two.

Beneath the pretty face of the Eastern European doll lies a story of fear and terror experienced by thousands.

Gretchin was too precious for Sue Hedges to play with as a little girl.

But, when she was clearing out her aunt's home after her death three years ago, Sue re-discovered the doll she wanted so badly as a child.

Now she is old enough to understand Gretchin's history, she realises the doll is far more than just a pretty face.

Sue, who lives in Southport, said: "I cry when I look at it. What the little girl (who owned Gretchin) must have gone through.

"I wonder if she is still alive or what happened to her. It would have been horrible in there.

"I keep it wrapped up. I don't use it, it's been in a cupboard for the last two or three years since my aunt died. The whole thing is very emotional really."

The woman who found the doll was Sue's aunt, Major Margaret Susanne Jump, who was in the Queen's Alexandra Nurses, 81 British Field Regiment, during World War Two.

Major Jump, who also worked in both Southport and Ormskirk hospitals, kept a diary of her experiences as she crossed Europe in 1944/45.

In an extract, Major Jump briefly describes her first thoughts of Belsen, the camp where Anne Frank died: "Belsen's less sordid side, as it's well known, the terrible No1 Camp generally known as the Horror Camp was destroyed by fire, but even then a strange, eerie atmosphere pervades the place." When she took Gretchin for repair, Sue burst into tears as soon as she revealed the doll's past to Jeannie Pritchard, who was tasked with restoring the doll.

Sue said: "I suppose it overcame me, the significance that it was found in Belsen."

Jeannie, of Pritchard's Dolls' Hospital, at Burscough Wharf, has worked on dolls from all over the world, but finds it hard not to get emotional when she sees Gretchin.

She said: "When I was working on it I felt very humbled and just thought of the girl who must have played with the doll - it must have been very frightening when she was in there."


Left: The horror of Bergen-Belsen camp was revealed when British troops liberated it in 1945 Jeannie Pritchard, of Pritchard's Dolls' Hospital, working on Holocaust survivor Gretchin; and, inset, Gretchin up close
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 15, 2011
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