A YOUNG writer from North Berwick has claimed a national accolade with the story of her great, great uncle who was killed while a prisoner in the notorious Nazi death camp Auschwitz.

Anna Trombala, 12, who has just finished her final year at Loretto Junior School, Musselburgh, received a bronze prize in the first ever Anne Frank Creative Writing Awards, which received more than 900 entries.

The competition asked for a short story or poem referencing Anne Frank and prejudice in society.

Anna already knew about the story of Anne, a Jewish girl who went into hiding during the Second World War to escape persecution from the Nazis.

Anna’s grandparents, from Stirling, had recently visited the family – dad Stephen, mum Angela, Anna’s identical twin sister Imogen and 14-year-old brother Andrew – at their North Berwick home.

Her grandfather Andrew Trombala had brought the front part of a wooden box – addressed to Anna’s great, great uncle Boleslaw Trombala, known as Bolec – with him.

Anna was fascinated by the story behind the box, which formed the basis for her short story (see below).

Bolec, the youngest of six siblings, was a law graduate of Warsaw University.

He was about to start his career when he was captured by the Nazis and sent to Auschwitz – a fate that thousands of graduates faced, as they were perceived to be a threat to the Nazi high command.

As a fit 26-year-old, he was sent to work in the fields.

Bolec and a friend were picking turnips grown to feed the pigs and decided to steal a turnip each to take back to feed their starving camp mates.

Sadly they were caught and, for this minor misdemeanour, they were both shot dead.

Bolec’s older brother, Anna’s great grandfather Stanislaw Trombala, was very fond of his younger brother.

He knew Bolec had been imprisoned at Auschwitz and, at that time, Stanislaw was overseeing a steelworks in Turkey – a neutral country during the war.

Stanislaw often sent Bolec parcels containing food and other necessities and it is the wooden front of one of these parcels that the family still have.

Sadly, Bolec died before this last box reached him and it was returned to a heartbroken Stanislaw, who kept it until he died.

Anna said: “I was really pleased and surprised to be awarded a certificate in the competition, and even more pleased to share some of my family’s story with others.

“It is important for me that

this story is written down, so that it will not be forgotten.”

Her proud dad added: “I’m delighted for Anna that she received such great recognition for her writing. Her interest in our family’s compelling story has rekindled my own and we are hoping to travel to Krakow next year to see if we can learn some more.”

The Anne Frank Creative Writing Awards, launched this May by the The Anne Frank Trust UK, invited young people across the country to take Anne Frank as their inspiration and create a piece of writing that called for a world free from prejudice.

As her prize, Anna will receive book tokens, a copy of the graphic novel version of Anne Frank’s diary and a signed copy of the book The Promise by Anne Frank’s step sister, Eva Schloss.

Anna's prize-winning story

My GREAT, great uncle was killed in Auschwitz for stealing a turnip from a field. He was shot dead. His last words were: “I do not deserve to die for a turnip. All of us in the camp are starving.” He, like Anne Frank, was Jewish and was a victim of prejudice.

Seventy-five years from then, some prejudice still remains. Although improvements have been made, we are yet to conquer the world with equality and peace.

The Black Lives Matter movement has gone on despite a global lockdown; does this not show how much people crave change? The little and the loud voices are constantly speaking; it’s our job to listen, and then, in our turn, follow suit.

Anne Frank wrote her diary throughout hiding. We have been blessed compared to her. We can call one another, text, video call and learn as a community over social media. I think this shows that although we have a virus pandemic, Anne Frank had a war. And we don’t have to obscure ourselves because there is no war, there is a moderate amount of serenity. The only war we are fighting is the one outside our windows, that has been brought to the streets; we are not fighting against other humans, no, we are fighting against discrimination. BLM!

My great, great aunt taught a young Jewish woman the Lord’s Prayer when she was called to be questioned by the Gestapo police, to find out if she was a Jew. And potentially put her in a camp. But since the young woman knew the prayer she was not captured. And my great, great aunt probably saved her life. My great grandpa saved 10,000 Polish soldiers from being killed by the Nazis by taking them all to Marseille and training them amongst the Allies, and my other great, great uncle translated the Nuremberg Trials.

And I am only a child. But that does not mean I can’t do great things. Lockdown has taught me countless lessons.

For instance, I understand now how important friendship is, or how much we take for granted or even how much I miss the 6.30 alarm clock that signals the beginning of a school day.

Lockdown has been an adventure: not your typical climbing Mt Everest adventure – I’m thinking a diverse adventure. Albeit we can’t travel the world, we can travel ourselves, and find something really worthwhile. We can find family, an opinion, a way to tackle endless technology issues and, as I said before, an understanding of diversity.

What Anne Frank went through was terrible, and we’ve learned never to let something like that happen again; compared to her, we are truly lucky. Even with all the things going on now, we cannot be too grateful that we are not experiencing what she did.