Mobile Site You Are Here >  >  > Ben Helfgott

Ben Helfgott

Full name: Benjamin "Ben" Helfgott
Gender: Male
Height: 5-4.5 (165 cm)
Weight: 148 lbs (67 kg)
Born: November 22, 1929 in Pabianice, Łódzkie, Poland
Country: GBR Great Britain
Sport: Weightlifting

Biography

Ben Helfgott grew up in the town of Piotrków Trybunalski in Poland and was nine years old at the time of the German invasion. In October 1939 he and his family were herded into what was to become the first Nazi created ghetto in occupied Poland. In 1942, at the age of twelve, he registered for work at the local glass factory as he was led to believe that those who worked for the German war effort would not be chosen for transportation to the death camps. A man called Janota was in charge of his work unit and would continually treat Helfgott in a brutal manner. By coincidence Janota would regularly borrow a horse and cart from a friend of Ben’s father. When Janota next visited to borrow the horse Ben’s father was present and asked Janota why he treated Ben so badly. Afterwards the horse owner refused Janota permission to borrow his horse but changed his mind when Ben’s father spoke on Janota’s behalf.

A few weeks later the transportations to the Triblinka extermination camp began, 22,000 out of 24,500 Jews in Piotrków were sent to their deaths. On the final day on transportations the trains were not filled to capacity and the SS marched into the glass factory and rounded up anybody they suspected was Jewish. Ben was stopped but insisted that he was a Pole and not a Jew. The SS continued to question him but at that moment Janota came over and lied to the SS that Helfgott was indeed Polish. Helfgott spent the three remaining years of the war being moved from one labour camp to another. Although weak and skeletal in appearance he survived and was liberated from the Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1945. His family were not so fortunate, his mother and eight year old sister were victims of a mass execution in the forests near Piotrków and his father was killed attempting to escape from a "death march" a few weeks before the end of the war.

Together with 700 other orphans he was sent to England and soon discovered a talent for weightlifting. He became British champion in 1954 in the featherweight division and was later three times national lightweight champion. Helfgott also won a bronze medal in 1958 British Empire Games (750 pounds, represented England) and was three times a champion at the Maccabiah Games in Israel. On both his Olympic appearances he was captain of the British weightlifting team.

A clothing manufacturer by profession he has been a prominent member of the Jewish community in Britain. He helped to form a charity, the 45 Aid Society for Holocaust Survivors in the UK, served on the Board of Deputies of British Jews and was a member of the Council of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. He was elected to the Jewish Sport Hall of Fame in 1995. A biography of Helfgott, entitled Ben Helfgott: From Victim to Champion was published in 2000.

Results

Games Age City Sport Event Team NOC Rank Medal
1956 Summer 27 Melbourne Weightlifting Men's Lightweight Great Britain GBR 13
1960 Summer 30 Roma Weightlifting Men's Lightweight Great Britain GBR 18

Men's Lightweight

Games Age City Sport Team NOC Phase Unit Rank K S/F
1956 Summer 27 Melbourne Weightlifting Great Britain GBR Final Standings 13 340.0
1956 Summer 27 Melbourne Weightlifting Great Britain GBR Military Press 4 112.5
1956 Summer 27 Melbourne Weightlifting Great Britain GBR Military Press Lift #1 AC 105.0 o
1956 Summer 27 Melbourne Weightlifting Great Britain GBR Military Press Lift #2 AC 110.0 o
1956 Summer 27 Melbourne Weightlifting Great Britain GBR Military Press Lift #3 AC 112.5 o
1956 Summer 27 Melbourne Weightlifting Great Britain GBR Snatch 11T 100.0
1956 Summer 27 Melbourne Weightlifting Great Britain GBR Snatch Lift #1 AC 95.0 o
1956 Summer 27 Melbourne Weightlifting Great Britain GBR Snatch Lift #2 AC 100.0 o
1956 Summer 27 Melbourne Weightlifting Great Britain GBR Snatch Lift #3 AC 105.0 x
1956 Summer 27 Melbourne Weightlifting Great Britain GBR Clean & Jerk 15T 127.5
1956 Summer 27 Melbourne Weightlifting Great Britain GBR Clean & Jerk Lift #1 AC 127.5 o
1956 Summer 27 Melbourne Weightlifting Great Britain GBR Clean & Jerk Lift #2 AC 132.5 x
1956 Summer 27 Melbourne Weightlifting Great Britain GBR Clean & Jerk Lift #3 AC 132.5 x
1960 Summer 30 Roma Weightlifting Great Britain GBR Final Standings 18 337.5
1960 Summer 30 Roma Weightlifting Great Britain GBR Military Press 11T 110.0
1960 Summer 30 Roma Weightlifting Great Britain GBR Military Press Lift #1 AC 110.0 o
1960 Summer 30 Roma Weightlifting Great Britain GBR Military Press Lift #2 AC 115.0 x
1960 Summer 30 Roma Weightlifting Great Britain GBR Military Press Lift #3 AC 115.0 x
1960 Summer 30 Roma Weightlifting Great Britain GBR Snatch 19 100.0
1960 Summer 30 Roma Weightlifting Great Britain GBR Snatch Lift #1 AC 100.0 x
1960 Summer 30 Roma Weightlifting Great Britain GBR Snatch Lift #2 AC 100.0 o
1960 Summer 30 Roma Weightlifting Great Britain GBR Snatch Lift #3 AC 102.5 x
1960 Summer 30 Roma Weightlifting Great Britain GBR Clean & Jerk 18T 127.5
1960 Summer 30 Roma Weightlifting Great Britain GBR Clean & Jerk Lift #1 AC 127.5 o
1960 Summer 30 Roma Weightlifting Great Britain GBR Clean & Jerk Lift #2 AC 132.5 x
1960 Summer 30 Roma Weightlifting Great Britain GBR Clean & Jerk Lift #3 AC 132.5 x
id: 55,733