The Holocaust

Sounds of survivors go online

By Simon Rocker, January 29, 2009

The British Library has put its complete collection of oral testimonies of Shoah survivors online.

Over 440 hours of interviews with 66 people recorded by the library’s sound archive can now be publicly accessed.

Jewish Survivors of the Holocaust covers refugees who escaped Nazi Germany pre-war, and those who survived in hiding or endured the camps.

Rob Perks, curator of oral history at the archive, said: “These oral testimonies personalise the enormity of the Holocaust in a very direct and human way, emphasising the variety and complexity of individual experience.

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MPs urge that Shoah lessons should not be forgotten

January 29, 2009

Irish President Mary McAleese told the country’s national Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony that “the wickedness and cruelty of the Holocaust lacerate our hearts to this day, as they should. God forbid that any generation will ever know the indulgence of forgetting or ever cease to probe how it all came to be”.

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Coventry sends a message in fight against intolerance

By Marcus Dysch, January 29, 2009

An emotional service in Coventry on Sunday attended by over 100 Shoah survivors served as the national commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day.

Reflecting the government’s commitment to HMD, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith was among the audience of 800 at the Belgrade Theatre and Communities Secretary Hazel Blears was one of the speakers, pledging to combat extremism in her Salford community and beyond.

“I will give my all to stop the Far Right,” she declared. “I will work hard to ensure Britain is a place where all are safe.

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Muslim is 'changed forever' by her visit to Auschwitz

By Bernard Josephs, January 29, 2009

A Muslim student received an ovation from MPs and Holocaust educators after delivering an impassioned plea for a united front against racial prejudice and hatred.

Addressing an HMD event at the House of Commons, Ifraah Samatar said that 60 years after the Holocaust, “we still live in a society where hatred and discrimination exist.

“We are all neighbours on this planet, be we Jewish, Muslim, Christian or whatever. We have to realise that when people look back 60 years they will ask themselves: ‘How could this have happened?’ Yet racism and genocide still happen today.”

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Blue Peter’s Joel Defries’ HMD journey

By Jay Grenby, January 29, 2009

A desire to fulfil his late grandfather’s dearest wish took Blue Peter presenter Joel Defries on an emotional journey for the programme broadcast for HMD on Tuesday.

Mr Defries’ ancestors came to the UK from Holland, Poland and Lithuania — the earliest in the 18th century. He was born in London, but spent some of his early years in New Zealand, joining grandparents who had emigrated there. His grandfather had always hoped that Mr Defries, a non-practising Jew, would get to know more about his Jewish background.

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A nation remembers and educates

January 29, 2009

Northwood’s four-day HMD programme — the largest of its type in the UK — launched on Monday with the first group from the anticipated 2,000 secondary school pupils and teachers from Harrow, Hillingdon and Hertsmere.

Organised jointly by the Northwood United and Liberal shuls, the scheme is in its eighth year. Many civic leaders were at the opening, where survivor Ziggy Shipper preached against hatred.

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Police are out in force for HMD events

By Jay Grenby and Hannah Leader, January 29, 2009

Communities Secretary Hazel Blears told a gathering of senior policemen and community leaders at Western Marble Arch Synagogue of her delight at the wide range of age and backgrounds of those involved in HMD activities.

Organised in conjunction with the Association of Police Authorities, the get-together was the latest arranged by the APA to raise awareness of diversity. Around 90 senior officers took part in a day-long seminar, followed by dinner and a programme of prayer, poetry and song to mark HMD.

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Shoah story reaches 90,000

By Cathy Forman, January 29, 2009

Belsen survivor Rudi Oppenheimer told London Mayor Boris Johnson and other civic leaders at the HMD ceremony at City Hall: “Soon there will be no one left to tell the story.”

Mr Oppenheimer estimated that he had related his experiences to 90,000 young people in 950 sessions at schools. “I am the witness,” he said.

The mayor declared that as no words of his could be as powerful as those of a survior, he had chosen to read If, a “shocking and frightening poem” by playwright Edward Bond which pondered the outcome “if Auschwitz had been in Hampshire”.

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Brown meets survivors

January 22, 2009

Gordon Brown welcomed Holocaust survivors Ben Helfgott and his sister Mala Tribich to 10 Downing Street on Wednesday when he signed a book of commitment, pledging to remember the Holocaust and to fight all forms of discrimination.

The book was placed in the House of Commons by the Holocaust Educational Trust in advance of Holocaust Memorial Day and has been signed by over 100 MPs.

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Survivors denounce hoax Holocaust book

December 31, 2008

Holocaust survivors have expressed outrage over a book by a former Buchenwald inmate about love and life in the camp which turned out to be more fiction than fact.

One survivor, Ben Helfgott, who spent years in camps with the author, Herman Rosenblat, said the book, Angel At The Fence, provided ammunition to Holocaust deniers.

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