Lottery funds heritage centre in Scotland


Marion Camrass and her family fled the Nazis after the invasion of Poland in 1939. Although they reached Russia, they were sent to Siberia as suspected enemy aliens, before moving on to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

Post-war, times were tough back in Poland, prompting Mrs Camrass's mother to send her to an aunt in Scotland. Unable to speak English, she initially found it difficult to settle but went on to study medicine, marry and have three children.

Thanks to a grant of nearly £350,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the stories of Mrs Camrass and other survivors and refugees who settled in Scotland will be preserved through a new Jewish Heritage Centre incorporating a Holocaust-era study facility.

The centre will be housed within Garnethill, Glasgow's oldest surviving synagogue.

Welcoming this week's development, Mrs Camrass, 84, said: "I'm really quite amazed. Over the years there has always been a focus on the Kindertransport. Nothing much was made about people who were transported to Siberia like we were.

"I was very lucky to survive the war. It wasn't easy to integrate into a community when you don't know the language. I became more involved when I got married.

"After living here for so many years I have very good friends."

The Lottery funding has been awarded to a partnership between the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre and Garnethill Synagogue Preservation Trust.

A further £100,000 has been pledged by the Association of Jewish Refugees.

Planned to launch in 2018, the centre will showcase historic collections and highlight the architectural history of the listed synagogue, which opened in 1879.

Deborah Haase - curator of the archives and leader of the working group for the centre's development - said the centre would "breathe new life" into the shul.

It will digitise documents, photos and newspapers and show how the Garnethill area was a hub for Jewish refugees in the wartime period. It will also offer a schools' visiting service, a walking tour, exhibitions and other activities.

Harvey Kaplan, the archives centre director, said it was important to progress the project "while survivors are still alive. They can see their history being preserved and used and they and their families can be actively part of it all.

"Scotland's record in welcoming Jewish refugees fleeing from Nazi Europe has much to teach us which is relevant to migration and anti-racism issues today."

Bernard Goodman, chair of the Garnethill Synagogue Preservation Trust, saw the project as "an important first step in realising a Scottish Jewish Heritage Centre by improving access to the synagogue site, creating new research spaces, developing interpretation and activities on Scottish Jewish heritage and building on the existing partnership between the trust and archives".

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