SUNDERLAND will remember the victims of genocides worldwide in the lead up to Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January and beyond.
The international theme for 2019 commemorations is ‘Torn from Home’ with a number of commemorative events organised by Sunderland Libraries Services between Wednesday 23 January and Saturday 23 March.
The programme of events includes talks and presentations to schools and community groups from Education Co-Ordinator for Newcastle Reform Synagogue, Ruth Heyman, whose family experienced the Jewish Holocaust.
Mrs Heyman said: “Both my mother and my husband’s parents came to the UK as refugees from Nazi Germany. They were fortunate in being able to live and work in the relative safety of wartime Britain, something for which they were always grateful.
“My mother hoped that knowledge of the suffering of her family and that of the other Jews of Europe would lead to better, more tolerant world, but this has not proved to be the case.
“Unfortunately since the end of the Second World War instances of genocide have repeatedly occurred in different parts of the world, including in Europe itself.”
She added: “As my mother’s generation passes on, I feel that it is important to remind present and future generations of the way in which the fear and hatred of a minority group can take root even in an economically advanced country. By telling the story of one family, I hope to make it easier for young people to identify personally with the suffering of the members of a minority group and so work towards a more peaceful and tolerant world.”
The exhibition ‘Children Under the Nazis’ curated by Dr Beate Muller of Newcastle University in collaboration with the South African Holocaust and Genocide Foundation, will be on display in three public libraries.
First shown publicly in South Africa in June 2017, both in the Johannesburg Holocaust & Genocide Centre and in the Cape Town Holocaust Centre, the exhibition focuses on the lives of different children during Nazi rule, including Jewish children, disabled children, Sinti and Roma, but also German Hitler Youth.
Dr Beate Muller said: “Memories of war children persecuted by the Nazis have become popular in recent years, but normally, these are memories of older people looking back across many decades to their youth.
“ What’s special about this exhibition, by contrast, is that it focuses on war children’s experiences and their recollections from the early post-war period.”
The exhibition is on loan from Newcastle University and will be display for public access in three Sunderland libraries on the following dates:
City Library @ the Museum and Winter Gardens; 11 – 21 February
Houghton Library; 25 February – 7 March
Washington Town Centre Library; 11 – 21 March
For a preview of the exhibition and background information please visit http://teaching.ncl.ac.uk/childrenunderthenazis/
In addition Dr Beate Muller will also be working with the ‘HumanKind’ charity at Houghton Library on 4 March, with a series of interactive workshops with local schools based on the Holocaust exhibition.
The national charity works to ‘challenge racial hatred and create harmonious lives and safer communities for young and vulnerable people’ at events around the country
Sunderland City Council Cabinet Member for Communities and Culture, Councillor John Kelly said: “It’s so important that we remember the Holocaust, and teach future generations through history about what can happen when tyranny, racism and intolerance go unchecked by ordinary people.
“I’d ask everyone in Sunderland to help us commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day, and hope the series of events we have organised in our libraries will help raise awareness and understanding of this year’s ‘Torn from Home’ theme.
“There is also the chance to learn more about Anne Frank at the exhibition being hosted in The Bridges (25/26 January), and to show your respect and take part in collective commemoration of all those who lost their lives in the Holocaust and other genocides across the world at Sunderland Minster (28 Monday 6.30-8pm).”
Both events are being organised by Sunderland’s Interfaith Forum. Spokesman Tony Wortman added: “The Forum decided to hosts these events in light of the decline of the Jewish population, and to help keep alive the memory of the six million people who lost their lives in the Holocaust.
“The theme this year ‘Torn from Home’ and our guest speaker at the Sunderland Minster will be Mrs Gabriel Keenaghan, who will share her memories as a child on the last ‘Kindertrain’ to leave Berlin seeing her parents for the very last time.”