history

Holocaust Memorial Week

A week of remembrance

Since 2007 the University of Essex has marked Holocaust Memorial Day with a series of events taking place around the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp by Soviet troops.

The week provides a focus for remembering the millions of people killed in the Holocaust, Nazi persecution and in subsequent genocides in countries such as Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. It is also an opportunity for us to look at human rights issues, explore discrimination that still exists today, and lessons still to be learned by the Holocaust.

This year, Holocaust Memorial week was held between Friday 25 January - Friday 1 February 2019.


The history of Holocaust Memorial Week

Each year during Holocaust Memorial Week, a number of events take place, each reflecting a different theme. These events include talks, lectures, exhibitions, film screenings and more.

The theme for our very first Holocaust Memorial Week in 2009 was 'STAND UP TO HATRED', and was chosen by the National Holocaust Memorial Day Trust. This theme was chosen in order to highlight the extreme consequences of hatred, and help us to look at our behaviour toward others and explore how each of us can help make our communities stronger and safer.

Over the years, other themes have included; disability and euthanasia, issues including prejudice, intolerance, discrimination and stigmatization, the experiences of the Roma and Sinti, the persecution of gay men under the Nazi regime, and the struggle for the human rights and dignity of LGBT people since 1945.

 

Professor Rainer Schulze
"The awareness that work for greater tolerance, for human dignity and human rights starts on our doorsteps, in our schools and in our local communities."
Professor Rainer Schulze Department of history

Holocaust Memorial Week 2019

A Thousand Kisses – stories of the Kindertransport

This new travelling exhibition tells the story of the Kindertransports through the experiences of eight children and the loved ones they left behind, whose documents, letters and memoirs are amongst those held in the Wiener Library Collections. It is a story of persecution, migration, of refugees who were made welcome and those who were turned away.

Between December 1938 and May 1940, almost 10,000 unaccompanied mostly Jewish children were brought to Britain from Nazi Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland in what became known as the Kindertransports.

Exhibition by kind permission of The Harwich Haven Surrender and Sanctuary Project and the Wiener Library.

Service led by Colchester and District Jewish Community

This services was based on the Friday evening synagogue service. There were readings and reflections, in the spirit of peace and friendship.

Holocaust Memorial Day

The Colchester Holocaust Memorial Day Group organised an afternoon of events, supported by the Colchester Trades Union Council, that took place at firstsite.

Events included a talk from Professor Rainer Schulze about the story of Dora Love. Rainer Schulze from the University of Essex is the founding editor of the journal ‘The Holocaust in History and Memory’ and initiated Holocaust Memorial Week at the University of Essex.

Events also included talks from Paula Kitching and Marian de Vooght. Paula talked about integration to invisibility and is a freelance historian, education consultant and writer. She is a regular contributor of the publication ‘The Historian’ and sits on its editorial committee. Marian is a Visiting Fellow at the University of Essex and is currently editing The Holocaust Poetry Anthology.

The afternoon also showcased ‘Resistance’ – a short film by Liz Crow. Elise is a patient who sweeps an institution set up by the Nazis for people with disabilities. She does not speak and staff assume she does not understand. Based on real events and the experience of disable people in Nazi Germany, this is the story of one woman’s resistance.

 

The Reading of Names

The Reading of Names of victims of the Holocaust and other genocides represents a significant act of remembrance that is best expressed by David Berger, a victim of the Holocaust who was killed at the age of 19 in Vilnius, Lithuania in 1941. David said: "If something happens, I would want there to be somebody who would remember that someone named D. Berger had once lived. This will make things easier for me in the difficult moments."

The Reading of Names is informal, if solemn, and each name we read aloud represents the many whose names we also do not know. We encouraged volunteers to read names aloud for around five minutes during the hour.

Film screening and discussion of 'Denial'

Denial is a 2016 British-American biographical drama film directed by Mick Jackson and written by David Hare, based on Deborah Lipstadt's book ‘History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier’. It dramatises the Irving v Penguin Books Ltd case, in which Lipstadt – a Holocaust scholar – was sued for libel by Holocaust denier David Irving. It stars Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Spall, Andrew Scott, Jack Lowden, Caren Pistorius and Alex Jennings.

The screening was followed by a discussion with Professor Maurice Sunkin QC (Hon) from the School of Law and Emeritus Professor Rainer Schulze from the Department of History who looked at the legal issues, denial and ‘fake news’ followed by a Q&A session.

Words with... Jonathan Lichtenstein

Hans Lichtenstein arrived in Britain in 1939, an unaccompanied child refugee who escaped Nazi Germany on the Kindertransport. Since then, he has revealed little else about his childhood. Do its secrets offer an explanation for this gentle man’s frequent erratic behaviour; his violent eruptions of anger and thirst for extreme danger? Can his son escape from a parental mould that has driven him unwittingly towards his own journey of isolation and recklessness?

Jonathan Lichtenstein read extracts from his book The Berlin Shadow – a memoir spanning three timeframes: the author’s childhood, his father’s childhood, and the contemporary journey that unites them as they set out together for Berlin in a quest to confront the event that has dominated both of their lives.

Don Kipper

For this special Holocaust Memorial Week performance, multi award-winning quartet Don Kipper took us on a journey into the world of Eastern European Jewish and Roma music making, from hectic hongas and frantic freylekhs, to tranquil Dobridens and soulful Doinas. Over the course of the evening they talked about the lives of great Klezmer musicians (the Klezmorim) of the past and help bring to life this most durable of traditions.

"So tight it sounds like one divine entity is playing the band” (BBC Radio 3).

The Dora Love Prize

Dora Love, who died in 2011, was a Holocaust survivor who spent much of her life raising awareness that the attitudes which made the Holocaust possible – intolerance, discrimination and outright hatred of those who are regarded as ‘different’ for whatever reason – are still alive and around us. This prize continues her work and is awarded each year for the best project that links learning about the Holocaust with the world we live in today.

This was the 7th year of the Dora Love Prize, and 14 schools submitted projects introduced by Professor Rainer Schulze, who set up the Prize. Also present was Holocaust survivor Frank Bright. The Dora Love Prize is open to Year 7-10 students at schools in Essex and Suffolk.

Kindertransport Street Theatre

Pupils from Millfields Primary School in Wivenhoe worked with Actor, Ben Livingstone and Lakeside Artistic Director, Barbara Peirson prior to Holocaust Memorial Week to learn about the Kinderstransport through improvisation, tableaux and testimonies.

To prepare for their performance on campus, pupils listened to klezmer music, singing and writing imaginary letters home from their chosen characters who had to flee Nazi Germany for their new lives in England. All of these activities came together in a piece of Street Theatre they have devised that was performed in the squares.

Lessons from the Kindertransport: providing havens from genocide and atrocities

Professor Rainer Schulze gave an opening statement about the important role Britain played, through the Kindertransport, in the rescue of Jews from Nazi Germany after the Reich's Pogrom Night (9 Nov 1938), contrasting it with the UK government dragging its feet in the Syrian refugee crisis. He commented on what lessons we should bring from the past to inform us of how to deal with the present.

This was followed with an open discussion touching questions of borders and migration, such as whether Britain has an obligation towards people who are escaping crises, the degree to which Britain’s borders should be opened, the difficulty of integration, the role of cultural differences in militating, and whether the situations described above of the Kindertransport and the Refugee Crisis are at all comparable.

Further reading

African Rights, Rwanda: Death, Despair and Defiance, (London, 1994).

Allen, W. S. ‘The Appeal of Fascism and the Problem of National Disintegration’, in Henry A. Turner Jr. (ed.), Reappraisals of Fascism (New York, 1972).

Aly, G. ‘Final Solution’: Nazi Population Policy and the Murder of the European Jews (London: 1999).

Bankier, D. The Germans and the Final Solution: Public Opinion under Nazism (Cambridge, Mass, 1992).

Bársony, J. and Daróczi, Á. (eds.) Pharrajimos: the fate of the Roma during the Holocaust, (New York, 2008).

Cohen, J. One-hundred days of silence: America and the Rwanda genocide (Lanham, 2007).

Cooper, J. Raphael Lemkin and the struggle for the Genocide Convention, (Basingstoke, 2008).

Hagan, J. and Rymond-Richmond, W. Darfur and the crime of genocide, (Cambridge, 2009).

Hauner, M. ‘Did Hitler want a World Domination?’, Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 13 (1978), pp. 15-32.

Hilberg, R. The Destruction of the European Jews, (New York, 1985).

Johnson, E. The Nazi Terror. The Gestapo, Jews, and Ordinary Germans (London, 2000).

Kahn, R. A. Holocaust denial and the law: a comparative study, (New York, 2004).

Kiernan, B. (ed) Genocide and democracy in Cambodia : the Khmer Rouge, the United Nations, and the international community, (Connecticut, 1993).

Kuperman, A. The limits of humanitarian intervention: genocide in Rwanda (Washington, D.C., 2001).

Littell, F. H. [et al.] (eds.) The Holocaust : remembering for the future, (California, 1996).

Mann, M. The Dark Side of Democracy: Explaining Ethnic Cleansing, (Cambridge University Press, 2005).

Mayer, A. Why Did The Heavens Not Darken, (London, 1990). Payaslian, S. United States policy toward the Armenian question and the Armenian genocide, (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005).

Prunier, G. The Rwanda crisis : history of a genocide, (London, 1988).

Quigley, J. B. The Genocide Convention: an international law analysis, (Aldershot, 2006).

Roth, C. H. The fate of Holocaust memories : transmission and family dialogues (New York, 2008).

Roth, J. K. Genocide and human rights: a philosophical guide, (New York, 2005).

Sarkin, J. 'The tension between justice and reconciliation in Rwanda: politics, human rights, due process and the role of the Gacaca courts in dealing with genocide', Journal of African law, Vol. 45, No. 2, (2001) pp. 143-172.

Schabas, W. A. Genocide in international law: the crime of crimes, (Cambridge, 2009).

Schabas, W. A. Preventing genocide and mass killing: the challenge for the United Nations, (London, 2006).

Schilling D. (ed.) Lessons and Legacies III: The Meaning of the Holocaust in a Changing World, (Evanston, 1994).

Totten, S and Parsons, W. S. Century of genocide : critical essays and eyewitness accounts, (New York, 2009).

Totten, S. and Markusen, E. (eds.) Genocide in Darfur: investigating the atrocities in the Sudan, (New York, 2006).

Valentino, B. A. Final solutions: mass killing and genocide in the twentieth century, (Ithaca, N.Y., 2004).

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