Following on from Holocaust Memorial Day, Hannah Swindells, Regional Ambassador for Wales, tells us about her experiences in arranging for Eva Clarke to talk to students at the University of Cardiff.
In my role as Regional Ambassador in Wales for the Holocaust Educational Trust, I arranged for Holocaust survivor Eva Clarke to share her testimony with the Cardiff community. My journey in planning and organising this began in May 2013. Personally, the journey was about much more than event planning. I spent most of the summer months worrying that I wouldn’t fill the 160 seat lecture theatre I had booked out. My journey out of pessimism to optimism began during my fundraiser for the talk; selling cup cakes! After a 9 hour bake the night before (and having vowed to never touch a cup cake again) I was overjoyed to find during the sale that students and academics alike where not only buying the cupcakes, but were really interested in the event and wanted to know more about the work of the Holocaust Educational Trust. There was such a buzz around campus that within a day of the reservation tickets going live, we were at capacity and had to book the largest lecture theatre within the university.
Between 350-400 members of the community attended Eva’s talk on 11th November 2013. In a calm and powerful voice, Eva told us of her family’s pre-war Jewish life, how her mother and father had met, and of the horrifying circumstances in which her mother endured and gave birth, at 5 stone, to a 3 pound baby girl, in Mauthausen concentration camp, just days before it was liberated. I felt truly humbled to hear Eva speak. I looked at the faces of the audience and could see that every single person was mesmerised. One student came up to me a few days later and said that it was only lecture style talk in which they hadn’t lost concentration or felt bored. He said afterwards he went home and watched Eva’s documentary on Youtube and was going to find out more about the Holocaust. My Journey has led me to keep faith that my friends and colleagues do want to know learn about and remember the Holocaust. We have an audience, so let’s tell them. That’s what I will be thinking about around Holocaust Memorial Day.