Holocaust Educational Trust Ambassador Blog

What an amazing Ambassador Conference 2023. It was incredible to see so many young people coming together to listen, to learn and to share - working to ensure the Holocaust will never be forgotten.

On Thursday 6th July, Ambassadors from all over the UK gathered in London for our annual Ambassador Conference (‘AmCon’). Always a highlight of the HET calendar, it is a chance for Ambassadors to catch up, share ideas, and hear from some fantastic guest speakers, and of course the incredible Holocaust survivors.

One of the activities that was set up for ambassadors and sixth form students at the 2023 Ambassador Conference was a pledge board for us to share some of our actions as part of the #10for10 campaign.

“Truth lies at the feet of liberty” – The first line of this incredible book, and a real testament to the story within it. Daniel Finkelstein’s mother, Mirjam Wiener was born in Berlin, Germany in 1933, the daughter of Alfred and Margarete Wiener.

Here are some events and courses that we think may be interesting to our Ambassadors over the next couple of months.

In 1945, Gena Turgel was liberated from Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Her autobiography, I Light A Candle, was published in 1987.

Yom HaShoah took place this year from the evening of 17th to the evening of the 18th April. ‘Shoah’ is the Hebrew word for ‘catastrophe’ and ‘utter destruction’ and is commonly used in Israel and by Jewish communities around the world to refer to the Holocaust. In this article, we explore the origins of the day and the ways it is commemorated.

Last week, four Regional Ambassadors and I took part on March of the Living, an incredibly moving event where Jewish people from all over the world join Holocaust survivors in marching from Auschwitz I to Auschwitz-Birkenau, in celebration of life.

“I am remembering one of the six million,” reads the slogan for the Yellow Candle project.

In April, five Regional Ambassadors flew to Poland to take part in March of the Living, an incredibly moving event where people from all over the world join Holocaust survivors in marching from Auschwitz I to Birkenau, in celebration of life. As part of the five day educational journey across Poland, the Regional Ambassadors visited a number of Holocaust sites including former concentration camps, the former Krakow and Warsaw ghettos, and mass graves, as well as synagogues and Jewish cemeteries that survived the war.

Here are some events and courses that we think may be interesting to our Ambassadors over the next couple of months.

With the theme of ‘Ordinary People’ for this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day, we focused on photos and videos of pre-war Jewish life and explored the themes that these present through the documentary film, 3 Minutes a lengthening.

Holocaust Memorial Day is held on 27th January every year, and commemorates the 6 million Jewish men, women, and children who were murdered during the Holocaust, those who were persecuted by the Nazis and those killed in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur.

For the February edition of the Ambassador Newsletter, we had the privilege of interviewing Holocaust survivor, Susie Barnett BEM.

On 27th January 1945, Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest and most notorious of the Nazi concentration and extermination camps, was liberated. Now, 78 years later, 27th January has been designated as Holocaust Memorial Day, a day dedicated to the millions of people persecuted and murdered during the Holocaust and subsequent genocides in Rwanda, Cambodia, Bosnia, and Darfur. The theme of Holocaust Memorial Day 2023 is “Ordinary People.”

The Choice by Dr Edith Eger is an incredible story of courage and emotional triumph. Edith was just sixteen years old when she arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau. She experienced the unimaginable, and was even made to dance for Josef Mengele (the notorious SS physician known as the ‘Angel of Death’). But so much of Edith’s story is about what happened after the Holocaust, and how she was able to rebuild her life. She writes about her healing journey after her time in Auschwitz and invites readers to reflect on themselves, to understand their experiences, and ultimately, become better human beings.

Here are some events and courses that we think may be interesting to our Ambassadors over the next couple of months.

Regional Ambassadors Emily and Evie share their thoughts on why Schindler’s List remains one of the best films for shedding light on experiences of ghettos during the Holocaust.

During Nazi occupation, cultural activities were established in ghettos across Europe, such as at the Vilna Ghetto, Lithuania.

In this article a few of our Ambassadors share their experiences of hearing from survivors about their experiences of living in ghettos across Europe.

Ambassadors Mihika and Soraya share their research into ghettos established in Poland during the Holocaust.

Our interview team speak to Steven Frank BEM about his experiences during the Holocaust, particularly focusing on his time in Terezín. Steven was born in 1935 in Amsterdam, the middle child of three brothers. When war broke out, the family decided to remain in the Netherlands due to his father’s legal work.

Here are some events and courses that we think may be interesting to our Ambassadors over the next couple of months.

This year’s annual Ambassador Conference saw a series of fascinating insights for the keen readers in our Ambassador community. Both David Baddiel and Jonathan Freedland brought fresh and interesting ideas to conversations about their respective books, Jews Don’t Count and The Escape Artist. Ambassadors in attendance were excited to receive a copy of both books to continue to develop our understanding!

On 14th July, for the first time in three years, the Ambassador Community came together in London for the Ambassador Conference 2022.

On Thursday 14th July at AmCon in London, Ambassadors and young people came together from all around the UK to commit to safeguarding the future of Holocaust education and to #PassItOn.

Our theme of #PassItOn is inspired by the Ambassador Conference 2022, where many Ambassadors, including the creative team, were able to meet in-person for the first time. This quarter, we’ve been inspired by contemporary art and the impact that post-Holocaust works can have in representing how individuals felt during the Holocaust and their methods of coping with trauma afterwards.

The Holocaust is remembered in many different ways by people all around the world. This article highlights some important dates and different forms of remembrance to help inform and inspire you with your own projects.

Here are some events and online exhibitions that we think may be interesting to our Ambassadors over the next couple of months.

March of the Living is a five-day educational journey, which takes place in Poland, where students, and adults join educators and Holocaust survivors to learn about one thousand years of Jewish life in Poland, and the devastation and horrors of the Holocaust. On the final day of the visit, participants join thousands of people from around the world on a march from Auschwitz I to Birkenau to mark Yom HaShoah – the annual Jewish remembrance day for victims of the Holocaust.

Annick Lever BEM was born in 1943 in Nazi-occupied France to a Jewish mother and non-Jewish father. A few months later, Annick and members of her extended family, with the exception of her father, were incarcerated awaiting deportation. Annick and her infant cousin were smuggled out of prison by her father, a member of the Resistance. The rest of her family perished at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

In a forest just northeast of Warsaw, there is a path lined with rows of concrete blocks. These blocks mark the positions of the old railway track that once led to the former Nazi extermination camp Treblinka.Treblinka was one of three such camps (the others being Belzec and Sobibor) built by the Nazis as part of Aktion Reinhard, the second and deadliest phase of the Final Solution. Construction of the camp was completed between May and July of 1942, with the first railway transport of victims arriving at Treblinka in July from the Warsaw ghetto. In total the site of Treblinka covered 17 hectares, almost completely camouflaged by the surrounding forest.

As Ambassadors, we have had the privilege of hearing the first-hand testimony of Holocaust survivors. A common theme amongst all testimony is the tragic story of terror, loss and destruction in the most inhumane manner; but also hope. For our creative response piece in the April newsletter, we wanted to focus on this idea of hope and look at artworks created during the Holocaust as a form of resistance.

For this edition of the Ambassador Newsletter, our Reviews Team reflected on the range of ways in which resistance during the Holocaust has been depicted and explored through film.

Here are some events and online exhibitions that we think may be interesting to our Ambassadors over the next couple of months.

On 27th January 1945, Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated by the Red Army and thousands of survivors were freed from the unimaginable suffering they had experienced. The world gradually became aware of the horrors that had taken place and the 1.1 million people that had been murdered there. In this article, we will be highlighting three stories of people who were imprisoned at Auschwitz and their lives before the Holocaust. As Ambassadors of the Holocaust Educational Trust, we know that looking beyond the numbers is crucial when remembering survivors and victims. It is important to remember that the Holocaust was not one event, but a series of interconnected events and experiences; a series of ‘One Days’, each of which played a role in shaping lives.

Dov Forman is the great-grandson of Holocaust survivor Lily Ebert BEM, and co-author of the two-time Sunday Times best-seller, “Lily’s Promise”.

“So I promised I would tell the world what had happened. Not just to me, but to all the people who could not tell their stories.”

To commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day 2022, we wanted to represent the theme of ‘One Day’ in a visual way that shares why it is so important to educate about the Holocaust today. It is always deeply moving to see that on Holocaust Memorial Day the world pauses to reflect on the Holocaust and subsequent genocides and make a pledge that hatred and discrimination have no place in society.

Every year Ambassadors for the Holocaust Educational Trust organise events all over the UK to mark Holocaust Memorial Day. From assemblies in schools to organising survivor events at universities, Ambassadors organise a wide range of different events, sharing what they have learnt with their communities to ensure that the Holocaust is never forgotten. Below we have highlighted a few Ambassadors and what they chose to do this year to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day.

Here are some events and courses that we think may be interesting to our Ambassadors over the next couple of months.

“A famous Nazi hunter and a descendent of Nazi collaborators team up on a journey to uncover Lithuania’s Holocaust secrets”

Martin Winstone is Senior Historical Advisor to the Holocaust Educational Trust and project historian for the United Kingdom Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre. He is a member of the UK delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) and the author of The Holocaust Sites of Europe (2010) and The Dark Heart of Hitler’s Europe (2014). Martin has frequently appeared as an expert commentator on the Holocaust on television and radio. Martin spoke to the team about the dangers of Holocaust distortion and how we can come together to combat it.

Holocaust distortion and denial are both a huge threat to the memory of the Holocaust, but they are very different in how and why they present themselves. In order to fully understand distortion and denial and the dangers they pose, it’s important to differentiate their meanings. Holocaust denial tries to erase the Holocaust from history e.g., by claiming the Holocaust never happened. Distortion doesn't question whether the Holocaust happened; instead it excuses, misrepresents or minimises the history.

The theme of the Ambassador Conference 2021 (AmCon) was #ProtectTheFacts, supporting the global campaign and international initiative of the European Commission, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), the United Nations, and UNESCO, who have joined forces to raise awareness of Holocaust distortion, both how to recognise it and how to counter it. Distortion is a dangerous assault on the memory of the Holocaust. During AmCon, we learnt about the different forms of distortion and how we can #ProtectTheFacts. It is crucial that we act now to preserve the memory of the Holocaust for future generations.

The theme of year’s Ambassador Conference was #ProtectTheFacts against Holocaust distortion. One of my favourite sessions was a coffee morning with survivor, Tomi Komoly BEM. Tomi has lived in several countries both during (whilst in hiding) and after the Holocaust and what really struck me is that he shared the difficulties many countries have in admitting their involvement in the Holocaust.

Here are some events and courses that we think may be interesting to our Ambassadors over the next couple of months.

For this edition of the Ambassador Newsletter, our Reviews Team share their thoughts on a selection of stories of the Holocaust in The Netherlands. With many of these accounts being less well-known and not often highlighted when first thinking of the topic, we felt it was all-the-more important to shed light on stories of such bravery, resilience and courage.

Isobel Bowers and Curtis Burbidge explore what happened when the Nazis occupied the Netherlands, from the persecution and collaboration of local people to the eventual deportations to Auschwitz-Birkenau and other camps.

As Ambassadors we know that the Holocaust took place in many different ways across Europe, this is what makes it so complex. For this edition of the Ambassador Newsletter, we chose to undertake some more research into the experience of the Dutch Jewish community, particularly focusing on the deportations