Holocaust Educational Trust Ambassador Blog

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

The Ambassador Newsletter Interview Team were honoured to speak to Holocaust survivor and resistance hero Selma van de Perre about her life during the Second World War and her recently published book 'My Name is Selma'.

For our creative responses piece this edition, we focussed on 'The Diary of Anne Frank'. Anne's diary is full of incredible quotes and insightful writings that it is easy to forget she was just thirteen when she started writing.

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

When discussing the theme for this edition of the newsletter ‘post-liberation’, we were inspired by the idea to focus on songs and their links to liberation during the Holocaust. As Professor of Modern Jewish History at UCL, Shirli Gilbert argues “songs were recognised as playing an integral role, both as historical sources … to reconstruct what happened, and as artefacts that could preserve the voices, and thereby the memory, of the victims”. This highlights the importance of songs in preserving the voices of the Holocaust and how song acts as an insight into the mentalities of the Jewish people persecuted. In particular how they resisted, and how they felt during liberation.

In 1945, the British government made an agreement to give refuge to 1000 child survivors of the Holocaust. Of these children, around 300 were brought to the Calgarth Estate by Lake Windermere. In the opening sequence of the BBC film The Windermere Children (2020), one young boy steps forward, raising his concerns over being brought to England under the wrong name. From the onset, the film poses one of the most crucial questions regarding post-liberation and the aftermath of the Holocaust: when someone's identity and sense of humanity has been so eroded, to the point where they no longer have ownership over their own name, how do they even begin to rebuild?

At the beginning of last year, I had the privilege of taking part in the Trust’s Belsen 75 Project, hearing from a Holocaust survivor and attending a one-day visit to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The visit to Bergen-Belsen is one I shall never forget. I witnessed what hatred and intolerance can lead to, and why the work the Trust does, and the work that we do as Ambassadors, is so important. When I returned, I was keen to learn more about the camp and decided to undertake some research to find out what life was like for the survivors of Bergen-Belsen, post-liberation.

I applied to take part in the ‘Understanding Antisemitism in the UK’ short course for Ambassadors because I wanted to learn more about antisemitism. This would enable me to more effectively share my knowledge on the contemporary relevance of the Holocaust and to better understand the experiences of the Jewish community. As a Politics student it was an opportunity I felt I couldn’t miss, especially following the increase of antisemitism within political culture, and I knew understanding the roots of injustices was crucial to combatting them.

Interview with Holocaust survivor Mala Tribich MBE

Four of our Ambassadors, Hadia, Mark, Ben and Abbie, reflect on their experiences of our Belsen 75 project and their visit to Bergen-Belsen for the 76th anniversary of the liberation of the camp.

“Well first of all, they kept on saying to me ‘tell the world. They must know it happened. Did you know it? Did you know what was happening to us? You won’t be able to save us all, but those who can talk and will survive they must present all of our suffering to the world.’”  - Reverend Leslie Hardman - the first Jewish Chaplain with the British Army to enter Bergen-Belsen.

This book was a wonderful read. It is a book that champions freedom, choice, and liberty. We as individuals have the right to live as freely as we want to, and Eddie Jaku explores this theme throughout the book.

When we hear the word ‘Holocaust’ many thoughts may come to mind, from the concentration camps to the ghettos and to the survivors who continue to share their stories.

Daniel, Lucy and Fiona are Regional Ambassadors for the Holocaust Educational Trust, based in London and the North-East. For Holocaust Memorial Day, they came together to create a website for young people to respond creatively to this year's theme - ‘Be the light in the darkness’. Here is a small selection of the artwork, photographs and poetry that were submitted.

Last week I had the utmost privilege of discussing my work as an Ambassador for the Holocaust Educational Trust with Holocaust survivors, Manfred Goldberg BEM and Zigi Shipper BEM, as well as our special guest, Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Cambridge.

Holocaust Memorial Day 2020 marked 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. To commemorate this milestone, myself and fellow Regional Ambassador, Jack Nicholls, had the honour of joining the Jewish News’ editing panel to work alongside a team of extraordinary individuals with the goal of creating an 80-page edition worthy of such an anniversary.

Welcome to our series interviewing Holocaust survivors with the questions that Ambassadors want to know the answers to.

Just before lockdown in late February 2020, myself and a group of fellow Holocaust Educational Trust Ambassadors participated in and created a takeover exhibition at the Jewish Museum London. The project was called ‘Your Legacy and Me’ and our aim was to explore the role art plays in the legacy of Holocaust remembrance. Over two days, we attended a variety of sessions and workshops and were able to explore the Jewish Museum, before creating our own ‘legacy art’ inspired by the testimonies of four inspiring Holocaust survivors.

Last summer (July 2019), I was honoured to attend a ten-day study visit to Yad Vashem's International School for Holocaust Studies in Jerusalem, Israel with a group of Holocaust Educational Trust Regional Ambassadors. The visit was a life-changing and defining experience for me and I’m excited to share some of my key highlights with you!