Holocaust Educational Trust Blog

A space for featured guest bloggers and members of the Holocaust Educational Trust team to comment and reflect on timely issues.

'Their Legacy, Our Future’ and the Impact on Me

The Holocaust Educational Trust (HET) is gearing up for its first online crowdfunding campaign, movingly and appropriately entitled ‘Their Legacy, Our Future’. Not only does the theme of the campaign speak honestly and to the heart of our mission at the Trust, but it also has a profound meaning and truth to my own personal experience of HET’s work.

My name is Annabel, and I am currently a Project Coordinator for the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Lessons from Auschwitz Project. Prior to this I was a Regional Ambassador for the Trust and experienced LFA for myself in 2014.

I often say I owe a lot to the Holocaust Educational Trust. However, I feel I should amend this to: I owe a lot to our survivors. They are at the heart of what we do, they inspire us and all whom they meet, they affirm us and amaze us time and again. Their testimonies are the veins that run through our work, and their spirit is the lifeforce of the organisation.

When you look upon the face of a survivor, hear their voice and learn their name it is a profound and deeply transformative moment. It is the point at which our audiences link the abstractness of a brutal history dense with incomprehensible and impersonal statistics, with a human life. This human connection is a moment where testimony causes powerful emotions to emerge to often transformational levels.

My personal journey with HET is testament to the truth and power of this experience, and I know that I am not the only person able to express this sentiment. Hearing testimony inspired my passion for Holocaust education and consistently fuelled my growing commitment to our vital mission. The legacy of Holocaust survivors is absolutely something that influenced my present and will continue to shape my future in my career and in what matters to me.

‘Their Legacy, Our Future’ is a powerful statement, and its meaning is multifaceted. However, its heartbeat lies in the truth and extent of the impact our survivors have on those they meet. An impact that resonates for days, and years to come and knits itself into your core values and the person you become. HET’s work not only ensures the preservation of Holocaust memory, but it also shapes people, and it has shaped me.

I smile when I think of Zigi Shipper’s witty sense of humour.

I feel admiration when I hear Ruth Posner’s incredible stories of her career in the arts.

I feel uplifted by Dorit Oliver Wolf’s vivacious spirit and fierce joy for life.

I am comforted by Harry Spiro’s soft voice and am heartened when he tells me how much he loves his wife.

My day is made when I speak to Janine Webber and her sweetness and gentleness flows through the phone.

I admire Mala Tribich’s humility and the kindness she shows all those who hear her speak.

I am moved by Hannah Lewis and her love for her family and her fellow survivors.

There is so much more I could say about the survivors I have personally heard from and met, and there will always be more to say about the importance of testimony and the privilege of working with Holocaust survivors. And it is because of their overwhelming bravery and spirit for life, that their legacy is one that is both vital and precious. They teach us so much about this dark and painful period of history and still so much more about the value of life and all the strength and joy to be found in living with courage, love and holding onto each other tightly.

 

So, to our inspirational and brave survivors, thank you and rest assured that your legacy will be safe in our hands, that it inspires and guides our future and lives in the present of all who are moved by your testimonies.

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Has anyone else seen a rise in antisemitism on social media recently?

My name is Abbie and I currently study History at Newcastle University, which is my native city. I had the privilege of taking part in the Lessons from Auschwitz Project in 2018. I am now an Ambassador for the Trust and as such I have a responsibility to continue to remember the testimonies of survivors in order to create an understanding in all, that discrimination is not tolerated.

Recently I took part in the ‘Understanding Antisemitism’ course offered to me through the Trust. Throughout my studies, I never stopped researching into the injustices the Jewish community had suffered. I remember reading my eldest sisters history dissertation about the Jewish identity, or lack thereof, because of their history. For me, to understand Jewish history was a necessity, as it would help me empathise with the community and acknowledge better when antisemitism occurred as it is not always overt.

The course has allowed me to become more aware of online sources, as a historian I question everything, but this has become needed these past couple of weeks. Online recently much misinformation was spread about the Jewish community regarding the Israel and Palestinian war. As a direct result of this antisemitism increased majorly. In London, Canada the United States and more, people used this war as an excuse to assault innocent people and spread hate regarding the Jewish community. Jewish people I communicate with feared leaving home, something I will never have to fear.

I thought back to the course and started to ask my followers to fact check sources online, to research about the war, to ask me for information and references if they needed to. I took part in discussions on forums, contacted Jews and Palestinians alike, and educated people the best I could.

It is this easy for me, this is my role as a human, not as an ambassador. We should all do what’s right, to raise awareness and most importantly to provide support for those that are so often marginalised in society.

It is our job to be empathetic, the world is always in short supply of it, especially in the digital world.

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My Family, the Resistance and the Holocaust

By Vesna Domany-Hardy

I come from a progressive Jewish family who at the time of my birth in 1941 lived in Croatia. My mother and her parents had moved to Zagreb from Sarajevo in 1938. My family had to move due to my mother’s anti-fascist activities which she undertook whilst still being at secondary school. She also had a boyfriend who had volunteered to fight for the Spanish Republic and who had joined the International Brigades.

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Jewish hero of Holocaust rescue – Ottó Komoly

By Tomi Komoly

Ottó Komoly (Kohn) was my father’s older brother. He played a remarkable role in Hungarian Jewry before and during the Holocaust, but never received the international recognition his activities deserved. I would like to fill the gap with this testimony. 

He was born in Budapest in 1892.  His father David Kohn attended the first Zionist conference and founded the movement’s Hungarian branch.

Ottó fought in the Austro-Hungarian army reaching the rank of captain, wounded in action, and awarded military honours. He subsequently graduated at the Technical University of Budapest, while active in the youth Zionist movement. 

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Why is the struggle against antisemitism no different four years on?

Just over a year ago I stood in Parliament Square with thousands of others from the Jewish community and all decent people and we said “enough is enough”. We were challenging what felt like a relentless tide of incidents where Jew hatred was not being taken seriously by a mainstream political party. One year on and what has changed? Nothing. If anything, it’s worse.

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