UK Museums Mark Holocaust Memorial Day - January 27 2008

By Ben Reus | 25 January 2008
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Colour picture of a yellow cloth star with the word 'Jude' (Jew) written on it.

Yellow star which Jews in the Third Reich were forced to wear. Copyright, Imperial War Museum.

UK museums and heritage sites are at the forefront of the nationwide events held to commemorate the UK's seventh annual Holocaust Memorial Day.

Liverpool will be the official host of Holocaust Memorial Day on Sunday January 27; the 63rd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and world-recognised day of remembrance for the Nazi atrocities in WW2.

This year the event themed ‘Imagine…remember, reflect, react’ aims to bring attention not only to the Jewish Holocaust, but also to other worldwide acts of genocide and intolerance.

As a prelude to the opening event, the RESPECTacles exhibition opened on Monday January 21 at Liverpool Town Hall, on the High Street.

The ongoing exhibition displays a mound of 100,000 pairs of glasses donated by the public, highlighting the horrors of genocide by simulating the piles of glasses confiscated from concentration camp prisoners.

A host of celebrities have donated their specs to the exhibition including: Ringo Starr, Tony Blair, Yoko Ono and Daniel Radcliffe.

a black and white photo of a pile of glasses

A mountain of spectacles confiscated from inmates at Auschwitz. Picture supplied by the Wiener Library.

For the 27th, Liverpool City Council have organised a poignant and emotional opening ceremony featuring Britain’s Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks, talks by Holocaust survivors and a performance of the story of the ‘Sarajevo Romeo and Juliet’ – a Bosniak and Bosnian Serb couple shot by both sides as they tried to leave Sarajevo together.

The event begins at noon, at Liverpool’s Philharmonic Hall, with the arrival of faith and community leaders, and will continue until 4.30pm when the Chief Rabbi will sign a Pledge Against Genocide.

The Imperial War Museum North, in Manchester, will commemorate the Holocaust and more recent genocides with a variety of free events taking place over the whole weekend.

Short films about survivors and refugees, guided walks through the museum and musical performances reflecting on Jewish musical heritage will be rounded off on Sunday by a talk and exhibition by Bergen-Belsen child-survivor and sculptor Maurice Blik.

a black and white photograph showing a rubble strewn railway line leading to a dark building with a tower in the distance

Gate tower, ramp and railway line at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Picture supplied by the Wiener Library.

Also in Manchester, the Jewish Museum will showcase ‘Champion of the child: Janusz Korczak’, the heart wrenching but inspiring story of Polish doctor and educator Janusz Korczak (1878-1942).

Korczak devoted his life to caring for orphans and establishing and defining the rights of the child. His work was eventually posthumously adopted by the United Nations as the ‘Convention Of The Rights Of The Child’ in 1989.

The exhibition explores how life in Poland became increasingly difficult for Korczak after the German occupation and how his orphanage was moved inside the Warsaw Ghetto.

a black and white photograph shwoing children in rags sat in despair on a street

Starving children in the Warsaw ghetto. Picture supplied by the Wiener Library.

On August 6 1942 he was forced to gather the 200 orphans in his care and report for deportation, refusing all offers for his own rescue and preferring to die with the children rather than abandon them to the horrors of Treblinka extermination camp.

A moving exhibition about the arrival in the Lake District of refugee children from Auschwitz after their liberation will be held at the site of their arrival at Windermere.

From Auschwitz to Ambleside describes children’s flight from the Nazis and their arrival in the Lake District, a place they believed to be paradise after the nightmares they had witnessed.

The exhibition begins on Monday January 28 and continues until February 8 and will be held at The Lakes School, Troutbeck Bridge, Windermere.

a black and white photograph of a young cinema audience

Boys at their new Ambleside home, 1945. Photo courtesy of Mayer Hersh.

From February 1 to March 9, the Charnwood Museum in Loughborough will mark Holocaust Memorial Day with the opening of a pictorial exhibition entitled Imagine.

The display, featuring harrowing images of child soldiers, was put together by local schoolchildren and demonstrates how the lessons associated with the Holocaust have not been truly understood and applied in relation to the atrocities in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur.

a photograph of a display in a museum consisting of boxes with photographs in them and the names contries Poland, Uganda, Angola, Bosnia etc

Part of the Charnwood exhibition exploring the global implications of the Holocaust. © Leicester Museums

Wood Green Library in Haringey, London, hosts The Last Goodbye until February 24 2008.

The show tells the extraordinary story of 10,000 children rescued from Nazi Europe by the ‘Kindertransport’, the rescue effort that brought thousands of refugee Jewish children to Britain between 1938 and 1940.

London’s Imperial War Museum also began its tribute to the Holocaust with a talk about the Kindertransport, on the January 24, enhanced by the personal testimonies of two of the refugees brought to Britain in the late 1930s.

The museum’s Holocaust film programme, shown January 25 – 31, will include Academy Award winning documentary ‘Into The Arms Of Strangers’, a reconstruction of the liberation of Dachau as recalled by a journalist present at the time, and a British wartime newsreel series.

a black and white photograph of an emaciated man standing next to row upon row of emaciated men crammed together in bunks

Jews in Buchenwald concentration camp shortly after it was overrun by units of the United States Army, April 1945. Imperial War Museum.

Ongoing exhibitions, Holocaust and Crimes Against Humanity, also use personal testimony, photographs, documents and artefacts to illustrate themes of genocide and ethnic violence.

The D-Day Museum in Portsmouth will focus on how the Allied landings in France, on June 6 1944, paved the way for the liberation of the concentration camps, as many of the soldiers involved in the landings went on to release the death camp prisoners.

There will be two 30 minute talks on January 27, at 11.30am and 1.30 pm, a poster display and two short films that will be screened throughout the day. The musuem will also be free to enter on the day.

a photograph of two people hugging each other, whilts figures in striped pajama uniforms smile in the background

Scenes from Flöha Camp near Chemnitz in Saxony after the liberation in 1945. Picture supplied by the Wiener Library.

Across the water, the Fermanagh County Museum in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, will invite one of the youngest Holocaust survivors, Eva Clarke, to tell her powerful story for the second year running.

Eva Clarke’s mother, Anka Bergman, fell pregnant whilst imprisoned in Terezin, a Jewish ghetto thirty miles from Prague. She then spent the nine months of her pregnancy in Auschwitz, hiding her condition from the camp guards, before Eva was born on route to another camp.

Eva’s father never knew his wife was pregnant when he was shot near Auschwitz a week before Liberation.

Prior booking for this event is essential, so anyone interested should contact the museum on 028 6632 5000.

Hundreds more events and displays are being held across the country and full listings for events in your area can be found at the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust website at www.hmd.org.uk.

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