Holocaust Histories

By Kate Smith
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photo shows two men embracing after the liberation of Auchwitz

Survivors of Auchwitz embrace. Courtesy of the Wiener Archive

27th January is Holocaust Memorial day, remembering the lives of all the communities that suffered under Nazi persecution - amongst them six million Jews, gypsies, disabled and gay people – as well as thousands of black Germans.

Untold London describes some of the events taking place in London over the next week that look at history in the 30s and 40s as well as more recent conflicts.

photo shows small girl walking along street with her father

Cirla Lewis, aged 5 with her father. Courtesy of the Jewish Museum.

30s and 40s histories

The Jewish Museum in Finchley hosts a lecture on 26th January telling two remarkable stories: one of Cirla Lewis, a hidden child saved from the Holocaust, and Nduhukire an asylum seeker from Uganda. Both speak in person about their experiences.

The Jewish East End Celebration Society lists a number of events including a walk exploring the Jewish East End of the Second World War.

photo shows the holocaust galleries at the imperial war museum

The Holocaust Exhibition. Courtesy of the Imperial War Museum.

The Imperial War Museum’s permanent Holocaust exhibition gives the most thorough museum account of the period. While the main focus is on the persecution of the Jews of Europe, other groups such as Gypsies, Poles, Soviet prisoners of war, people with disabilities, homosexuals and prisoners of conscience are included. The museum is also running a talk and film to mark the day.

The Polish Cultural Institute tells the story of the Lodz Ghetto, through the recent documentary Sarid which is followed by a discussion with the director Zbigniew Gajzler.

Online, the Black History Month website describes a little-known aspect of the Holocaust: the estimated 24,000 Black people who were living in Germany at the time, and who were caught up in the destruction.

photo show the crimes against humanity exhibition

Crimes Against Humanity exhibition, courtesy of the Imperial War Museum

Recent conflicts

Events that look at more recent genocides in the light of the Holocaust include a small version of the Srebrenica Now exhibition and a showing and discussion of Hotel Rwanda. Details of these and many other local events for London can be found on the Holocaust Memorial Day website.

Two events look at the theory and cause of genocide.

The excellent Anne Frank + You exhibition is now in the north, but returns to London in June and July. Aimed at teenagers, it uses the story of Anne Frank to talk about present day issues including racism in football, the right to wear religious symbols, bullying and the plight of child soldiers. It looks at the beginnings of persecution, and how it can escalate.

For over 16s, the Imperial War Museum's stark film Crimes Against Humanity runs continuously on the top floor of the museum. Looking at genocides over the past 100 years, this hard hitting film gives a sobering account of mass killings across the world.

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