Remembering the Holocaust

by Andrew Miller (Second year History and Politics student at Canterbury Christ Church)

Last week, Canterbury Christ Church University had the privilege to hear Holocaust survivor, Mala Tribich. She shared her personal experiences of Ravensbruck and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps, as well as her pre-war Jewish life, the ghettos and the labour camps. I think all who attended will agree it was a truly emotional and inspirational event.

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(Andrew discussing the work of the Holocaust Educational Trust)

As a Regional Ambassador for the Holocaust Educational Trust, I was delighted to be able to plan, manage, and run the event at CCCU. With the help of the Making Politics Matter forum, the event epitomised my personal aims and hopes for Holocaust education.

In 2011, I visited Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland on the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Lessons From Auschwitz course. I will always remember that visit. Walking around the larger camp, Birkenau, in the cold, dark, and silence, made it easier to imagine what it must have been like to be a prisoner there. I became a Regional Ambassador for the Trust at the beginning of last year. Having 20,000 ambassadors who have participated in the same course, the Trust appointed us to help connect and educate about the Holocaust. It can feel like a burden sometimes but most of the time it is one of the greatest privileges. Last week I felt so proud and grateful as a representative of the Trust and the politics department to see the number of young people interested in this subject and keen to take every opportunity to hear and remember the testimony of a Holocaust survivor. Read about more of the Trust’s work here and my work here.

I will never forget Mala’s story. This week I had the opportunity to hear the testimony of another Bergen-Belsen survivor, Gena Turgel, which you can read here. To both I have promised never to forget their stories. To hear a firsthand account of the atrocities inflicted upon on the Jews of Europe by the Nazis during the Second World War is a life-changing experience. It is so important that we remember the Holocaust, that we never forget the stories and testimonies of Holocaust victims, and that we pass them on to our peers and the next generations.

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(Mrs. Mala Tribich)

Therefore, my hope is that all who heard Mala will never forget her testimony and will want to take every opportunity, whether as an event or in daily life, to celebrate individuality and diversity, to stand up against hatred and discrimination, and to commemorate the Holocaust and all who testify to it.

To do so, why not make a pledge today based on your personal reflection of the testimony and the Holocaust. Outside Anselm Studios and Canterbury Christ Church Chapel, there is a pledge board for you to write your pledge on and add it to CCCU’s commitment to ‘Never Again’ allow the Holocaust or such atrocities to happen. Each thread on the board represents a journey, specifically our journeys.

Holocaust Memorial Day 2014, which you can get more information about here, commemorates the journeys of the victims of the Holocaust. There were many journeys made. There were the Kindertransports, the journey into and from the ghettos, journeys to the gas chambers, journeys up the chimneys through the smoke into eternal freedom, journeys on the death marches, and journeys of liberation. These are the journeys we remember.

However, the pledge board reminds us that, having heard Mala’s journey, we must work on our journeys. We must ask, ‘What does this mean for me?’ We also remember, therefore, the journeys we have made, the journeys we are making, and the journeys we hope to make. We need to aim to make these journeys and the journeys of our children and our children’s children, the best that they can be. Join me in adding a pledge to do this from this week onwards.

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(Over 250 students, staff and members of the public attended this wonderful event)

To finish, a big thank you to everyone who attended the event last week and to Making Politics Matter for their help in organising and marketing the event. Last week could be the end of the subject, but it is not. There remains a lot to do to ensure stories like Mala’s are not eclipsed. For this reason, watch this space for the next ways we, as Canterbury Christ Church University commit to remembering the Holocaust.

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