Sarah and Guy reflect on their experiences of Holocaust Survivor Week
When we started working at UJS, a Holocaust survivor week was something we had wanted to do from the beginning. We were extremely grateful to have so many inspiring speakers tell their stories, and to have shared this with so many people. In total, two hundred and seventy students heard from Holocaust survivors and their descendants, which was greatly appreciated by all who attended.
On Monday, Guy arranged for Tomi Reichental to speak to Bristol, Cork, Dublin and Belfast JSocs. Tomi spoke about his life in Slovakia as a child, before he was deported to Bergen-Belsen, and how he moved to Ireland to become one of its only Holocaust survivors.
Many students at Irish and Bristol JSocs made the most of the chance to hear Tomi speak, with crowded lecture halls all on Zoom together.
On Tuesday Sarah spent the evening with Huddersfield JSoc and listened to Liesel Carter tell her story of coming to England at 4 years old. After being transferred through a number of families to get there from Germany, including a period living in Sweden and Norway, she found safety in Britain in January 1940. This story, as well as her work to find out what happened to the rest of her family was inspirational. The kind of perseverance and strength displayed is truly something to be admired.
On Wednesday Sarah visited Birmingham JSoc, and we heard Michael Bandel tell his father’s story, of his experiences in Auschwitz, Mauthausen and Ebensee concentration camps. Not only was this a remarkable story but hearing it from Martin as a second-generation survivor reinforced the importance of remembering these people and their stories, and ensuring that their legacies live on.
On Thursday, Guy visited Oxford JSoc to hear Irene Gill’s testimony, with Warwick JSoc joining on Zoom. Irene was born in Germany, from where she escaped to Denmark in 1936, before then moving to Oxford, where she has lived since she was six years old. Irene shared her experiences and how they have informed her political views to an overflowing lecture hall in Oxford, which was a unique and really interesting perspective.
We were so proud to have delivered this programming, and would like to extend our gratitude to Tomi, Liesel, Michael, and Irene who generously gave their time, as well as to all the JSocs which hosted them and promoted the events.