Kinder Sculpture

 

Mar 2002 Journal

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'Resistance and Rescue' theme for University's Holocaust Memorial Day

For the second year in succession, the support of the AJR enabled the Centre for German-Jewish Studies at the University of Sussex and its director, Professor Edward Timms, to promote a specially devised programme of survivor testimony, lectures and film with which to mark Holocaust Memorial Day. This year's theme was 'Resistance and Rescue, then and now'. Students and members of staff participated from Sussex and the neighbouring campus of the University of Brighton, as well as sixth-formers and teachers from the city.

Keynote addresses were delivered by Professor Alasdair Smith, Vice Chancellor of Sussex University, and Sir David Watson, Director of Brighton University. Chana Moshenska, Director of Educational Programmes at the Centre, introduced the eight-hour programme which she had devised with her colleague John Jacobs. A particularly warm welcome was extended by Prof Timms to Mrs Hilde Kochmann, widow of Max Kochmann, who, in his capacity as chairman of fundraising for the Centre, did so much to secure its foundation and enhance its reputation.

In a session devoted to survivor testimony, Trude Levi, one of very few Hungarians who survived Auschwitz-Birkenau, gave a graphic description of the dehumanising brutality and extermination inflicted on her family and the eventual sheer luck of her own emancipation when, on a death march, even her exceptional strength to continue living had finally deserted her. Freddie Knoller, who quit annexed Austria for Belgium and France, was the main speaker in the session on political resistance. His own improbable survival, heaving heavy sacks in a rubber factory at Auschwitz-Monowitz, resulted from his compassion to an older fellow Jewish prisoner.

Discussion group topics covered spiritual resistance, photography, anti-racist and Holocaust education, and present-day resistance and rescue. The Power of Humanity, a new film on the impromptu rescue of 689 mainly Jewish Czech children on Kindertransport, was shown. Nicholas Winton, with limited but dedicated support from Eleanor Rathbone and others, managed to bring these children to Britain, but the outbreak of war brought the immediate cessation of further Kindertransports and the consequent loss of children's lives.

A lunchtime concert was held on the campus of Imperial College, London for students and staff, in association with the AJR, to mark Holocaust Memorial Day for the second year. The concert was preceded by a short exposition of the day's significance and the role of the AJR by Theo Marx, a former AJR Chairman and an alumnus of the college.
Ronald Channing

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