Kinder Sculpture

 

Mar 2004 Journal

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Holocaust Memorial Day: From the Holocaust to Rwanda

Lessons learned, lessons still to learn

Vivid narration of a struggle for survival

In front of a lecture theatre full of students and lecturers of the Universities of Sussex and Brighton, on Holocaust Memorial Day, Janina Fischler-Martinho recalled how she and her brother escaped the final Aktion in the Cracow ghetto. For the fourth year, the event was organised on the Sussex campus, with the support of the AJR, by the Centre for German-Jewish Studies under its new director Dr Raphael Gross, successor to Professor Edward Timms.

Cracow, with its population of 63,000 Jews, was occupied by the Germans in 1939. Janina was just nine years old, one of three children whose parents earned a very modest income. Herded into a ghetto, in the final expulsion of Jews in 1942 SS loudspeaker cars blared out the promise that they would be 'well off' and families kept together when 'resettled in Eastern Poland'. Janina and her brother melted away from the crowds and, joining a handful of others, escaped through the sewers.

Last year Janina returned to Cracow for the first time. When attempting to place a rose on the remains of the high ghetto wall, she asked a passer-by for help. 'Not for Jews' came back the reply.

The event included a film on the Rwandan genocide ten years on made by the Aegis Trust, a discussion on post-genocide Rwanda, workshops on Holocaust education through art and film, and a discussion on the mixed reaction of Brighton residents to the imminent re-opening of a hotel as a refugee hostel.
Ronald Channing

previous article:Holocaust Memorial Day: Home town honours Frank Foley, Britain's Schindler
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