Monthly Archives - February 2015

Second Generation survivors’ stories from HMD 2015

I’m excited to be able to share with you these moments from our civic commemoration as audio files.

Zuzana Crouch of the Second Generation group speaking about her family’s wartime experiences in Czechoslovakia

Eva Fielding-Jackson recounting her parents’ stories of surviival from Auschwitz and other concentration camps including Belsen, where her father Samuel Feldman was still registered as of July 1947, in part because as a deaf man he had not understood that the war had ended.


international day of prayer and awareness against human trafficking

Bristol HMD is a non-religious organisation and we acknowledge with gratitude the contribution of people of all faiths and none to the struggle for human rights everywhere.

With thanks to the Clifton Diocese newsletter, source of this item.

Sunday, 8 February is the feast day of St Josephine Bakhita and designated as a Day of Prayer for Victims of Trafficking and those who work to combat it.

CT A3 poster

The feast of St Josephine Bakhita – 8 February – as Day of Prayer  for Victims of Human Trafficking and those who work to combat it, has been celebrated by Catholics in England and Wales since February 2013 and in the United States since 2014. The Vatican has also endorsed the celebration of the feast of St Josephine Bakhita as an International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking.

On Sunday 8 February 2015, the Universal Catholic Church will celebrate the feast of St Josephine Bakhita, as the first International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking” in our parishes, dioceses, schools, communities and groups.  Pope Francis has called human trafficking “an open wound on the body of contemporary society, a scourge upon the body of Christ” and “a crime against humanity

The aim of the Day of Prayer is to raise awareness through homilies, prayers, reflections and discussions on this global phenomenon and the plight of the millions of people, (estimated by the International Labour Organisation to be 2.5 million at any given time) who are affected by human trafficking and to support the work of the church under leadership of the Holy Father, Pope Francis to eradicate of this modern day slavery.

St Josephine Bakhita was born in about 1869 in Darfur, Sudan, into a well-respected and reasonably prosperous family.  Sometime between the age of seven to nine (probably 1877), she was kidnapped by Arab slave traders and spent more than twelve years (1877–1889) being bought and sold several times, then given away.  She experienced the moral and physical humiliations associated with slavery. It is said that the trauma of her abduction caused her to forget her own name; she took one given to her by the slavers, bakhita, Arabic for lucky.

Her life changed in 1882 when she was bought for the Italian Consul.  From then on, she received from her masters, kindness, respect, peace and joy. Josephine came to discover love in a profound way even though at first she was unable to name its source.

She was then entrusted to the Canossian Sisters of the Institute of the Catechumens in Venice. There  Bakhita came to know about God whom, ‘she had experienced in her heart without knowing who He was’ since she was a child. She was received into the Catholic Church in 1890, joining the sisters and making final profession in 1896.

The next fifty years of her life were spent witnessing to God’s love through cooking, sewing, embroidery and attending to the door. Her constant smile won people’s hearts, as did her humility and simplicity.

As she grew older she experienced long, painful years of sickness; when asked how she was, she’d respond: ‘As the Master desires’. During her last days she relived the painful days of her slavery and more than once begged: ‘Please, loosen the chains… they are heavy!’

Surrounded by the sisters, she died on 8 February 1947. She was canonized in 2000.

You will find a link to download a prayer card and a poster for the Day of Prayer for the Victims of Human Trafficking here .  To find out more about modern day slavery in the UK and abroad see the following websites, the Medaille Trust , Unseen  and   Unchosen .

There is also information about what you can do to support their work.


Remembering the Bosnian Genocide

In 1992 – 1995, the people of Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia were mired in a conflict which led to genocide of the Bosnian people most infamously in the massacre of Srebenica in July 1995.

Today, with the organising and generous hosting by the Bristol Multifaith Forum, people of Bristol were able to come together to  hear Stephen Williams, MP for Bristol West, and Lord Paddy Ashdown share personal and inspiring stories of their experiences of the Bosnian people and the importance of remembrance as a first step toward preventing such things happening again.


Who was Rudolf Hoess?

according to Wikipedia:

Rudolf Franz Ferdinand Höss (represented in German as Höß, also sometimes spelledHoeß, or Hoess) (25 November 1901[1][2] – 16 April 1947) was an SSObersturmbannführer (lieutenant colonel). Höss joined the Nazi Party in 1922 and the SS in 1934. From 4 May 1940 to November 1943, and again from 8 May 1944 to 18 January 1945, he was the commandant of Auschwitz concentration camp, where it is estimated that more than a million people were killed.[3][4] He was hanged in 1947 following a trial in Warsaw.

Four days before he was executed, Höss acknowledged the enormity of his crimes in a message to the state prosecutor:

“My conscience compels me to make the following declaration. In the solitude of my prison cell I have come to the bitter recognition that I have sinned gravely against humanity. As Commandant of Auschwitz I was responsible for carrying out part of the cruel plans of the ‘Third Reich’ for human destruction. In so doing I have inflicted terrible wounds on humanity. I caused unspeakable suffering for the Polish people in particular. I am to pay for this with my life. May the Lord God forgive one day what I have done.”

His grandson Rainer Hoess has come out publicly in opposition to his family’s past, going so far as to tattoo a Star of David and the prisoner identification number on his chest of his Jewish adopted ‘grandma’ Eva Mozes Kor. And he campaigns against neo-Nazis and the rise of the far right as you can see in this video.

Read more about Rainer and his planned visit to the 70th anniversary commemorations at Auschwitz on 27 January 2015 in this article:


Understanding the Nuremberg Laws

I have studied these progressively more restrictive laws in the past.  Until now I didn’t understand that one of the Nazis’ goals was voluntary emigration…. while it might still have been possible.

The following is excerpted wholly from the Holocaust Educational Trust’s excellent ’70 Voice for 70 Days’ website and mobile app.


January 27, 2015

Throughout the 1930s, German Jews were subjected to ever increasing legal persecution. The most important legislation came in the Nuremberg Laws of September 1935 which stripped Jews of the rights of German citizens and prevented marriage to non-Jews. However, as the following examples of laws show, persecution could affect any area of life.

10 July 1935
The establishment of Jewish youth hostels is allowed only if they are not adjacent to other institutions or residences and the police have the possibility of easy access for the purpose of supervision. Jewish campsites are forbidden except when they are established on land belonging to Jews and are not located in the vicinity of non-Jewish residences. Hiking by Jewish youth groups of more than 20 is forbidden.

3 April 1936
Appointment as a vet shall be refused if the candidate cannot be an official because of his or his spouse’s ancestry.

22 March 1938
Only honourable racial comrades who, as well as their wives, are citizens of the German Reich of German or kindred blood, can become allotment gardeners.

27 July 1938
If they have not already been so, all streets or lanes named after Jews or half-Jews are to be renamed. Old street signs are to be removed at the same time with the placement of new signs.

The anti-Jewish laws were intended to make life in Germany so uncomfortable that Jews would emigrate. However, by 1938 a growing number of Nazis believed that more radical action was needed to force Jews out of Germany.

HET day 8 picture of boy

Photo: a young German Jewish boy in a garden, 1930s; United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Ralph Blumenthal

Laws: Joseph Walk (ed.), Das Sonderrecht für die Juden im NS-Staat : eine Sammlung der gesetzlichen Massnahmen und Richtlinien (C.F. Müller, 1981)


forced walks now live!

item provided by Lorna Brunstein and Richard White:
Tuesday 27 January was Holocaust Memorial Day, the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by the Red Army. As part of the events we launched Forced Walks: Honouring Esther, a walking arts project. We presented the project concept at 44AD Gallery, Bath, where we will be exhibiting documentation from the walk and new work produced in response to it. Although we are still desperately short of cash, the project is now live:

Over the coming two months the project will develop, generating and connecting local human rights resonances. We are especially keen to hear from veterans of the soldiers who liberated the death camp at Belsen and their descendants, as well as local historians, migrants and exiles interested in this walking witness and creative exploration of exile and belonging.

We walk on April 14 and 15 arriving at the Old Jewish Burial Ground, Coombe Down, Bath, on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Belsen by the British Army. We will walk on rights of way as close as possible to the transposed line and conduct interventions where our walk intersects that line. We plan for an intimate participatory and performative walk gathering sounds and images, pausing to reflect and share with the world. We will use smart devices and social networking as well as talk and bits of paper! If this is successful we plan to repeat the walk on its 71st anniversary, in early February on the actual route in Germany.

In order to deliver the project as we imagine it we need drivers and stewards and non walkers to support us on the day, as well as social network users who can actively spread the words and images we will generate. If you would be interested in supporting this project in any way please express your interest on the blog site here, there is a contact form at the bottom of the home page:

We are hugely grateful for support in kind from Bath Spa University and the kindness of many colleagues. If you would like to back the project even by a small amount follow this link:

Donation Page

If you would like to physically join the walk, numbers are strictly limited, so you will need to formally register by following this link:

Walker Registration

Forced Walks image