Introducing our speakers for Bristol Holocaust Memorial Day 2020

We are pleased to welcome Dame Helen Hyde, Annick Lever, Lord Mayor Jos Clark, and sixth form students from Bristol to speak at this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration on Monday 27 January 2020.

Dame Helen Hyde

Dame Helen Hyde, Holocaust educator, and main speaker at Bristol Holocaust Memorial Day event 2020
Dame Helen Hyde. Credit: Foundation for Jewish Heritage

Dame Helen Hyde grew up in Apartheid South Africa and became an award-winning head teacher in the UK, where she spent 29 years as the Headmistress of Watford Grammar School for Girls.

In 2007 she obtained a Fellowship in Holocaust Studies from the Imperial War Museum, and in 2013 she was made a DBE for services to national education and Holocaust education.

She is a trustee of the Holocaust Education Trust, the Anne Frank Trust, and the National Holocaust Centre and Museum, and a Patron of the Rwandan Sisterhood, working with survivors of the Rwandan genocide. She is co-director of Refugees to Recovery, in Watford.

Members of Bristol HMD Steering Group were lucky enough to see Dame Helen Hyde speak at the Ammerdown Centre in 2019, and we cannot wait to bring her to a Bristol audience.

For more on Dame Helen Hyde, visit her website.

Annick Lever

Annick Lever, child survivor of the Holocaust, and speaker at Bristol Holocaust Memorial Day 2020
Annick Lever. Credit: Alan Lever

Born in France in 1943 to a Jewish mother and a Catholic father, Annick Lever was only a child when she faced Nazi persecution.

Annick and her Jewish relatives were arrested, but she was smuggled out of the prison before inmates were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. She was then raised Catholic by a French family.

Annick rediscovered her Jewish roots as a teenager and went on to settle in England, where she was an au-pair for a Jewish family in Bristol. She later married and now lives in Surrey.

We are very privileged to have Annick speak at Bristol HMD 2020 and share her experiences with us. She has previously spoken at HMD events organised by Sutton Grammar School, The League of Jewish Women, and North West Surrey Synagogue.

Annick’s story is included in the book Women’s Experiences in the Holocaust: In Their Own Words, by Agnes Grunwald-Spier.

Other speakers at Bristol Holocaust Memorial Day 2020

We will also hear from sixth form students at Cotham School, St. Brendan’s Sixth Form College and St. Mary Redcliffe, who will reflect on their visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau, the former concentration camp and death camp in Poland, where 1.1 million people were killed. The three schools took part in the Lessons From Auschwitz programme, organised by the Holocaust Education Trust.

Jos Clark, the Lord Mayor of Bristol, will also speak at Bristol Holocaust Memorial Day 2020. She has a Masters degree in social work from the University of Bristol, and was elected as Lord Mayor in May 2019.

We hope to see you at Bristol Holocaust Memorial Day 2020, from 1:30pm-4:45pm on Monday 27 January at City Hall, College Green.


The Queen visits Bergen Belsen

Queen Elizabeth II Visits Bergen Belsen Holocaust Concentration Camp

Image: Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth II, a patron of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, visited the site of the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp in Germany to pay her respects. More than 50,000 perished at the NAZI camp including Anne Frank and her sister Margot. It is the first time Her Royal Highness has visited a concentration camp. She requested that the visit be added to her four day schedule during a tour of was accompanied by her husband Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

Bergen Belsen was liberated in April 1945 by the British 11th Armoured Division. This year has seen the 70 anniversary of the liberation of the concentration and death camps, but as the number who liberated the camps falls, the importance of passing on memories and understanding of the true horror of this European genocide grows.

Rudi Oppenheimer, 83, was sent to the Bergen Belsen camp when he was just 12 years old with his brother Paul and sister Eva. All three survived, though their parents were murdered. He said: “I am lucky because I survived and I was able to put up a gravestone in my parents’ memory, but so many people didn’t survive and no-one remembers them.” He told the Daily Telegraph that he was “thrilled” by the Queen’s visit, adding: “She is the head of the Army, they liberated the camp and they looked after all the inmates. Some of the British soldiers died from typhus as a result and it is important for her to honour them.”

Queen Elizabeth II Duke of Edinburgh Bergen Belsen Concentration Camp Holocause June 2015

Image: Getty Images

With so many thousands perishing at Bergen Belsen, bodies were piled and thrown into mass graves by bulldozers. It is impossible to mark the exact location of graves and many families have erected tombstones at the site. One such memorial is that of Anne Frank and her sister Margot Frank. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh stopped at the memorial to talk to Mr Wagner before taking a reflective walk around the site.

“It must have been horrific,” The Queen said to navy pilot Captain Eric “Winkle” Brown, 96, from West Sussex, one of the first British officers to enter its gates on 15 April 1945.

“Utterly, utterly horrific,” he recalled later, with some 10,000 bodies just “littered around” and survivors “dehumanised”, urinating and defecating where they stood or lay. “They had lost all dignity, they were dying, none of them looked as if they would live,” he added in comments to The Guardian.

Throughout the year Holocaust Memorial Trust hold events to commemorate those lost in the Holocaust and educate people about what happened in one of Europe’s darkest times. Please visit our welcome page for more information about Holocaust memorial events in Bristol.