|Article supplied by the Holocaust Educational Trust and their words entirely
for more about them see www.het.org.uk
Yesterday, the Holocaust Educational Trust led a delegation of over two hundred Holocaust Educational Trust Ambassadors, students, teachers and Trust supporters to take part in international commemorations to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Bergen-Belsen. It was an incredibly moving day and a privilege to be there on what was probably the last significant anniversary of the liberation that we will mark with survivors and liberators still with us in any great number.
We attended a commemoration at the site of the Jewish memorial in Bergen-Belsen where we heard from the President of Germany, Joachim Gauck, and the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis. We also heard a moving recital of the Jewish memorial prayer led by the Shabbaton Choir in a ceremony also attended by the Duke of Gloucester. This was followed by a service led by the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women (AJEX) alongside Holocaust survivors, dignitaries and delegations from across the world. Approximately 70,000 Jewish people died at Bergen-Belsen from disease, starvation and mistreatment at the hands of the Nazis.
British liberator Bernard Levy talks to the Trust’s delegation at Bergen-Belsen
We were delighted to meet Bernard Levy who was one of the British liberators of the camp 70 years ago. What he discovered when he arrived at Belsen shocked and horrified him so much that he only felt able to speak about it 68 years later. It was incredibly powerful to hear from him and our group were fortunate enough to be able to ask him questions. He later met Holocaust survivors Eva Behar and Mala Tribich who expressed their gratitude for all that the liberating British soldiers had done to restore their freedom.
British liberator Bernard Levy meeting Holocaust survivor Eva Behar who was liberated from Bergen-Belsen.
Later, we attended a very moving commemoration at the Jewish cemetery at the British Bergen-Hohne Garrison. The Garrison was originally the site of a Displaced Persons Camp in operation until 1950. The Jewish cemetery is where thousands of people who could not be saved in the weeks following liberation were buried. After 70 years, the British will soon be leaving the site of Bergen-Hohne making this ceremony the last commemoration on this site to be led by the British Army.
After the service, participants wrote messages and laid witnessing stones, a Jewish tradition, on a plaque dedicated to the memory of the liberation of Bergen-Belsen on 15th April 1945.
Witnessing stones laid at the Jewish Cemetery at the British Bergen-Hohne Garrison.
It was a very moving and emotional day and one which we’re sure will stay with all of us for a very long time.
With best wishes,
Karen Pollock MBE
From the collection of poems by Nick Naydler, with paintings by Greg Tricker, entitled For Anne Frank, published by Loxwood Stoneleigh in Bristol in 1991.
‘I hope I shall be able to confide in you’
Into you shall I plunge
I the menagerie of girlhood;
unfurl the chorus of my life —
these secrets let me hurl
upon your white hearing;
I who am schoolgirl and quarry
clown and child, mirror and need.
‘Like a songbird in its cage’
Here do I take this pen
in this my cave of light,
this cage of heaven and hell,
in here unreel my life.I know
what is inside this jail;
this chapel my song is dawnlight;
I must sing.
Poems copywright Nick Naydler
It is inspiring to hear about this new initiative to help us all participate in keeping the memory alive. Please participate — in one minute of witness and solidarity!
The Anne Frank Trust UK has joined forces with Penguin Random House, the UK publishers of Anne Frank’s diary, to mark the 70th anniversary of Anne’s death with a one minute campaign called #notsilent.
Instead of a one minute silence to commemorate the end of Anne Frank’s short life, the British public are invited to record a video of themselves reading a one minute passage from Anne’s inspirational writing, at any time on or after Tuesday 14th April and then to upload to social media channels using hashtag #notsilent.
Celebrities including Eddie Izzard, Naomie Harris, Simon Callow, Roger McGough, David Miliband, Jacqueline Wilson, children’s laureate Malorie Blackman, Michael Buerk, Arlene Phillips, Ray Quinn and actors Russell Tovey, Ceallach Spellman and Jing Lusi have already recorded or filmed their own reading in Anne’s memory.
According to Gillian Walnes, Co-founder and Vice President of the Anne Frank Trust UK, “Poignantly we will never know the exact date Anne died, but we have carefully chosen the date of 14th April as schools will be in session and it’s one day before the anniversary of the liberation of Bergen-Belsen where Anne died at age 15 of hunger and disease. We have a selection of passages suitable for a one minute reading on our website or readers can choose one themselves, or even read something they have written about their own life and hopes.
Through the #notsilent campaign Anne’s voice will resonate loudly around the country and we will stand together against the challenges of prejudice, discrimination and injustices that are still experienced today”.
A #notsilent launch event will be held at the British Library, on Euston Road in London at 9.30 am on Tuesday the 14th April where public readings will take place by Jing Lusi, Arlene Phillips, Friday Download presenter Ceallach Spellman and teenage Anne Frank Ambassadors.
HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED http://www.annefrank.org.uk/notsilent
STEP ONE: Select an extract suitable for a one minute reading. This can either be an extract from Anne’s diary, you can download our selection here, or you can choose your own writing. While you read, either alone, in a group, in your classroom, home, work place or public place, we ask you to film yourself and upload it onto a video sharing platform of your choice (Youtube, Vimeo, Flickr etc) ensuring the video is available to view publicly.
STEP TWO: Send us the link to your video, by posting it on to the Anne Frank Trust’s Facebook (Anne Frank Trust UK) or Twitter (@annefranktrust) pages, using the hash tag #notsilent. Alternatively, you can e-mail your video via we transfer to email@example.com.
STEP THREE: We also ask you to share your one minute clip throughout your social media to encourage others to join in.
Thank you for participating and honouring Anne Frank’s memory in this way. We will together be #notsilent.
An extraordinary event will take place on April 14-15 2015 here in the tranquil and peaceful settings of Somerset. A forced walk will take place to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Bergen Belsen concentration camp in Germany. The walk from Frome in Somerset to Bath has been meticulously designed to mirror the route that Esther Brunstein was forced to march from Hambuhren-Ovelgonne to Bergen Belsen, Germany.
Esther Brunstein survived the death march and the horrors of life in the concentration camps. After liberation, she came to England and gave birth to Lorna Brunstein, now an artist and creator of this memorial project along with Richard White, a walking digital artist.
It is hard to imagine the hardships and life changing traumatic experience that plagued those who experienced the holocaust first hand. Few survivors remain today, but the memories and lessons of one of humanity’s greatest failures must be remembered, lest we forget and history ever repeats itself.
“The line of a Nazi Death March to Belsen transposed to Somerset. A 2 day walk as close as possible to that line. Where the walk intersects the line, interventions. An intimate performative walk-in-witness exploring resonances from the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Belsen.
The Bergen Belsen death camp (previously a German prisoner of war camp before being coverted into a concentration camp to exterminate minorities) saw mass killings of Jews and other targeted minorities by the NAZI regime. For many, execution was a relief from the murderous breakouts of typhus, tuberculosis, typhoid fever, dysentery and starvation. Amongst those who died at Belsen was Anne Frank. She met her death just two weeks before British and Canadian soldiers liberated the camp. Find out more about Belsen here.
Bristol Holocaust Memorial Day is proud to support the Forced Walk honouring Esther. For more information about Bristol HMD, please click here.
Three reasons are outlined by the Hollywood actor and UN ‘Messenger of Peace:’
“In my opinion there are three reasons anti-Semitism is appearing now with renewed vigilance.
The first is that historically, it always grows more virulent whenever and wherever the economy is bad. In a time when income disparity is growing, when hundreds of millions of people live in abject poverty, some find Jews to be a convenient scapegoat rather than looking at the real source of their problems.”
In other words, times of austerity bring a need for people who are suffering and struggling to look for someone else to blame. (Does human nature really fall that low every time?)
“A second root cause of anti-Semitism derives from an irrational and misplaced hatred of Israel. Far too many people see Israel as an apartheid state and blame the people of an entire religion for what, in truth, are internal national-policy decisions. Does anyone really believe that the innocent victims in that kosher shop in Paris and at that bar mitzvah in Denmark had anything to do with Israeli-Palestinian policies or the building of settlements 2,000 miles away?”
In other words, people import the conflict from Israel-Palestine into their cities in Europe due to… perhaps a sense of outrage at perceived victimhood of Palestinians. We should ask ourselves, what moral outrage happens in Europe about Nigeria, China, Darfur, Somalia, Dominican Republic? In any case, the dislike of Israeli politicians transforms into hate crimes against the local Jewish population who had absolutely nothing to do with it, other than perhaps sharing the same religious heritage or culture.
“The third reason is simple demographics. Europe is now home to 25 million to 30 million Muslims, twice the world’s entire Jewish population. Within any religious community that large, there will always be an extremist fringe, people who are radicalized and driven with hatred, while rejecting what all religions need to preach — respect, tolerance and love. We’re now seeing the amplified effects of that small, radicalized element. With the Internet, its virus of hatred can now speed from nation to nation, helping fuel Europe’s new epidemic of anti-Semitism.It is time for each of us to speak up against this hate.”
I disagree. Just because a group is in a small minority (Jews) does not mean it will be hated. And just because a group is large does not necessarily mean than it must give rise to an extremist fringe…
What do you see in his words?
This week the Prime Minister David Cameron and Indian dignitaries unveil a statue of M.K Gandhi in London.
This is apparently the letter sent by Gandhi to try to avert war at a time when Hitler was ambitiously pushing into Eastern Europe:
According to the MKGandhi website “the diametrically opposite ideologies adopted by both the leaders prompted Gandhi to write to Hitler to dissuade him from a bloody campaign against humanity.”
The above first letter was written on July 23, 1939 before the invasion of Poland and the start of World War II, while the second was written on Christmas eve in 1940.
Addressing him as ‘Dear Friend’, Gandhi wrote “Must you pay that price for an object however worthy it may appear to you to be? Will you listen to the appeal of one who has deliberately shunned the method of war not without considerable success?”
The second letter in December 1940, 17 months later, shows Gandhi clearly stating how appalled he is at Hitler’s conduct while not yet being willing to agree with Hitler’s critics that he is a ‘monster.’ Here is an excerpt:
“We have no doubt about your bravery or devotion to your fatherland, nor do we believe that you are the monster described by your opponents. But your own writings and pronouncements and those of your friends and admirers leave no room for doubt that many of your acts are monstrous and unbecoming of human dignity, especially in the estimation of men like me who believe in universal friendliness. Such are your humiliation of Czechoslovakia, the rape of Poland and the swallowing of Denmark. I am aware that your view of life regards such spoliations as virtuous acts. But we have been taught from childhood to regard them as acts degrading humanity. Hence we cannot possibly wish success to your arms.”
to see the full two letters as well as description of the film, ‘Gandhi to Hitler,’ see http://www.mkgandhi.org/newannou/ghitler.htm
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.
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.
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.
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.
according to Wikipedia:
Rudolf Franz Ferdinand Höss (represented in German as Höß, also sometimes spelledHoeß, or Hoess) (25 November 1901 – 16 April 1947) was an SS–Obersturmbannführer (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. He was hanged in 1947 following a trial in Warsaw. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudolf_H%C3%B6ss
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: