Holocaust Memorial Day
This year the commemoration for Holocaust Memorial Day was held at The Lakes School at Troutbeck Bridge. This is the site of the former Calgarth Estate and two years ago, Ben Helfgott, an Honorary President of the Holocaust Memorial Day, planted a small oak tree in the grounds.
He was one of the child Holocaust Survivors who came to this Estate in August 1945 and on 27 January 2017, a plaque was unveiled which gave details of the children’s stay.
The event was attended by survivors of Auschwitz, together with families and friends and Tim Farron MP. An a short meeting was also held beforehand inside The Lakes School.
Holocaust & Memory Reframed Breath Becomes Air – Ian Walton
A preview was held on 8 September 2016 for the opening of an exhibition/installation by the Lake District artist, Ian Walton. This was the second in a series of exhibitions that explore aspects of Post Holocaust arts and culture.
Trevor Avery, Director of the Lake District Holocaust Project, reflected on Ian’s work poignantly:
“It has a quality that has always spoken to me in some acute way. It is a visual representation of the many aspects that I have dealt with and come across for many years now, a kind of melancholia that is a necessary part of coming to terms with events of enormous tragedy“.
’45 Aid Society Reunion
We were delighted to attend the 71st Reunion of the ’45 Aid Society in London in May 2016.
The ’45 Aid Society – Holocaust Survivors’ was set up in 1963 by the first child Survivors who arrived in the UK in 1945 – some of whom stayed in Windermere . “It’s mission has been to remember those who were lost, to help their members who needed help; to teach the lessons of the Holocaust; to spread the message of tolerance; and to help others more widely”.
Those Survivors who were able, together with their children and grandchildren, attended the Reunion. A special presentation was made to Ben Helfgott, who is now retiring after many years as Chairman of the Society.
Holocaust Survivors’ Centre
In response to their kind invitation, we visited the Holocaust Survivors’ Centre in North London, where a number of the children, who had stayed in the Lake District in 1945, were able to meet with us. It was a rare opportunity for those at the LDHP Project to talk with these Survivors, their wives and second and third generations.
The Holocaust Survivor’s Centre is the only centre in the UK that was designed specifically for Holocaust Survivors. It provides a programme of “social, cultural and therapeutic events”.
Holocaust Memorial Day
27 January 2016
On the 27th January we marked HMD with a special event at The Lakes School at Troutbeck Bridge. The school is on the site of the former Calgarth Estate where the children stayed in 1945.
A moving tribute to Alfred Huberman, one of the remarkable child Holocaust Survivors who came to the Lake District directly from the concentration camps in 1945, played a central role in HMD 2016 commemorations in Windermere.
Over seven hundred children, staff and guests at the Lakes School saw the launch of the Alfred Huberman Writing Award for schools as part of the HMD 2016 commemorations. Alfred Huberman’s wife Shirley and their daughter Caroline travelled from Brighton and were at the event. They spoke movingly of their father and of his time both at Windermere and his later life. The family has been very supportive of the LDHP and their support has enabled the writing Award initiative. They see it as a perfect way to continue Alfred’s work as he spoke to many students during his lifetime about the Holocaust.
A powerful introduction to the Holocaust and Genocide by Deputy Head Teacher Mick Gallop was followed by meaningful words from Sylvia Emmot, Chair of South Lakeland District Council.
Trevor Avery, Director of Lake District Holocaust Project offered a compelling description of the special significance of the connection between the Lakes School site and the three hundred Jewish orphans who arrived in August 1945.
The school was built on the former site of Calgarth Estate, a wartime factory workers housing scheme, and it was to this estate that the children came and stayed for what was described as the beginning of their “recuperation”.
Trevor spoke of the essential importance of Holocaust Memorial Day and Holocaust Education and how the lessons that we can learn from the horrors of the Holocaust can help us all as we face up to challenges of the present day. He held up the inspirational example of the Jewish children who arrived without anything other than hope, and how the young people of today carry that hope into the future.
A further ceremony was held at the home of the Lake District Holocaust Project in Windermere and was attended by people from far and wide.
The 70th anniversary of the arrival of the child Holocaust survivors in the Lake District on 14 August 1945.
The arrival to Windermere of nine of the existing ‘child Holocaust survivors’ to commemorate this anniversary was particularly memorable and especially moving for those who work on the LDHP Project.
A marquee was erected in the grounds of the library and guests, in addition to the survivors, included their families, wives of survivors now deceased, and other second and third generation guests. The Rt. Hon. Sir Eric Pickles MP (the Prime Minister’s new Special Envoy for post Holocaust issues), Suzanne Bardgett (Head of Research at the IWM, London), Downing Street Secretariat, representatives from the Jewish communities, and many other dignitaries and members of the public also attended.
Moving speeches were made by Sir Eric, Suzanne Bardgett, Ben Helfgott MBE and Trevor Avery (Director of the Lake District Holocaust Project). Tom Gardner a former student at The Lakes School, read a letter that Prince Charles had specially written for the anniversary event.
Below are a small selection of some of the photographs taken of the Survivors at the event
Kendal and Lake District UK Holocaust Memorial Day
26 January 2015.
“Seventy Candles for Seventy Years”
One of the primary aims of Holocaust Memorial Day is to “ensure that the horrendous crimes, racism and victimisation committed during the Holocaust are neither forgotten nor repeated, whether in Europe or elsewhere in the world” – Holocaust Memorial Day Trust Statement of Purpose
A commemorative service was held at the Birdcage in Kendal followed by a concert in the Town Hall. To mark this highly poignant memorial, Joe Berger, one of the child survivors, lit a candle, designed by Anish Kapoor, before the concert. This formed part of a national “Seventy Candles for Seventy Years” initiative, which drew together Holocaust Memorial Day events across Britain.
The candle had been presented earlier in the month to Trevor Avery and Councillor Westwood by Ben Helfgott who especially travelled up to Kendal.
Ben is Chairman of the 45 Aids Society for Holocaust Survivors, President of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and the Yad Vashem Board of Deputies of British Jews. He has also been awarded an MBE for services to the community and the Polish Knights Cross, Order of Merit, and Commanders Cross, Order of Merit of the republic of Poland for his work of reconciliation between Poles and Jews. Ben was one of the child Holocaust Survivors who arrived in the Lake District in August 1945.
A report by Joe Shute was featured in the Daily Telegraph on 27 January 2015. This tells part of Ben’s story and that of Arek Hersh, another of the child Survivors.
The theme for Holocaust Memorial Day was ‘Keep the Memory Alive’.
The following is a piece written by Tom Gardner from the Lakes School, Troutbeck Bridge about the Holocaust – The Holocaust
A commemorative service was held for the second year at the Birdcage in Kendal. Councillor Westwood welcomed the public who attended and the speakers were Roger Bingham and Professor Stanley Henig. Keelan Hardy from the Lakes School at Troutbeck Bridge recited a poem he had composed about the Holocaust – The child who didn’t know
The Birdcage was also decorated by the Lakes School with a bunting which consisted of photograms of objects which were memorable to the children. The public tied white ribbons to represent peace and an end to violence.
The service was followed in the afternoon by the lighting of the candle by Joe Berger and a free concert in the Town Hall . Opening speeches were made by Councillor Westwood and Rose Smith from LDHP, who also welcomed Joe and guest speaker, Susan Stein. Susan is the author of Etty an adaptation of Etty Hillesum’s diaries and letters which has been performed throughout America and internationally. Etty died in Auschwitz aged 29. She poignantly spoke of Etty and read excerpts from some of her prose.
A memorable and most moving performance by the classical and inspirational pianist, Anthony Hewitt followed. Anthony played pieces by Polish Composers including Viktor Ullmann who died at Auschwitz, against a backdrop of film from the Lake District Holocaust Project archive.
The following is an excerpt from the rehearsal. The film in the backdrop is from Auschwitz Birkenau.
The event was filmed by Border Television –
and reference was also made to the child Holocaust Survivors by Granada Television –
Honorary Fellowship for Ben Helfgott: University of Cumbria 16 July
We were delighted to attend the Graduation Ceremony at Carlisle Cathedral when Ben Helfgott was made an Honorary Fellow. Ben is Chairman of the 45 Aids Society for Holocaust Survivors, President of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and the Yad Vashem Board of Deputies of British Jews. He has also been awarded an MBE for services to the community and the Polish Knights Cross, Order of Merit, and Commanders Cross, Order of Merit of the republic of Poland for his work of reconciliation between Poles and Jews.
Ben was also accompanied by his wife Arza. He was delighted that Cumbria University chose to honour him; he always remembers his time spent at Troutbeck Bridge near Windermere and has been of great support and help to the LDHP. He spoke movingly of his desire for tolerance and peace and rejection of hatred and revenge. He received a long standing ovation from parents, graduates and academics.
We attended one of the largest ever gatherings of Survivors of the Holocaust in the UK, which took place in London on 5 May 2014. A special consultation event was part of the Holocaust Commission that has been set up with cross party agreement. LDHP attendance in London followed our attendance at a similar event at the Imperial War Museum North in early spring.
The event in London was organised to discuss what form future memorialisation of the Holocaust should take in Britain and was hosted by Natasha Kaplinsky with many politicians and special guests in attendance.
Others in attendance included people who had survived the concentration camps, individuals who escaped to Britain on the Kindertransport and those who were hidden from the Nazis as children. Our friend and supporter, Ben Helfgott, Chair of 45 Aid Society and one of the children who came to Windermere, is a key member of the Holocaust Commission and we were delighted to meet with him and his family at the London event.
Holocaust Memorial Day 2014
The first Holocaust Memorial Day event “The Journey from Hell to Paradise” was held in Kendal on 23 January 2014. The event was organised by South Lakeland District Council, together with the Lake District Holocaust Project and very special thanks must go to Chairman Evelyn Westwood for initiating this.
Holocaust Memorial Day events are held across the world at this time in order that the global community can share the memory of the millions who were murdered in the Holocaust, those who survived and subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur, in order to challenge hatred and persecution in communities today.
A commemorative service was held at the Birdcage in Kendal, with speeches by Councillor Westwood, Trevor Avery and Roger Bingham. Professor Stanley Henig, Deputy Pro-Chancellor of Lancaster University, recited a Kaddish. Children at Settlebeck Primary School, Sedbergh and Rylands Primary School, Lancaster had written and drawn on labels which were hung at the Birdcage and onlookers were invited to also participate in writing their thoughts and wishes for future peace.
Later an event was held in the Town Hall for invited guests where Sue Bermange, daughter of a child Holocaust Survivor, Bob Obuchowski, talked about her father’s life and included anecdotes from his time at Windermere.
An installation produced by Trevor Avery and the Lake District Holocaust Project included a large scale projection of a rare archive film (courtesy of the Imperial War Museum) of the three hundred Jewish child Holocaust Survivors waiting at Prague airfield for their flight in 1945, together with some display boards.
Opening of “The Paradise Route”
Richard Demarco CBE and European Citizen of the Year 2014, spoke to an engrossed audience at a special gathering in Windermere that came together to commemorate “The Paradise Route” Exhibition.
Spoken by Richard Demarco at the gathering:
“Out of the horror of the Holocaust, there came a well-nigh miraculous episode involving the transportation of children from the world of the concentration camp being given a vision of paradise in the form of the beautiful and magical world surrounding Lake Windermere. These children were given a chance of a new life in England. The exhibition programmes devised over recent years have enlarged and dignified the cultural life of Cumbria and, in the wider context, the cultural life of Britain in dialogue with Poland in the post-Second World War decades.”
Opening of “Janusz Korczak” Exhibition
Ben Helfgott MBE was invited to open the “Janusz Korcszak” Exhibition at LDHP on 24 September 2013. Korczak was a Polish Jewish educator who devoted his life to the needs and plight of children.
Ben is one of the three hundred child Holocaust Survivors who arrived in the Lake District on 14 August 1945 and has been of great support to the LDHP.
His talk focussed on Janusz Korczak who had devoted his life to the needs and plights of children. He spoke movingly about his deep admiration for him. He suggested that Korczak was “a model that can move and inspire. Korczak advocated and practised truth and humility and a great deal more and therein lies his greatness”.
Tim Farron MP, who attended the opening together with the Chairman of the South Lakeland District Council Evelyn Westwood and other Council members from SLDC and Windermere Town Council, said “it was a privilege beyond words to meet Ben and to welcome him back up here”. He acknowledged the importance of the Lake District Holocaust Project and its role in endeavouring to ensure that the “appalling era of the Holocaust” never happened again.