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sophie atherton

campaigns & democracy
s.atherton@uea.ac.uk

Holocaust Memorial Day

The 27th of January commemorates Holocaust Memorial Day. 

The Holocaust was the unique genocide perpetrated by Nazi Germany that killed approximately 6 million Jews, and 5 million others including those who were disabled, LGBTQ individuals, people of Roma descent and political opponents.  We at uea(su) believe that the Holocaust should never be forgotten, and that is why we will be supporting all students who wish to be part of this day of recognition.  

In October 2018 I was lucky enough to be given the chance to attend the Lessons of Auschwitz programme which enabled me to find out more about the Holocaust, including visiting two different concentration camps in Poland: Auschwitz and Birkenau. The visit was as difficult as it was rewarding, and it was great to be given such a unique opportunity to learn about why it is so important to remember the Holocaust. Prior to my visit I heard the testimony of a survivor which I will continue to reflect upon. As I reflect, I think about the horrors that affected the victims of the Holocaust and the changes that the Jewish community faced. It still feels impossible to comprehend. The visit changed my perspective of the Holocaust, I recognise that it is incredibly important for us to remember it and continue to visit places like Auschwitz to do so.  

Last year UEA’s History Society also took a trip to Auschwitz and spoke to us about the way this trip helped them to keep the Holocaust in their collective memory. The 2017-18 Secretary of the History Society expressed exactly why it is so important that they took the trip:  

"I think it’s somewhere that everyone should go, even though you hear of the sheer scale of the atrocities it’s impossible to fully understand it until you actually visit the camps". The History society visit reflects this conscious effort by students to bring the Holocaust increasingly outside the boundaries of living memory. 

This year's memorial theme is “Torn From Home” which invites us to explore a wide range of issues, particularly the meaning of “home” for the victims of the Holocaust. Here at uea(su) we will be commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day by supporting our Jewish Society who will be holding a vigil on the 6th of February. Everyone is welcome and the vigil will be proceeded by a survivor’s testimony.   

If you are interested in knowing more about the uea(su) recognising the Holocaust then click here to see our current policy on Holocaust Memorial Day. If you have any questions about how you can get involved with the commemorations, then please do email me at s.atherton@uea.ac.uk.  

 

A poem by Pavel Friedmann, ‘The Butterfly’ in Ed. Hilda Schiff, Holocaust Poetry (New York: St Martin’s Press, 1995), p. 25 

The Butterfly  

He was the last. Truly the last. 

Such yellowness was bitter and blinding 

Like the sun’s tear shattered on stone.  

That was his true colour.  

And how easily he climbed, and how high,  

Certainly, climbing, he wanted  

To kiss the last of my world.  

  

I have been here for seven weeks,  

‘Ghettoized’.  

Who loved me have found me,  

And the branches also of the white chestnut in the yard.  

But I haven’t seen a butterfly here.  

The last one was the last one.  

There are no butterflies, here, in the ghetto.  

  

 

  

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