Friday 25 January 2013

Holocaust memorial

Dr Martin Stern’s account of his horrific experience in Nazi-occupied Netherlands gripped all those in attendance at the University of Northampton.

Martin’s experience as a child, being arrested by plain-clothes Dutchmen and subsequently handed over to the Nazis was a harrowing tale. Along with his one-year old sister, Martin was sent to the town of Theresienstadt in Nazi-occupied Netherlands. The year was 1944.

Martin’s story is untypical because the usual scenario for a Jew living in Nazi Germany would have been death.

Thank God I was not sent to Auschwitz, only a few will be picked for work and you have to be at least 17 years old for that. My life expectancy there would have been a mere few hours.”

Dr Martin Stern, Holocaust survivor
Dr Stern addressed students and esteemed guests as part of Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD). The event was held on Thursday at the University’s Park campus to remember those affected by the atrocities during the Holocaust, and subsequent genocides including Cambodia, Rwanda and Kosovo.

The commemorative gathering was set in motion by the Mayor of Northampton delivering his opening address at the Anne Frank/Stephen Lawrence tree, followed by readings led by the University’s multi-faith Chaplaincy.

The theme for HMD 2013 is Communities Together: Build a Bridge. The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust requests people to remember how hatred and persecution has led some to believe others to be subhuman. To learn from the courage of those who survived and for it to truly never happen again.

The event also featured a talk by leading genocide historian Professor Aristotle Kallis who shed light on Holocaust denial by the Nazis. According to him, a concentration camp, Treblinka where nearly 800, 000 people were killed was dismantled in 1943 in attempt to erase the evidence of mass murder sites. Bodies were exhumed and burned.

It was no longer a genocide, it was omnicide. An attempt to completely eliminate and annihilate the entire Jewish community. The camp is fading, the number of witnesses are diminishing. But it is important to register and reinstate them in humanity.”

Professor Aristotle Kallis
The well-attended HMD event ended with University of Northampton students reflecting on the Holocaust and genocide.

Article by: Vishalene Sivaraman

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