For the dead and the living, we must bear witness

So its been three years since I was part of an amazing program called The Holocaust Educational Trust. I was made and still am an ambassador for this great organisation. This also means three years ago I went to visit the Auschwitz – Birkenau camp on a visit that was part of the project. Since then my interest in the Holocaust and the individual stories that formed the holocaust have transfixed me.

This year has been a whirlwind, with my business, university and just the growth and struggles in my personal life. As a consequence my research into this crucial piece of human history had been side tracked. However today for the first time, I went to visit the Imperial War Museum with my family.

The building was phenomenal, very cathartic and oozing with historical relevance. Spitfires and more suspended in the main hall of the building as you enter, the balconies littered with army vehicles, boats and equipment used during the first and second world wars.

We walked around and the artefacts were incredible. Seeing a real cockpit of the Doncaster, with all the gears and knobs inside on show and the outside in pretty good condition considering its age and use.

Now the most moving part of the whole visit was the Holocaust exhibition. This brought back so many memories of my visit three years ago it really was emotional. Even though I have done a lot of research I still learnt so much from the artefacts on show. The place was laid out in order, from the casual racism of the Nazi Party to the deliberate racial acts put in place once the Nazi party gained power in Germany, to the Ghettos, and to the ‘resettlement’, all the way to eventual liberation. The most interesting part of this journey for me was the Ghettos and the Resettlement. I never realised to the extent of how the Ghettos in the 30s really acted as mini economies, with restaurants and cafes still open, yet unaffordable to the Jewish population, and other undesirables in the Nazi viewpoint, to buy or eat. Also the staggering statistic that 80% of food was gained from smuggling and begging. This stunned me, I knew they were not fed adequately and that this did happen but the number of 80% really blew me away and put the whole thing into a new perspective.

The term resettlement upset me. As next to it was a sample of belongings that I saw three years ago at the Auschwitz camp. What reality upset me was seeing house keys and glasses. The keys in particular because If you knew you were going to die, why would you bring your keys? It clearly shows they were told so many lies and that the resettlement gimmick was merely a ploy to get these poor innocent people to do what they say, as I’m sure if they said their actual intent, they would have faced mass revolt and slaughter.

This period of history will never fail to interest me. I find it so important that the story of the holocaust remains alive as unfortunately, with the world seeing more and more hate. The rise of anti Semitic language and violence, the rise in violence against Islam and Muslims, the rise in violence against the LGBT community and the rise is extreme right and fascism. Not to mention a president who does not believe in climate change and is intent on reversing all societal progress of the last fifty years, this story of the past must be told now more than ever.

I shall be posting more posts like this as I want to keep the story alive and keep researching more and deeper into this rich history, as underneath the numbers, there are so many individual stories to be told. Some, even still alive to tell the story, something we have such a privilege over future generations who won’t have that privilege.