On Monday 2nd July I had the privilege of attending my 3rd Holocaust Educational Trust Ambassador Conference. I knew this conference would feel different to the previous ones I’ve attended as I still have the keys to my student accommodation and could stay in London the night before, as opposed to getting up at 5am to get the first train down from Lichfield (therefore I wouldn’t be starting the day tired); I also knew my two fellow Ambassadors would not be joining me this year.
Hear My Voice
The tagline of this year’s conference was Hear My Voice. Susan Pollock, Holocaust Survivor took to the stage and the audience fell silent. She spoke of how, at the age of 13 she was sent to Auschwitz and was sent on the death march to Bergen-Belsen as part of Auschwitz’s evacuation which ultimately aimed to cover up any evidence of genocide. She explained how the liberation of Bergen-Belsen did not signify the end of her struggle as she was hospitalised with TB, Typhoid and suffered with extreme malnutrition. Susan had also lost many members of her family including her mother who was gassed on arrival at Auschwitz; her father she never saw again. She believed that people weren’t ready to listen to the experiences of survivors immediately after the war, however she wanted people to know what happened. Susan regrettably acknowledged that Anti-Semitism has not disappeared and made it clear that it is our job, as Ambassadors of the Holocaust Educational Trust, to use these lessons from the past to help shape the future.
Next to speak was Joe Collins, one of the Trust’s Regional Ambassadors. He detailed the testimony he was witness to, of a woman called Janine, through which he could see and hear the pain she was still in after losing her family. Joe said it was poignant emotion which reminds us of the people, as opposed to the statistics, of the Holocaust. He drew attention to the fact that we are the last generation who will be able to engage with survivor’s testimony as what is tentatively still within living history, falls into distant history. In a way, this has largely already happened as we will never know the full stories of those who were murdered. In fact, the stories we do hear are not representative of the Holocaust. There are still two million unnamed unidentified victims. Joe concluded his speech by pledging to the survivors in front of him that he would do everything in his power to make sure that their stories, along with others, are told and most importantly listened to.