Many survivors and their families now live or have lived in Yorkshire. These include people who during the Second World War were refugees, in hiding, in ghettos, or in concentration and death camps, as well as those who escaped on the Kindertransport.
Their stories are some of the most important accounts of one of the most significant events of the 20th century, yet at present have no permanent home. This new project will provide a space at Heritage Quay within the University of Huddersfield, for the stories to be preserved, interpreted and explored, and will create a lasting and permanent legacy for survivors and their families.
Thanks to support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the project will deliver a new Holocaust Heritage and Learning Centre, set to attract at least 20,000 annual visitors. The physical heritage of the survivors – testimonies, literature, artefacts and evidence of Nazi persecution - will be secured in perpetuity, and explained and interpreted with new displays and exhibitions.
The centre will bring alive the legacy of Holocaust survivors in Yorkshire. It will cover how it impacted not only on survivors but also on their second and third generations such as sons, daughters and their children. A vital role of the centre will be to allow these subsequent generations to continue to learn about the Holocaust and why and how it happened.
People are at the heart of this project. Tours, school and community seminars and teacher education provision will help people learn more about the Holocaust, and its impact on the people of Yorkshire, the UK and the world. Volunteer guides will learn new skills by assisting in touring exhibitions, at seminars and with new technology. Schoolchildren will have opportunities to use creative and performing arts to interpret the stories held at the centre. A new website will further increase access to the centre and its archives to worldwide audiences, and the archive will provide a space for survivors and their families to deposit materials in the future.
Lilian Black, HSFA Chair, said: “The HSFA is delighted with the decision by HLF to support the establishment of a permanent Holocaust Learning Centre for the North of England. The legacy of the Holocaust survivors in Yorkshire is now secure and will be made available to pupils, students and the wider community for teaching and learning. There has never been a more important time for us all to work together to combat all forms of persecution – our membership knows only too well where discrimination leads and it is their dearest wish to make sure our past is not our future.
"The breadth of support we have received has been amazing, ranging from individuals, companies, charitable trusts and of course our partners and the University of Huddersfield. Thank you everybody for making this a reality – it is an expression of our faith in humanity and that good will prevail ultimately”.
Fiona Spiers, Head of HLF Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “Holocaust survivors in Yorkshire bear a living witness to some of the most significant and horrific moments of the 20th century. We are delighted that National Lottery players are able to support the creation of this centre to provide a permanent legacy for survivors, as well as a space for people to reflect on these events and learn from them.”