A centre that tells the harrowing yet inspirational stories of the north’s Holocaust survivors is bidding to win £10,000 in the National Lottery’s 25th anniversary awards.
The Holocaust Exhibition and Learning Centre, located at the University of Huddersfield, beat competition from more than 700 organisations to reach the final of the Best Heritage Project category. The winner will be determined by a public vote with the result announced at a ceremony broadcast on national television in November.
Since it opened in September 2018, with the help of lottery funding, more than 5,000 visitors from schools, groups and the wider community have experienced the centre’s interactive exhibition ‘Through Our Eyes’.
The exhibition tells the story of the Holocaust through the experiences of 16 survivors and refugees who made new lives in the north of England. The culmination of more than 20 years’ work by the Holocaust Survivors’ Friendship Association (HSFA), the project shares the traumatic memories of the Holocaust through photographs, digital testimony, artefacts and immersive film.
The centre – the only resource of its kind in the north – delivers learning and community programmes that promote understanding and highlight the consequences of prejudice, extremism and intolerance. Lilian Black, chair of the centre and the HSFA, said the exhibition was both a testimony to the strength of the human spirit in adversity – and a warning for the future.
The centre was created with £1.1 million of funding, £604,000 of which came from National Lottery funds.
Her father, Eugene Black, was a Holocaust survivor who was persecuted at Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora. After many years of silence, Lilian accompanied her father in 2005 to Bergen-Belsen on his first visit to Germany since liberation and coming to Britain to marry Annie in 1949. Eugene then began to speak in schools, sharing his experiences of persecution, survival and making a new life. His message was clear: live and let live and never give up.
Lilian said: “Although my father didn’t live to see the centre built, he saw all the plans and I know he would feel we did justice to the memory of all families who were murdered in the Holocaust. He felt education about it was just so important for today, so he would be thrilled to know about our programmes with schools.
“We were delighted to learn that the centre has been shortlisted as a finalist in the heritage category of the 25th Birthday National Lottery Awards. Lottery funding played a key role in creating a permanent archive of history from over 70 Holocaust survivors and refugees and open a new free-to-visit centre dedicated to sharing these stories.”