British Christian army chaplains like the Reverend TJ Stretch performed a heart-rending role in the liberation of Bergen-Belsen and other concentration camps, burying the dead and ministering to the survivors. But what Church attitudes preceded this? And what were the Church’s theological and practical responses to the Holocaust in the years after? Why did many Christians chose not to oppose, or even participate in, the crimes of the Holocaust?

Presented by Rob Thompson, National Holocaust Centre and Museum Trustee and former Senior Programme Manager for the Council of Christians and Jews.

Guests include Dr Chad McDonald, curator of an award-winning exhibition about James Parkes, the Anglican clergyman whose activism helped encourage a Christian re-evaluation of Judaism, and Ruth Barnett MBE, a Kindertransportee of Jewish and Christian heritage and many decades experience in Holocaust education.

We're thrilled to welcome our co-founder Dr Stephen Smith MBE. After visiting Israel in the 1980s, Stephen's life-changing examination of Christian responsibility surrounding the Holocaust led to the founding of Beth Shalom - now the National Holocaust Centre and Museum.

Stephen & James Smith on the roof of the partly built Memorial Hall, 1993.


You can watch this webcast live or via catch-up using the link you will receive by email after booking.

This event is 1 of a 3-part series. To buy a discounted ticket for all three, click here.


Meet our speakers:

Dr Stephen D Smith MBE, USC Shoah Foundation

Stephen is co-founder of the National Holocaust Centre and Museum. He was the inaugural chair of the UK Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, project director for the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre in Rwanda and co-founder of the Aegis Trust for Genocide Prevention. Stephen received his doctorate in Theology from the University of Birmingham in 2000. He holds the UNESCO Chair on Genocide Education, and is currently Professor of Religion at the University of Southern California and Executive Director of the USC Shoah Foundation.

Ruth Barnett MBE

Ruth is a long standing friend and supporter of the National Holocaust Centre and Museum. Born in Berlin in 1935 to Jewish and Christian parents, she came to England on the Kindertransport in 1939. Ruth and her brother lived in a succession of homes over the next decade. They were reunited with their parents after the war but Ruth found returning to life in Germany difficult and chose to live in the UK. She converted to Judaism when she married in 1958. In 2000 she was awarded an MBE for her services to Holocaust education.

Dr Chad McDonald, University of Southampton and Manchester Metropolitan University

Chad is a Visiting Fellow at the Parkes Institute, University of Southampton, and Academic Skills Tutor for Arts and Humanities at Manchester Metropolitan University. He is the curator of the award-winning travelling exhibition “James Parkes and the Age of Intolerance”, which has visited Christian, Jewish, and civic venues throughout Britain. Chad is also the Social Media Editor for the journal Patterns of Prejudice.


Rob Thompson, Trustee of The National Holocaust Centre and Museum

Rob is a PhD student at UCL’s school of Hebrew and Jewish Studies. His masters degree focused on the experience of British Christian chaplains at Bergen Belsen concentration camp, and his doctorate is exploring wider Church and Jewish relations. He is also a visiting fellow at the Parkes Institute, University of Southampton and a Methodist local preacher. He was formerly a senior programme manager at the Council of Christians and Jews.

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