This is little Susi – one of the few, precious items that Hedi Argent took with her when her family fled Nazi persecution under the annexation of Austria. Hedi explains “We had to leave all our belongings, all our savings, and jewellery, anything that was of value [...] Little Susi will always remain very important in my life because in a way for me, she symbolises not only what we brought with us when we came, which was very little, but what we left behind, which was a great deal.”

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Survivors of the Holocaust (Jewish and non-Jewish) have entrusted hundreds of such artefacts to The National Holocaust Centre and Museum for safe-keeping. These items, when combined with personal testimony, tell powerful stories of loss, courage and survival. The Museum’s remit is to preserve, protect and educate.

Complementing these very personal contributions are also items donated by amateur collectors, historians and, in some cases those associated with the British liberating forces. The variety of objects that are collected leads to a more full and informed picture of the Holocaust.

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These artefacts are vital evidence of the truth of the Holocaust – a truth we cannot afford to forget, a truth that must be safeguarded for future generations.

The challenge

2018 marks the 80th anniversary of key moments in the history of the Holocaust. In November 1938, The November Pogrom (also known as the Night of Broken Glass / Kristallnacht) was a turning point in the escalation of violence and intimidation towards Jews. In December of that same year, the first Kinder arrived in the UK, such was the desperation of parents to protect their children from what was to come.

With the passing of time, many of the artefacts have inevitably become old and fragile, but their legacy lives on.

There are three ways in which NHCM intends to safeguard their stories:

1) We will undertake painstaking, expert conservation of artefacts to ensure their survival for future generations.
2) We will methodically research each artefact’s provenance to support the narrative behind its story.
3) We will create a digital archive of each artefact (catalogued, translated, transcribed and supported with relevant evidence), so that these stories are protected and readily accessible for future generations.

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Each of these steps is time-consuming and requires specialist expertise. This comes at a cost, but it is a cost worth paying if we are to create a robust evidence base that will withstand challenge. We owe this to the survivor generation who will soon no longer be with us.

How you can help

You can be part of preserving the truth of the Holocaust.The need for this is urgent. We need to act now before the artefacts degrade and are lost forever. We also need to use these precious few years to gather survivor testimony and provenance – their living history – before it is too late.

Our project will invite the public – NHCM supporters and other interested parties – to contribute to safeguarding these artefacts and the survivor experience that they represent. It will be an online campaign that will be launched in November to coincide with the anniversary of the first Kindertransport arrivals in the UK.

We are delighted to announce that The Raven trust has donated £10,000 to launch this appeal. We are aiming to raise £30,000 which would enable us to comprehensively conserve, research and archive 75-100 artefacts.

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Your contribution would make an enormous difference to the success of this initiative, and therefore to our important work in safeguarding survivor stories.