Since 2001 the UK has had a national day of commemoration and remembrance for those who suffered as a result of Nazi persecution and subsequent genocides. Now known as Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) the day coincides with the UN’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day and brings together commemorative events from across the world. We were pleased to welcome people from across the county and country to the Centre’s event last Tuesday.

HMD is commemorated on the 27th January as it was on this day in 1945 that the largest Nazi death camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau, was liberated by Soviet troops. In fact 2015 marks 70 years since this camp, located to the west of Krakow, was liberated and 70 years since the end of the Second World War. With 2015 holding such significance in Holocaust commemoration the theme of this year’s HMD was ‘Keep the memory alive’.

Inspired by Iby Knill’s poem ‘I was there’, the theme highlights the importance of continued Holocaust education in the hope that future generations will continue to be aware of and learn from this period in history. Survivor testimony enriches Holocaust education by demonstrating the uniqueness of individual experience and challenging us to consider how the lessons of The Holocaust are relevant to us today. For example, what can The Holocaust teach us about celebrating difference in today’s society? How does The Holocaust inform our attitudes to others? Testimony, it would seem, is key to ‘keep(ing) the memory alive’.

In light of this we are delighted to announce the launch of our new interactive testimony project. In collaboration with partners including UK creative design consultancy Bright White Ltd, Professor Eunice Ma, USC Shoah Foundation, the Institute of Creative Technologies (ICT) and Conscience Display we will be working with a number of Holocaust survivors to document and preserve their testimonies for all. Survivors will be interviewed and filmed over a number of days in order to record their testimony, from their memories of family and friends to their experiences of the rise of Nazism.

With the use of 3D filming and natural language processing the project is unique as the audience will be able to interact with, as well as listen to, the survivor. The audience will be able to ask questions as if the survivor is sitting in front of them, thus preserving the invaluable experience that visitors to the Centre currently have. You can read more about the project here.  

We hope that this project will continue to enrich Holocaust education as well as contribute to ‘keep(ing) the memory alive’.