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Beyond camps and forced labour conference

Avinoam Patt from the University of Hartford presenting his paper ‘ “Three lines in history”: writing about resistance in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust.’

On the third and last day of the conference the themes ranged from visual testimonies, and repatriation and resettlement, to the legacy of the euthanasia programmes and medical experiments, and the uses of the International Tracing Service (ITS) digital collection.

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Beyond camps logo

‘Beyond Camps and Forced Labour: Current International Research on Survivors of Nazi Persecution’
Imperial War Museum
7 – 9 January 2015

 

The second day of the conference promised, and gave, a very full programme of 32 papers across nine panels. Papers touched on repatriation and resettlement, children, compensation, early testimonies, remembrance, displaced persons and forced labour.

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Commentary on Day One

The opening plenary session of this conference focused on the world’s newest Jewish Museum – Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Warsaw.

Barbara Kirschenblatt-Gimblett, New York University presenting (right). Chair Suzanne Bardgett (left). The slide shows Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Warsaw.

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Image of Professor David Cesarani with Professor Paul Shapiro of USHMM

Professor David Cesarani (right) with Professor Paul Shapiro of USHMM at the Beyond camps and forced labour conference held at IWM London, 4-6 January 2012

On 4-6 January 2012, Imperial War Museum London hosted the fourth international conference in the Beyond camps and forced labour series. Professor David Cesarani of Royal Holloway, University of London, co-organiser of Beyond camps and forced labour guest blogs here about the key themes which emerged from the conference:

‘It is hard to sum up the themes that were explored in the conference, let alone find patterns common to all the papers. But I think that some distinct threads did emerge. One was the discovery of new archival sources or the re-examination of neglected collections.

The largest and most important of these is the vast archive of the International Tracing Service of the International Committee of the Red Cross at Bad Arolsen. Thanks largely to the persistence of Professor Paul Shapiro of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum we now have a good idea of the staggering riches that were kept locked away by the ITS for decades, and the process of making them available to researchers is now well underway. The many sub-collections will offer new insights into the existence of inmates in the concentration camps, the death marches, and the experiences of refugees and survivors after liberation. One of the most extraordinary collections was described by the new ITS historian, Susanne Urban. It comprises 1,200 responses to questionnaires sent out to survivors of death marches – amongst the earliest, most immediate testimony every recorded. The ITS records will help historians to map and analyse population movements after 1945, including the influx of former DPs into the UK. It will take decades and many PhD theses to even scrape the surface of this treasure trove.

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Image of Alicia Melamed Adams' painting Two frightened children

Alicia Melamed Adams, Two Frightened Children, c 1963, Imperial War Museum IWM ART 17458

The Muswell Hill studio is flooded with sunlight and all around are paintings of flowers in radiant reds, yellows and blues.   I have come to visit Alicia Melamed Adams, the Holocaust survivor whose paintings and whose story I wrote up as one of the chapters of Justice, Politics and Memory in Europe after the Second World War published this summerWe did the interviews in this studio a year ago, sifting through her old family photographs and going over the details of her family’s horrendous wartime ordeal.

Alicia was born Alicia Goldschlag in Boryslav, in Galicia – in Eastern Poland –  to parents who gave her and her brother Josef a happy childhood.  But during the Second World War the Nazis imposed a reign of terror, with random shootings and disappearances a daily occurrence. Alicia’s parents and brother were all murdered by the Nazis.  Her brother Josef – who had ambitions to become an architect – died in the Janowska camp in Lviv in 1942. Her parents were shot.

 

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