The Holocaust Exhibition was ten years old last year, and giving talks about its impact is a rewarding thing to do. Visitor figures – at 7-800 a day – are still high. The subject has become mainstream after years of being marginalised, and films, tv programmes and books still appear each month with new slants, and new questions.
Today I am talking to the Sheffield branch of the Association of Jewish Refugees. I know one of the members well – Inga Joseph, who came as a Kindertransport refugee in 1938 and it is through her that I was invited along. Inga gave the IWM two dolls which she brought with her as a child refugee from Vienna – Trixie and Peter – and has written up her early life in three highly readable books written under the name of Ingrid Jacoby.
Giving my talk, I cannot help thinking that the audience have the more interesting stories to tell. Everyone started life in pre-war Europe – and was forced to flee, in many cases coming as child refugees like Inga.
Afterwards I chat to a camp survivor and learn that as a child she spent time in Mechelen internment camp - the former barracks in Belgium from which between 1942 and 1944 nearly 25,000 Jews were deported to the Nazi death camps. I ask if I can put the Mechelen museum authorities in touch with her – I know they are gathering testimonies from former survivors for their new exhibition.