January 27th is Holocaust Memorial Day; it is the day that marks the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration camp.
Between 1941-1945, the Nazis attempted to systematically kill all of Europe’s Jews in a process now known as the Holocaust. By the end of the Holocaust roughly six million members of the Jewish community had been killed in ghettos, mass shootings and concentration camps. In addition to Jews, Nazi theories of racial supremacy, saw the persecution of Gypsies, Slavic and black people.
Though the day functions as a time for everyone to remember the millions of people killed in the Holocaust and during Nazi Persecution and honor those that survived, it is also a day which recognizes that racial genocide is not a practice of the past. January 27th allows us to think about the topic of racism more widely and the ways in which it has been practiced in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur. You can learn more about Holocaust Memorial Day from the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, the charity which promotes and supports Holocaust Memorial Day in the UK.
The Forum is commemorating this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day with an exhibit on Anne Frank and her family. The exhibit, which opened on January 20th and will remain open until February 6th, provides an insight into the life of Anne Frank and her sister Margot, as captured in a collection of poignant photographs taken by their father, Otto Frank. Supporting activities will also take place in the Millennium Library and a number of city venues. Please see the link for more information on local events: http://www.theforumnorwich.co.uk/events/anne-frank-and-family
As a living memorial dedicated to the relationship forged between the American servicemen and the people of East Anglia during WWII, the 2nd Air Division Memorial is also hosting a series of events—mainly with school children—to help highlight the ways in which histories interweave and the lasting implications of these connections in the millennial century.
Last week commenced our series of school visits from surrounding primary schools. These groups were given a tour of the Memorial library, introduced to the more localized history of WWII here in Norfolk and given the opportunity to act as historians as they were presented with a series of primary sources and wartime memorabilia from our collection.
Many of the young students were keen to share the oral histories gathered from grandparents and great-grandparents about their experiences during the war.
The memorabilia presented the opportunity for us to discuss the wider ideologies spurring the war, particularly its attack on the Jewish community.This was achieved most pointedly with a discussion of our collection of dog tags from American servicemen. Dog tags were worn by servicemen for identification purposes. In the lower right-hand corner a letter standing for the individual’s religion is etched on the tag: P for Protestant; C for Catholic or H for Hebrew. Many Jewish Americans served in WWII and many opted to hide the fact that they were Jewish by inscribing a P on their dog tag instead.
If you would like to learn more about America’s connection to the Holocaust, Jewish Americans or WWII more broadly, the 2nd Air Division Memorial Library has an extensive collection of books that can certainly cater to research pursuits or general interests. Below are some of our most relevant titles but please feel free to search the library catalog for more specific interests.