Hartlepool historians reflect on horrors of the Holocaust

Ninety-year-old Holocaust survivor Gabriele Keenaghan told the story of how her father was murdered by the Nazis.

Ninety-year-old Holocaust survivor Gabriele Keenaghan told the story of how her father was murdered by the Nazis.

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Dozens of people took part in a day of reflection and education about the Holocaust.

A group of dedicated young Hartlepool historians, supported by Hartlepool Borough Council Youth Services and Hartlepool College of Further Education, played host to the event to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.

The group lit coloured candles, each representing a different group of people persecuted by the Nazis.

The group lit coloured candles, each representing a different group of people persecuted by the Nazis.

The Hartlepool Holocaust Memorial Group (HHMG) is made up of 12 young people aged 13 to 18 who work all year round to educate others. Their activities culminate in a commemorative service every January.

In the past year, the group visited Berlin, made a presentation at the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust’s Youth Champions Day in Manchester, and travelled to the National Holocaust Centre in Nottingham.

They also interviewed Lady Milena Grenfell-Baines, who was Milena Fleischmann when she was one of 669 Czech children saved from the Holocaust by British stockbroker Nicholas Winton.

Milena, now 86, settled in Britain and married Sir George Grenfell-Baines, who designed Peterlee and Newton Aycliffe.

Hartlepool College is as much about people integrating positively into society as it is about them gaining skills and qualifications, and we place a strong emphasis on true British values

Gary Kester, Creative Director at Hartlepool College of Further Education

The group asked Gary Kester, creative director at the college, to accompany them when they visited her home. The resulting interview was part of a 16-minute short documentary called Don’t Stand By which was shown to an invited audience of over 150 people.

Milena intends to use it on the lectures she delivers around the world, as does her sister Eva who escaped on the same train.

Eva praised the work of the Hartlepool youth group and said: “I honestly thought I was immune to tears. Don’t Stand By had me crying all over again. It is wonderful.”

The group performed a moving candle-lighting ceremony, presented short talks on various aspects of the Holocaust and performed a song they had written along with talented musicians Gary Millar, Joe Solo, Sara Dennis and Brian Barnes called Through the Wire, inspired by research they had done on the Durham Light Infantry’s discovery of the camp at Belsen.

Louis Nixon, Jake Hornsey and Annabelle Thomas in a scene from It's Nothing, a short play written be Annabelle Napper.

Louis Nixon, Jake Hornsey and Annabelle Thomas in a scene from It's Nothing, a short play written be Annabelle Napper.

The group also acted out a short original play and there was an address by another Kindertransport survivor, Gabrielle Keenaghan, who now lives in North Shields and whose father was murdered in Auschwitz.

Holocause survivor Gabriele Keenaghan tells the story of how her father was murdered by the Nazis.

Holocause survivor Gabriele Keenaghan tells the story of how her father was murdered by the Nazis.

Through the Wire was a song inspired by the soldiers of the Durham Light Infantry who discovered Bergen-Belsen.

Through the Wire was a song inspired by the soldiers of the Durham Light Infantry who discovered Bergen-Belsen.

The event was hosted by group members Lois Joynt and Brandon Casey.

The event was hosted by group members Lois Joynt and Brandon Casey.