THE search is on for people in Hartlepool to share their experiences of the Holocaust.
Working with Hartlepool Council’s Youth Support Service, eight young people aged between 13 and 16 have formed the ‘Holocaust Memorial Group – Hartlepool’ to commemorate, and help other youngsters understand about, the Nazi persecution and subsequent genocides such as those in Cambodia, Rwanda and Bosnia.
The group – Jasmine Sirs, Annabelle Napper, Caitlin Lloyd, Jake Hornsey, Lois Joynt, Kate Kenny, Oliver Pinsent and Lauren Culley – are working on a special booklet about the Nazi Holocaust which they will distribute around schools and the wider community on international Holocaust Memorial Day in January, the theme of which is ‘Keeping The Memory Alive.’
As part of their research, they are hoping to find and interview people in their town who either survived the Holocaust or are relatives or friends of someone who experienced it, or who were involved in the liberation of the German concentration camps at the end of the war.
One particular hope is to trace veterans of local regiment the Durham Light Infantry which was involved in helping to free thousands of starving and seriously ill prisoners from the infamous Bergen-Belsen camp in 1945.
The group has already done a lot of research including a visit to the National Holocaust Centre in Newark and a study tour to Poland – paid for in the main by their own fundraising – where they visited Auschwitz-Birkenau as well as the factory of Oskar Schindler.
Lois Joynt, 13, said: “It always seemed that the Holocaust happened a long time ago and in books it seemed distant, but seeing the locations in Poland and our visit to the National Holocaust Centre really brought it home to us and changed all that – you think ‘what if it happened to me or my family?’
“We must make sure the full scale of the genocide is not forgotten and it would give our project particular impact if we could find and talk to Hartlepool people who had a direct link to the Holocaust, such as DLI veterans who went to Bergen-Belsen.”
Annabelle Napper, 16, added: “The project has really made me look at my life and value the simple things such as spending time with my family and being safe at home.
“We need to do our bit to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive and help people of our age to understand more about it and about the dangers of prejudice and bullying and what that can lead to.
“It would mean such a lot if we could find Hartlepool people with experience of the Holocaust.”
Anyone who can help the project should contact Beth Storey of the Youth Support Service on (01429) 523762 or email firstname.lastname@example.org