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Untold stories given voice at Holocaust Memorial Day

Hall of Names, Yad Vashem World Holocaust Centre, Jerusalem, Israel

A man who broke his silence to reveal the horrors he witnessed in the Nazi death camp at Bergen-Belsen will be a special guest at Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations at the University of Sussex on Wednesday 26 January 2011.

Slovak-born Tomi Reichental did not speak about his experiences for nearly 60 years, 'not because I didn't want to, but because I couldn't .'

As one of just three Holocaust survivors now living in Ireland, he decided it was time to share his memories and speak out as one of the few remaining witnesses to the Nazi atrocities.

He began by speaking to students in Ireland about his wartime experiences before being persuaded by film-makers Gerry Gregg and Oliver Donohoe to revisit Slovakia and relive his time in Bergen-Belsen. It was there, as a nine-year-old boy, that he witnessed the annihilation of thousands of Jews through starvation, disease and mass murder.

Miraculously, Mr Reichental, his mother and brother survived Belsen and his father survived as a partisan, but many other relatives and friends perished.

The film, Till The Tenth Generation tells the story of Tomi's return visit to Slovakia.

The film will be shown during Holocaust Memorial Day on campus and will be followed by a question and answer session with Mr Reichental, director Gerry Gregg and producer Oliver Donohoe.

The audience will also hear from guest speaker Professor Robert Eaglestone, who echoes the theme of this year's Holocaust Memorial Day - Untold Stories - in his talk entitled 'Holocaust Remembrance in the 21st Century: Listening to Untold Stories'.

The programme will conclude with a panel discussion reflecting on the day's events, led by John Jacobs, former Senior Lecturer in social policy at the University of Sussex.

Special guests who will speak briefly at the opening of the event include Professor Michael Farthing, Vice-Chancellor, University of Sussex; Brighton and Hove Mayor Geoff Wells; Director of the Association of Jewish Refugees Gordon Greenfield; University of Sussex Students Union President Cameron Tait; and Director of the University's Centre for German-Jewish Studies, Professor Christian Wiese.

The event is free and open to all. Registration is not required-just turn up on the day.

Untold stories will be a theme that resonates at the University of Sussex in the coming months. In January 2011 the Centre for German-Jewish Studies is starting a three-year DPhil project devoted to the efforts of the Quakers (also known as the Society of Friends). The project will examine the way in which the Quakers assisted with the rescue of people at risk of persecution on political, religious or racial grounds in Germany, Austria and other parts of Nazi-occupied Europe.

The documentation about their network of international rescue activities in Britain, the United States and other countries, located in a variety of archives and private collections awaits a comprehensive comparative study.

Notes for editors


The University of Sussex Holocaust Memorial Day, organised by the University's Centre for German-Jewish Studies, takes place on Wednesday 26 January in the Medical School Building's Chowen Lecture theatre on the University campus and is open to all. Free entry to this event is made possible by the generous support of the Association of Jewish Refugees.


1.30 pm Welcome.

1.45 pm Professor Robert Eaglestone (Royal Holloway, London) 'Holocaust Remembrance in the 21st Century: Listening to Untold Stories'. Session chaired by Professor Christian Wiese

2.45 pm Tea, Sussex Medical School Foyer

3.15 pm Film: 'Till the Tenth Generation' (2009)

4.30 pm Panel discussion chaired by John Jacobs, former Senior Lecturer in social policy, University of Sussex.

Robert Eaglestone is Professor of Contemporary Literature and Thought at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is Deputy Director (formerly Director) of the Holocaust Research Centre and was Deputy Dean of Arts and Humanities. He works on contemporary literature and literary theory, contemporary philosophy and on Holocaust and Genocide studies. He has written extensively on Holocaust testimony, fiction, historiography and poetry. His publications include Postmodernism and Holocaust Denial (2001) and The Holocaust and the Postmodern (2004).

Gerry Gregg is one of Ireland's most accomplished documentary filmmakers. He has directed, produced and written many award-winning documentaries and series for both Irish and British television.

Oliver Donohoe is a former producer with RTE, the national Irish radio and television station. He was the founding Chairperson of Ireland's Holocaust Memorial Day Committee and is a Trustee of the Holocaust Educational Trust Ireland.

The Centre for German-Jewish Studies, established in 1994, has developed into a major institution for the study of the history, culture and thought of Jews from Central Europe and for the training of a new generation of teachers and researchers in this field.

Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) is commemorated internationally on January 27 each year. This date was chosen as it is the anniversary of the day in 1945 on which the Soviet Army liberated the largest Nazi concentration camp - Auschwitz-Birkenau. Each year, the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust urges everyone in the UK to pause and reflect on what can happen when racism, prejudice and exclusionary behaviour are left unchecked.

How to get to the University of Sussex:

Car: Pay and display parking available on campus. See campus map.

Train: Take the train to Falmer and cross the A27 using the underpass to enter the Sussex campus

Bus: Brighton and Hove no 25 to campus. Alight at the second stop on campus for the Medical School.

How to get to the University of Sussex - map

How to get to the Medical School (building number 47) on campus - map

For further details contact: Diana Franklin, Centre for German-Jewish Studies, University of Sussex.  Tel: +44 (0)20 8381 4721 Email:

University of Sussex Press office contacts: Maggie Clune, Jacqui Bealing and Daniëlle Treanor. Tel: 01273 678 888. Email:

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Last updated: Tuesday, 18 January 2011