Keeping the memories alive for Holocaust Memorial Day

Hanns Alexander

Rudolf Hoss

Zahava Kohn, aged two

Two guest speakers at the University of Sussex's Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations will pay tribute to the remarkable war stories of their Jewish relatives.

Entitled ‘Keep the Memory Alive,’ the free event is being held in the Jubilee Lecture Theatre at the University’s Falmer campus on Wednesday 28 January (1.30-5.30pm).

In the first session of the afternoon, writer Thomas Harding will be talking with Sussex historian Professor Clive Webb about Thomas’s great uncle, Hanns Alexander, who pursued and captured one of Nazi Germany’s most notorious criminals.

Thomas’s book , Hanns and Rudolf, gives an account of how Alexander joined British Forces in the hunt after the Second World War to track down Rudolf Hӧss, the Kommandant of Auschwitz. It was short-listed for the Costa Book Award in 2013 and has been translated into 13 languages.

Thomas says: “This book was very much a personal journey and prompted a number of questions: What makes a man flee his perpetrators, and then turn to face them? What methods can be used in the pursuit of justice?”

In the second session, Hephzibah Rudofsky will be in conversation with her mother, Lady Zahava Kohn, a Holocaust survivor who was sent with her family to Westerbork transit camp in 1943 at the age of seven, and then to Bergen Belsen concentration camp in 1944, from where she was liberated.

Lady Zahava embarked on her book, Fragments of a Lost Childhood (published in 2009), after discovering personal documents her mother had hidden during the war. Since 2010 she and Hephzibah have been visiting schools across the UK and Germany, delivering talks about her childhood experience.

Hephzibah says: “I believe that my mother’s story is about strength, tenacity, recovery and renewal. It is a compelling and powerful narrative as it is demonstrates the human spirit overcoming evil.

“The ability of people like my mother to endure, to survive and to remember is an inspiration and it is a privilege and an honour for me to have set up this project to work with my mother and facilitate these sessions . With increasingly limited survivor  testimonies, it makes these sessions all the more urgent and important.”

Their talk will be followed by a question and answer session chaired by Dr Gerhard Wolf, Deputy Director of the University’s Centre for German-Jewish Studies, which organised the event.

A candle created by world-renowned artist Sir Anish Kapoor will also be lit at the event as part of a national initiative that sees 70 specially designed candles at Holocaust Memorial Day events across the UK, marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau on 27 January 2015.


Notes for editors

  • Booking is essential for this event.  Book your place at
  • The event is free and is organised by the Centre for German-Jewish Studies with the generous support of the Association of Jewish Refugees
  • For further information, please contact Diana Franklin, Centre Manager, Tel: 020 8455 4785 or 01273 678771
  • University of Suss Press Office:  Jacqui Bealing and James Hakner, Tel: 01273 678888,
  • The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust is the charity established by the Government to promote and support Holocaust Memorial Day, encouraging and inspiring individuals and organisations across the UK to play their part in learning lessons from the past and creating a safer, better future.


By: Jacqui Bealing
Last updated: Monday, 19 January 2015