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Press release

  • 24 January 2007

University reflects on lessons of the Holocaust

Fernand Leger,

Fernand Leger, "Untitled", 1955. From "La Deportation"

A Holocaust survivor's incredible account of the Krakow ghetto forms part of a special commemoration at the University of Sussex on Wednesday, 31 January, to mark Holocaust Memorial Day (Saturday, 27 January).

Janina Fischler Martinho lived through the horrors of the Krakow ghetto. Born in Krakow, Poland, she escaped from the ghetto as a child with the help of her older brother. She then had to fend for herself in the countryside until she managed to escape to Britain in 1946.

She was later reunited with her brother, but did not tell her story till 50 years later, in her Holocaust memoir Have You Seen My Little Sister? Janina will give a personal account of her experiences, followed by a question and answer session.

Also speaking at the event is Helen Bamber, founder of the Medical Foundation for the Care for Victims of Torture, who will talk about the impact on her life of her relief work with survivors of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

Helen was 19 when she volunteered to help Holocaust survivors at the end of World War II, listening to their devastating accounts of unimagined cruelty. She went on to join Amnesty International, exposing torture practised by regimes around the world. Today she is one of the world's leading campaigners against the use of torture.

The University of Sussex Memorial Day forms part of a ten-day programme of events throughout Brighton and Hove. The theme for Holocaust Memorial Day is "The Dignity of Difference". Chana Moshenska, Director of Educational Programmes in the Centre for German-Jewish Studies at the University of Sussex, says: "Our speakers this year are two remarkable women. Through their lives they show us the importance of learning the lessons of the Holocaust: that genocide begins with racism; that robbing people of their dignity is the first step to robbing them of their freedom and then their lives; and that individuals can make a difference."

The day starts at 1.45pm in the Medical School lecture theatre on the University of Sussex campus at Falmer, when Vice-Chancellor Professor Alasdair Smith will deliver the welcoming address, followed by the key speakers.

The event concludes in the John Maynard Smith Lecture Theatre (next door to the Medical School) with an award-winning documentary film about the former Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria (5pm). Director Rex Bloomstein will also take part in a question and answer session.

The event is organised by the University's Centre for German-Jewish Studies and sponsored by the Association of Jewish Refugees. Entry is open to University students, staff and members of the public, and is free of charge.

Notes for editors

University of Sussex Press officers: Maggie Clune or Jacqui Bealing. Tel: 01273 678 88 or email

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