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Press release


  • 15 January 2008

Children’s hero remembered for Holocaust Memorial Day


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The story of the rescue of hundreds of Jewish children from Nazi death camps by an unassuming English stockbroker is highlighted during a special event to mark Holocaust Memorial Day at the University of Sussex.

Author Vera Gissing, who was one of 679 Czech children rescued by Nicholas Winton in 1939, will talk about her personal experience during a question-and-answer session following the screening of Nicholas Winton: The Power of Good, a Slovak film documenting Winton's rescue mission.

Directed by Matej Minac and narrated by John Schlesinger, the film won the International Emmy Award in 2002 for Best Documentary.

Winton's story only came to light 50 years later, when his wife discovered documents relating to the evacuation of hundreds of children to England. Winton had been holidaying in Prague before the outbreak of war in 1939 when, realising the danger Jewish children were facing, he hatched his plan. He was knighted in 2003 and in October 2007 was awarded the Czech Republic's highest military decoration, The Cross Of The 1st Class in recognition of his actions.

Speakers at the Holocaust Memorial programme will also include Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg and historian Dr Mark Levene from the University of Southampton. Both will focus on the contemporary relevance of holocaust remembrance.

The event, free of charge and open to all, is organised by the University's Centre for German-Jewish Studies and sponsored by the Association of Jewish Refugees. It will be held in the Brighton and Sussex Medical School lecture theatre on the University campus at Falmer, near Brighton, on Wednesday 23 January, from 1.30pm to 6.30pm.

On sale at the event will be Kinderstransport, Before and After: Elegy and Celebration, a collection of sixty poems by Lotte Kramer, who escaped Germany on one of the last Kindertransport trains in 1939. The collection has been edited by Sybil Oldfield, a research reader in English at the University of Sussex.

Notes for editors

  • The Centre for German Jewish Studies at the University of Sussex has been commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day for the past six years, with hundreds of students and members of the public attending. It has become one of the major events in the South-East for Holocaust Memorial Day. For full details contact Diana Franklin on 020 8381 4721 or email d.franklin@sussex.ac.uk
  • National Holocaust Memorial Day falls every year on 27 January, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz Birkenau in 1945.
  • Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg is rabbi of the New North London Synagogue and has been involved in numerous Interfaith and Social Justice projects.
  • Dr Mark Levene is Reader in Comparative History at the Parkes Institute for the Study of Jewish/non-Jewish Relations at the University of Southampton. His academic work focuses on genocide in recent history.
  • Vera Gissing is author of Pearls of Childhood, a unique memoir of life in wartime Britain in the shadow of the Holocaust. She is also joint author (with Muriel Emanuel) of Nicholas Winton and the Rescued Children, a historical account of the rescue programme.
  • For information about the Association for Jewish Refugees, see www.ajr.org.uk
  • Click here for details on how to get to campus

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