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Eva Schloss with actor
Eva is on the left...

'Then they came for me...'

This month Kirklees will remember the Holocaust with an Act of Commemoration at Dewsbury Town Hall which includes a play with a strong anti-hate message.

James Still's drama, 'And then they came for me - remembering the world of Anne Frank', sets out to show that the experience of Jewish children sixty years ago in Nazi-occupied Europe is just as relevant today.

The play is the story of two Jewish families interwoven with interviews with Holocaust survivors, some of whom are portrayed in the drama.

Scene from play And Then They Came For Me
A scene from And They Came For Me...

Following the publication of her very moving diary, Anne Frank, who died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, has become a symbol of Jewish suffering under the Nazis. Anne and her family had been in hiding in the annex of a house in Amsterdam for two years before they were discovered.

Still's play uses the experiences of Eva Schloss, Auschwitz survivor and Anne's step-sister and childhood friend. Arrested by the Nazis on her 15th birthday, Eva and her mother Mutti were amongst those liberated from Auschwitz. Anne's father Otto was the only member of the Frank family to survive the camps and after the war he and Mutti married.

"The most important thing is the message of its play."
Nic Careem

Eva will be accompanying the play to Dewsbury and will be at the Act of Commemoration to answer any questions from the audience. Also speaking at Dewsbury Town Hall will be local MP Shahid Malik and Nic Careem who is responsible for bringing the play to Kirklees where it is being performed by the MeWe, a company of young actors from many different backgrounds.

There will also be a performance for Kirklees schools at which Eva will be present.

But producer Nic Careem stresses that the most important thing is not who is doing the play, although they are "a bunch of wonderful kids, it's not even Eva...The most important thing is the message of the play."

Nic, a Muslim, is a co-founder of the Anne Frank Declaration launched at the House of Commons in 1998. Nelson Mandela and former US President Bill Clinton are just two of those who have pledged themselves to work towards a world free of hatred and bigotry by signing the Declaration. In 1999 Nic and Eva attended a signing ceremony at the United Nations HQ in New York accompanied by the late Mo Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Nic says: "We want to point out that Jews and Muslims are working together in this area."

Nic Careem

Nic -  the creative director of the Blue Sky Club, a non-profit making organisation which uses the arts to promote tolerance and understanding - aims to have this powerful play against hate performed by drama departments in 2000 schools across the UK during Holocaust Week in 2008 and, hopefully, before too long in schools across the world. He also has plans to take the play into prisons and dreams of it being performed in both Israel and Palestine with a mixed cast in front of a mixed audience.

Kim Strickson has been involved in organising the event for Kirklees Museums and Galleries. She says: "We are honoured to be hosting this very special play and to have Eva Schloss alongside local Holocaust survivors working with local schoolchildren to think about this year's theme, 'The Dignity of Difference.' The theme encourages us to look at what we learn from the Holocaust about the consequences of exclusion, based on who is different from us. It asks us to think about what might be done to celebrate difference and create a culture of respect."

Kirklees' Act of Commemoration for Holocaust Memorial Day 2007 is at Dewsbury Town Hall on Monday 29th January and admission is free.

last updated: 22/01/07
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