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24 September 2014
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Norwich reflects on National Holocaust Day
Majdanek monument.
Majdanek Monument, Poland - a symbol of tragedy, hope and victory

A living history lesson took place in Norfolk as the city remembered the Holocaust writes Claire Whiteman.

This grim chapter in Europe's history was the Nazis' campaign against the Jews between 1933 and 1945. It culminated in what the Nazis called the 'Final Solution of the Jewish Question in Europe', in which over six million Jews were murdered.

The Jews were not the only victims of Nazism. It is estimated that as many as 15 million civilians were killed including millions of Gypsies and members of various other groups because of their race, or religion, or disability, or sexuality.

"The Holocaust is something which will never ever be forgotten by Jews. There are still many survivors, in particular there are whole families who perished in the Holocaust," said Alex Bennett, Minister for the Hebrew Congregation of Norwich. "The sheer numbers are impossible to assimilate."

Norfolk remembers

On Saturday January 27, the Norfolk and Norwich Council of Christians and Jews unveiled an exhibition at Norwich Cathedral entitled Kinder Transport.

Canon Michael Stagg.
Canon Michael Stagg

"Ten thousand children were actually given refuge in this country, which I think is a very positive thing given the difficulties we have with the present asylum seekers," said Canon Michael Stagg, who chairs the Norfolk and Norwich Branch of the Council of Christian and Jews.

"It reminds people that we have got a history, a tradition of welcoming people, particularly vulnerable people like children."

Kinder Transport was a scheme which helped Jewish children flee to safer countries. The majority of the children never saw their parents again. After sending their children to new lives, they died in concentration camps such as Auschwitz.

IIse Bell was just 14 years old when her mother sent her to England. Kinder Transport saved her life.

llse Bell.
IIse Bell

"It was particularly difficult because by then my father was in a concentration camp together with all Jewish males in Germany between 16 and 60.

"She realised, I didn't realise, that war was imminent, sooner or later. We had no contacts, in foreign countries therefore there was no hope for the family to emigrate as a family," said IIse.

"When Holland first, then England offered to take Jewish children, that was one way she could save my life, and she did."

She never saw her parents, Erich and Lisbeth Korn, again. They died in the notorious Auschwitz concentration camp.

IIse, 78, said: "I think it is very important indeed that the world should remember what human beings, any human beings not just Germans, all of us, are capable of in the way of barbaric cruelty."

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