January 26, 2017, by Claire Henson

Holocaust Memorial Day 2017

Annabel Pattle, University of Nottingham student and Holocaust Educational Trust Regional Ambassador, talks about the importance of Holocaust Memorial Day. 

Whenever there is a humanitarian atrocity that shocks and saddens the world; whenever we are faced with the horrendous images of perpetrator’s crimes; whenever we see the crying and lamenting faces of the victims, the world either turns its face away or cries out in disbelief. We question humanity and morality; life itself is scrutinised. How could this happen? How can human life mean so little to those in power? How can life go on?

‘How Can Life Go On?’ is this years theme for Holocaust Memorial Day. ‘How can life go on?’ would have been one of the first questions survivors asked. Once their bodies had returned to some state of normality and health, one can only guess that the future did not seem bright but a vast, blank space. A future that was once filled with family, friends, faith and ambitions had become a void. How can life go on when life itself had been mercilessly torn apart and destroyed? There seems to be no adequate answer to that cry.

However, life did go on.

Life continued for the survivors and their testimonies not only speak of great pain and suffering, but of great love, resilience and hope. In my role as Regional Ambassador for the Holocaust Education Trust, I have had the privilege of working with Holocaust Survivors and hearing their testimonies. Each story is different but their messages all share the same sentiment. They hope for tolerance, for love, for personal resilience and that the young will never give up. It is within these messages that life goes on.

On Friday, students and staff will have the opportunity to hear Mala Tribich’s testimony at 10am in the Atrium. Holocaust Survivors are testament to the fact that, thankfully, life went on. However, that does not take away from the fact that for 6 million Jewish people, life did not go on. As time passes and life continues, the memory fades and crimes vanish in the tides of history. That is why hearing survivor testimonies are so important. They provide a voice for all those who were brutally silenced. And we must add our voices to the silence. In this way, we can give life to the memories of those who were murdered and carry their messages forward so that life might stand a chance of going on in a better and more loving way.

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