Tomorrow, the 27th January 2019 is Holocaust Memorial Day.
Events that happen decades ago in history can seem remote, especially to young people. Many of us in the older generation can connect because our parents may have lived through the second world war, have had grandparents who served and our media from that time was at the tail end of the studio war movies we now refer to as classic cinema. Even as kids we played in bombed out spaces from the second world war. So it’s hard for young millennials to understand that over six million people, Jews, Roma, homosexuals, the disabled, died at the hands of an extremist regime. I cannot blame them. Our cities have recovered. Life goes on.
During my career I was lucky and privileged enough to be asked to record survivors testimony. I would drive up to an unassuming house, sometimes a remote drive away. Set up my broadcast camera, microphone and lights which must have seemed alien to the person I was pointing all this equipment at. After being offered tea and biscuits and some chit chat, they would sit down in their favourite chair and start talking. I would get through on average a whole box of ten half hour tapes. The time seemed to fly by as their compelling testimony poured out. The small details of how they escaped or survived. The people who helped them. The loved ones they were forced to say goodbye to.
It was hard to stay focused on the job. To get the technicals right. Even so I would remember details such as how escapees would use cut tennis balls to throw family heirlooms across the river before they were captured. Desperate stuff. It leaves a deep impression.
Our film ‘Arena’ connects the present with the past, to open a door for younger people, connecting history with the terrible events of May 22th 2017 at the Manchester Arena. The extremism and horror they experienced that night has been lurking in society for a long time and at this moment is more prevalent. Only through education, understanding and remembrance can we combat extremism.
Take a moment on this day to remember the Holocaust.
If you want to learn more, here’s the Holocaust Remembrance link, The Shoah Foundation and The Peace Foundation set up after the IRA Warrington Bombing and of course the Manchester Emergency Fund set up after the Arena bombing.