Updated: Apr 6, 2020
We were honoured to take part in a compelling Holocaust Remembrance Day event at South Hampstead Synagogue last night. Archive Director Dr Bea Lewkowicz interviewed Lili Pohlmann, whose vivid and terrifying recollections of life under Nazi occupation in Lviv held the audience spellbound. It was wonderful to see Lili talk alongside Safet Vukalic from Prijedor, a survivor of the Serbian genocide in Bosnia.
Earlier in the evening Dr Lewkowicz led an oral history workshop about objects. Interviewee Tom Keve presented his grandfather's yellow star. Interviewee Liselotte Kastner presented a postcard sent from her grandmother Karoline Adler – imprisoned in Theresienstadt – to family who had escaped to Stockholm. One of Karoline's nephews was a professional tennis player who had once been photographed playing tennis with the King of Sweden. This photo managed to secure him a Swedish visa. Many other unique stories were told in what felt like a privileged moment.
Our 'Still in Our Hands' Kindertransport exhibit was also on display. Dr Lewkowicz fielded fascinating questions about the experience of these traumatic journeys. It was moving to see children the same age as our interviewees were at their arrival looking at the photographs.
Dr Lewkowicz told some of the many stories behind the exhibit, including that of Freddy Kosten who came to the UK on a Kindertransport with his sister Claire and was looked after in a large house in Chelsea by playwright Benn Levy and his wife, the well-known actress Constance Cummings, who also arranged for Freddy and Claire's parents to join them as their guests. Not all the stories are as happy and listeners were moved and fascinated. Thanks to all who made it such a great event.