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University to Host Talk by Holocaust Survivor

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Holocaust survivor Hannah Lewis will be sharing her story at an event hosted by the University of Worcester’s History department, in collaboration with the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET), later this month.

In a free event, which is open to the public, she will recount the moving story of her early life, which began in 1937 in Wlodawa, Poland, a small market town on the river Bug, bordering Ukraine.

Hannah came from a large prosperous family and had a happy childhood until Wlodawa was occupied by the Nazis in 1939. Life became increasingly difficult for the Jews: curfews were introduced and the family had their business confiscated.

Many Jewish refugees moved to the town to try to avoid Nazi round-ups elsewhere, and Hannah remembers her house always being full of strangers.

In 1942, most of the Jews of Wlodawa were murdered in the nearby Sobibór extermination camp. In 1943, when Hannah was six, she and the rest of her family were marched on foot to a work camp called Adampol, a few miles away from Wlodawa.

In the camp, Hannah witnessed her mother’s shooting by German police. She was finally liberated by a Soviet soldier, who picked her out of a trench, dirty and very hungry. Only Hannah and her father survived and came to Britain in 1949. The rest of her family were murdered at Sobibór or Majdanek or by shootings close to their homes.

Hannah now shares her experiences to help young people understand the impact the Holocaust had on the world.

Karen Pollock MBE, Chief Executive of the HET, explains: “The HET educates and engages people from across the UK, from all communities about the Holocaust and there can be no better way than through the first-hand testimony of a survivor.

“Hannah’s story is one of tremendous courage during horrific circumstances and by hearing her testimony, people will have the opportunity to learn where prejudice and racism can ultimately lead. 

“At the Trust, we impart the history of the Holocaust to young people, to ensure that we honour the memory of those whose lives were lost and take forward the lessons taught by those who survived.”

Dr Wendy Toon, History Course Leader at the University of Worcester, adds: “We are delighted and privileged to be welcoming Hannah Lewis to the University of Worcester.  She is the second survivor to share her testimony here as a result of our on-going relationship with the HET. 

“In collaboration with them we have another series of events on and around Holocaust Memorial Day - 27th January 2015.  This includes a speaker from Luleå University of Technology, Sweden, and two from Worcester’s History Department, Drs Fleming and Oldridge. These events will also be free and open to the public.”

Hannah Lewis will visit the University on November 18. The event, which will take place in the Yelland Lecture Theatre between 1pm and 3pm, is open to all. To reserve a place, email ihca@worc.ac.uk.

For more details, contact Dr Toon at w.toon@worc.ac.uk