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Historians and other experts took part in the now annual conference, held at the University of Exeter.

Devon teenagers hear incredible tales of courage from Holocaust survivor

Hundreds of Devon teenagers and students witnessed the incredible courage of concentration camp survivor Mala Tribich during an event organised to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.

Historians and other experts took part in the now annual conference, held at the University of Exeter and organised for the third time by final year history student Barnabas Balint.

Around 200 participants listened to Mrs Tribich speak and also took part in seminars where they learned more about the Holocaust and were able to discuss its impact.

This event is also part of the Holocaust Educational Trust’s outreach programme and was open to University of Exeter students, schools and sixth form colleges across the South West.

Mr Balint said: “This conference brought together academics, researchers and students from across disciplines and backgrounds for a common cause: to learn from genocide, for a better future.

“It was a privilege for us to welcome Mala Tribich MBE to the conference. I am certain that her testimony will remain a powerful reminder of the horrors that so many experienced during the Holocaust and Nazi Persecution and continue to experience in subsequent genocides to this day.”

Mrs Tribich was born in Poland but fled with her family with the Nazi’s invaded the country. On their return they were forced to live in a ghetto. She was then sent with a cousin to another part of the country where they posed as Christian children. Mrs Tribich eventually returned to her family in the ghetto, where she was forced to work as a slave labourer before being separated from her family and sent to concentration camps, including Bergen-Belsen. When the camp was liberated she was ill with typhus. After her recovery she spent time in Sweden before being reunited with her brother, the only immediate member of her family to survive, in England.

Speaking at the event, Professor Timothy Quine, University of Exeter Deputy Vice-Chancellor, said: “In raising awareness of the Holocaust, this event emphasises its contemporary relevance to promoting a future without racism, discrimination and hatred – a future based on equality, tolerance and mutual understanding.

“This conference is an important opportunity for us as a community to engage with and learn about one of the darkest times in human history, the Holocaust, and to take inspiration from the resilience of those who lived through it.. It is inspirational to see the work which Barnabas and his peers do through the Holocaust Educational Trust and other organisations.

“It is extremely important for students to have an opportunity to remember the past, engage with experts and discuss and think about complex and challenging issues.”

Seminars were run by University of Exeter historians Dr Ana Antic, Dr Nick Terry, expert in visual culture Professor Gabriella Giannachi and theologian Isabelle Mutton.

Also running seminars were Tom Jackson, from the Holocaust Educational Trust, Kirsty Robson and Jack Downes, Holocaust Educational Trust Regional Ambassadors, Rosemary Schonfeld, a member of the Second Generation, and Dr Barbara Warnock from the Wiener Library.

Pupils attended from Exeter School (Exeter), St Peter’s School (Exeter) and Park Community School (Barnstaple), Shebbear College (North Devon), Spires College (Torquay), St Cuthbert Mayne (Torquay), Exeter College (Exeter), Stoke Damerel Community College and Cullompton Community College (Cullompton).

Professor Janice Kay CBE, University of Exeter Provost, said: “It is vital that we recognise and learn from the past to understand how we become a more open and inclusive society. This is an extremely important conference which I am delighted has been organised at Exeter for our community.”

Date: 18 January 2019

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