Those who survived and thrived

editorial image

A travelling exhibition on the experiences of Holocaust survivors who found refuge in Scotland is gathering momentum.

Gathering the Voices, supported by Glasgow Caledonian Univesity and the Heritage Lottery Fund, is the work of six southsiders; Hilary and Steven Anson, Claire and Howard Singerman and Angela and David Shapiro.

The project has been touring schools, and this week featured at the national Holocaust Memorial Day event in Ayr — its first major public showing, where first minister Nicola Sturgeon showed considerable interest (pictured).

Steven Anson told The Extra: “The idea came from Gretl Shapiro, Angela’s late mother, who wanted to be remembered not as a victim but as a refugee, and to show what those like her had achieved.

“We all help with The Association of Jewish Refugees as our respective parents were members, and it meant that the people involved in the project knew and trusted us, and could retain editorial control of their stories.”

He continued: “Most Holocaust stories end when refugees arrive in the country providing haven — but what’s unique about this is that the testimonies don’t stop there. They all wanted to share more on their lives in Scotland, and the friendliness they were shown.”

The mobile exhibition features 30 life stories from settlers — most, but not all, Jewish — including Marion Camrass, who fled Poland and ended up in a Siberian camp before reaching Scotland.

Marion’s powerful narration has also been turned into an educational game — nearing completion — in a joint venture with GCU.

Steven added: “It’s very moving to hear the stories, and it’s personally fulfilling — you feel you’re doing something for the public good. If we don’t record them now, they’re going to be lost for all time.

“Now, it’s about getting them out to the children, to help them understand how prejudice and hatred — what starts as bullying and name-calling — can lead to genocide.”

Gathering the Voices is available to schools and other groups, and offers Holocaust speakers alongside an exhibition on the testimonies.

To find out more or to hear participants tell their stories first-hand, visit www.gatheringthevoices.com.