Survivors creating pieces of history
AT THE end of the Second World War, the British Government offered to bring more than 1,000 orphaned child survivors of the Nazi concentration camps to the UK. However, after weeks of effort by officials, only 732 survivors were found, and — although 80 of them were girls — they became known collectively as ‘‘The Boys’’.
The children were flown from Eastern Europe to the UK and eventually settled in special hostels throughout the country.
In the UK, they rebuilt their lives as part of this group, and many eventually settled here, while oth- ers moved to North America, Australia and Israel.
To mark the 70th anniversary of their liberation last year, those same ‘‘Boys’’, their children and their families, began a unique commemoration — to create “Memory Quilts” that would, through words and images, encapsulate their stories. Each square serves as a reminder not only of lost families and communities, but of strength and survival as each of them found a new life in Britain.
The project has resulted in four separate quilts made up of 156 squares. The Memory Quilts themselves are currently on display at the Jewish Museum in a free exhibition, alongside stories of the lives they represent.
The exhibition is being staged in partnership with the ’45 Aid Society and Second Generation. Established in 1963, the ’45 Aid Society consists mainly of survivors of concentration camps who Memories: the Jewish Museum is currently showing tapesty works by camp survivors came to Britain in 1945/46. The Society helps members and charities and facilitates survivors giving testimony of their experiences to schools, councils and community groups.
The Second Generation are the children and grandchildren of The Boys. They guard the testimony of the group, bearing vicarious witness to their life stories and remember the lives that were destroyed. The Second Generation organisation was set up to keep these stories alive by way of community events, educational activities and fundraising.
The ’45 Aid Society has created a Memory Quilt Book, with 164 full-colour pages, photos of all the quilt squares and stories written by the survivors and their families. For more information contact the Jewish Museum on 0207 284 7384 and www.45aid.org