Emotional story of two Holocaust survivors told by ‘proud’ son as Portsmouth marks Holocaust Remembrance Day
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Along with other representatives from communities who have suffered or been persecuted as part of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides, Peter Kammerling was invited to a memorial event at The D-Day Story museum on Southsea seafront today.
Cllr Jonas said: ‘This year's theme for Holocaust Memorial Day is 'One Day' and I hope the activities taking place help residents to take some time to step aside, come together and remember the millions of people who lost their lives or suffered during these tragic events.’
An art exhibition was launched inside the museum, showcasing work by University of Portsmouth students as well as pupils from Mayville High School.
These works were inspired by Holocaust literature they had been encouraged to read.
Dr Christine Berberich, reader in literature at the university, introduced the exhibition and said: ‘We see articles that show how many people do not really know about the holocaust. ‘There is still a lot of work that needs to be done.’
She discussed the process of enabling students to uncover the story of the Holocaust for themselves through reading.
Christine added: ‘I think literature is an incredibly powerful tool - it teaches us about empathy.
‘The holocaust is not just a historical event, it was also a cultural event that eradicated an entire culture.’
After Christine spoke, Peter - son of Walter and Herta Kammerling - gave a powerful and emotional talk about his parents’ lives.
He shared the story of their separate journeys from Vienna as children on the Kindertransport, which rescued children from Nazi-controlled territory, and how they went on to make their lives together.
After coming to England and meeting at the Young Austrian Society, the couple married on November 11, 1944, when Walter was 21 and Herta was 18.
Many of their family members did not survive the war, and later in life Walter became involved in Holocaust education, telling his story to around 10,000 children.
The couple passed away last year at the ages of 97 and 85, after 76 years of marriage.
Peter, 73, said that his parents’ survival is an ‘important story to tell’, and that ‘with the rise of anti-semitism now it is important to remember that this happened’.
He added: ‘I am very proud of both of them. They have got five grandchildren from their two children and four great-grandchildren. The important message is that they [the Nazis] didn’t win.
‘Do not forget this stuff - tell the story, and if you see discrimination, do something about it. Fight it.’
Holocaust Memorial Day is a national event held to remember the millions of people who lost their lives or suffered in the Holocaust, under Nazi persecution, and also in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.
The event was part of a series of free activities taking place at The D-Day Story today.