Conference Round-Up - Part One

I will admit that it's been difficult to find the motivation to write anything since hearing about David Cesarani's death. He was a big influence on my work and always gave me great encouragement in pursuing extra-curricular activities. Now that I have recovered from some of the shock, I have realised - as one often does at these times - that, if anything, he would want me to be doing as much as possible, not to solely dwell on what we have lost but to carry on the important work of Holocaust education.
Furthermore, with a hectic summer that included writing my dissertation, there are still a couple of key events from the summer that I haven't covered. As these were both conferences - and I have been to two conferences in the last week - I thought I could give a brief summary of all four, in two parts. This will then conclude my 'summer recap' as well as give an up-to-date account of the more recent conferences.

Holocaust Educational Trust Ambassador Conference 2015, Monday 6th July 2015
London, UK

Regional Ambassadors at AmCon 2015, with HET CEO Karen Pollock and BBC correspondent Nick Robinson

For the third year running, hundreds of Ambassadors and A Level students from around the country met in central London for a day of Holocaust education, remembrance and discussion.
CEO Karen Pollock started the day's proceedings before handing over to Sir Peter Bazalgette, Chair of the recently-founded UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation. Sir Bazalgette stressed the importance of Holocaust education in this country and the UKHMF's pledge to create a memorial, learning centre and resources that will last for generations.
The keynote speech was delivered by historian Laurence Rees, whose books and TV series include 'The Nazis: A Warning from History' and 'Auschwitz: The Nazis and the Final Solution'. Rees talked about his experience of interviewing perpetrators for his research and the unfathomable excuses that many of them made as to why they participated in the Holocaust.
Participants later chose two workshops out of a varied selection, ranging from topics such as Britain's response to the Holocaust, to the genocide of the Roma and Sinti, to Holocaust literature.
By far the most incredible part of the day, however, was listening to Mala Tribich and Bernard Levy. Mala was liberated from Bergen-Belsen in April 1945; Levy was just one member of the British Army that helped liberate the camp. Both were present onstage to share some memories of the day of liberation. It was truly unique to see a survivor and liberator sharing a platform together in this way, 70 years later.
The rest of the day consisted of a panel discussion that included Karen Pollock, journalist Hugo Rifkind and film-maker Rex Bloomstein. The conference was once again concluded by Nick Robinson.

You can read a little more about the conference on the HET website.

2nd Annual Conference of the British Association of Holocaust Studies, 21st-22nd July 2015
Birmingham, UK

The introduction of Dr. Rochelle G Saidel's talk on women in Holocaust history

This year's BAHS conference was organised and held at my alma mater, The University of Birmingham. The title of the conference was 'Another Time, Another Place? Challenges in Commemorating, Teaching and Researching the Holocaust 70 Years On'. This gave rise to a huge range of topics being presented: the Holocaust in literature; in music (more specifically in Heavy Metal!); in social media; in theatre; and in religion, just to name a few. Dr. Caroline Sturdy-Colls gave a fascinating keynote talk about her use of non-invasive archaeological methods to uncover the camp at Treblinka, whilst Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel discussed women's place in Holocaust history in a later evening session. On the second day, a special panel focused on the current state of British Holocaust education and its challenges. HET, the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, the Imperial War Museum and the Universities of Birmingham and London were all represented during this discussion.
I was very pleased to be able to give my own paper, reflecting on the ethics of including Nazism and the Holocaust in video games, and whether or not it may interfere with young people's education in this field. I felt honoured to be presenting at a conference alongside so many scholars who are true pioneers in this field, and was naturally very pleased to receive positive feedback for my research.

The themes and key speakers at this year's BAHS conference are on the BAHS website.