£55,000 helps give a voice to survivors of Holocaust

A PROJECT to record the memories of Holocaust survivors has been given a £55,000 boost.

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Angela Shapiro, of Glasgow Caledonian University, and history teacher Claire Singerman, of Hutchesons' Grammar School, have worked to preserve the stories of Holocaust survivors living in Scotland.

And the Gathering The Voices scheme has proved so popular it has been awarded Heritage Lottery funding of £45,000 and £10,000 from local Jewish charitable trusts.

Ms Shapiro, academic development tutor at the university's School of Engineering And Built Environment, said: "The idea for Gathering The Voices came from listening to my mother-in-law Gretl Shapiro, who came to Scotland from Vienna on the Kindertransport."

This was a UK operation that began in 1938. It saw about 10,000 Jewish children brought to the UK from Nazi Germany and its territories.

Ms Shapiro added: "Like all the people we interviewed, Gretl wanted to be remembered as a productive member of Scottish society, rather than merely as a victim of persecution.

"We passionately believe we need to preserve these first-hand accounts so we can educate future generations."

Gathering the Voices is run by a committee including Ms Shapiro, Ms Singerman and four other volunteers in partnership with the university.

There are seven testimonies on the project website and the plan is to have 30.

Project organisers will be working with Scottish teachers to develop teaching packs based on the interviews for use as part of the Curriculum For Excellence with the Sense Over Sectarianism campaign.

And the British Library has decided to include Gathering The Voices on its digital archive, meaning it will last for many generations.

The European Holocaust Infrastructure will link the site to its portal, securing a global audience while Glasgow Caledonian University will store the audio files in its Spoken Word repository.

The complete interviews will be kept at the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre, where they will be available to schools and councils for events such as National Holocaust Memorial Day, which is held every January 27.

The theme for this year's Memorial Day was Build A Bridge, to help remind people of the effects of persecution and promote the need for reconciliation.

Part of it included a wall at the City Chambers covered with personal messages from hundreds of people, including school pupils.

An exhibition based on the interviews will also visit schools and small communities, and will be displayed in Glasgow museums during the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The testimonies are at: www.gathering thevoices.com

catriona.stewart@ eveningtimes.co.uk

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