In Living Memory

By June 1, 2015Interviews-Leeds
phil lyons

The National Holocaust Centre in Nottinghamshire welcomes families, groups and schools to share in their story of hope.

 

When you hear the word Holocaust how does it make you feel? How does it affect you today? Each day, school pupils and members of the public visit the National Holocaust Centre in Nottinghamshire to confront the lessons of the past.

 

The centre – the only centre dedicated to Holocaust remembrance and education in the UK – was founded by a Christian family in 1995 following a visit to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. Inspired to make a difference the National Holocaust Centre plays a unique role as a dedicated memorial and place of education.

 

Every year, the centre welcomes over 20,000 visitors including children, parents, survivors and families who all have access to unique resources and experiences.

 

 

Opening Times

Mon – Fri 10am – 4.30pm

Saturday – Closed

Sunday – 10am – 4.30pm

 

Admission prices

Adults £8

Concession £7

Flexible Family Ticket £28 (2 adults and up to 3 children)

 

The National Holocaust Centre & Museum, Acre Edge Road, Laxton, Newark, Nottinghamshire, NG22 0PA

Tel: 01623 836 627

Email: office@nationalholocaustcentre.net

Web: Nationalholocaustcentre.net

 

Phil Lyons, CEO of the National Holocaust Centre,discusses the charity’s exceptional facilities, ongoing challenges and future objectives.

 

What makes the National Holocaust Centre a unique experience? 

We are the only centre dedicated to Holocaust remembrance and education in the UK, providing accessible exhibitions, survivor testimonies and a wonderful memorial garden. We have over 1,000 white roses which commemorate a family or individual murdered in the Holocaust, a children’s memorial with red roses and a stone sculpture in tribute to the 1.5 million individual children who died.

 

The Journey Exhibition is the first and only Holocaust exhibition for primary-aged children in the UK, while the Holocaust Exhibition – suitable for secondary school students and adults – follows the chronological order of events that led to the Holocaust.

 

We have made the history of the Holocaust accessible to everyone which as a challenging subject was difficult to achieve. We’re not trying to wring emotion out of history, we’re trying to get people to apply it to themselves and their lives today, learn from those lessons and of course to remember.

 

Mick Davis, the chairman of the Prime Minister’s Holocaust Commission, recently came to the Centre and said he hasn’t seen another Holocaust Centre as good as this and feels we’ve made something to be proud of.

 

Do you think the Prime Minister’s National Holocaust Commission is a positive initiative?

It is very positive for any government to actively ask questions about the Holocaust. The cross-party Holocaust Commission introduced by the Prime Minister is recommending a new national memorial in central London and a learning centre alongside it plus a fund to support future Holocaust education projects across the country and a pledge to preserve British Holocaust survivor testimonies. It is of course important that it is done well and is meaningful to today’s people. Because we have a lot of experience and fantastic exhibitions here we hope we can contribute in some way.

 

How are you working with extreme thinkers in our society?

It’s a really interesting concept and one the government is really struggling with. How do we challenge and deal with people whose views are so extreme? One way not to do it is to simply fine or put them in prison. What that tends to do is strengthen their own resolve and negatively reinforce their beliefs.

 

It’s much more important that we use education to try and challenge some of their thinking and ask them to reconsider and rethink their views about other people.

 

How will the centre develop in the future?

It’s absolutely vital that we keep that individual testimony from the people who survived. We’re doing that in a number of ways. Interactive testimony is probably the most important and we will not only be able to have 3D images of the survivors in the future but people will still be able to ask questions to those images and amazingly those images will be able to answer questions. It’s expensive and a very hard process to do right but we’ve started it.

 

The last person we filmed was Arek Hersh who’s a good Leeds chap and still takes group tours back to Poland. We’re hoping to do at least 10 this year. We’re going to make sure that all our survivors are filmed in good quality high definition so they are there for perpetuity.

 

We also have to make sure that when the survivors aren’t there in person the Holocaust deniers have no room to challenge us. We have to make sure we have all the records to prove the story to be true.

 

The challenge for us is we are a charity like any other. We have to raise the money ourselves to keep the place open. It’s not easy, there’s always a new charity on the block trying to raise money so we’ve got to try and make sure we build a good base for what we do.