Keeping History Alive

By November 29, 2017news-leeds
Mr Skyte

Heinz Skyte has loaned a set of documents to the Holocaust Heritage and Learning Centre.

Heinz Skyte MBE, who arrived in Leeds in the late 1930s as a refugee from Germany, has loaned a set of historic documents to the Holocaust Heritage and Learning Centre.

The centre, which is based at the University of Huddersfield, is due to open in 2018. It has attained funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund in excess of £600,000 and has received support from local businesses, such as Leeds-based law firm, Shulmans LLP. The centre will include an exhibition chronicling the Holocaust’s impact on people’s lives and its continued relevance today. This will feature historical artefacts and personal stories from refugees, many of whom settled in Yorkshire.

Heinz, 93, is one of the latest contributors to the centre, having loaned letters, photographs and documents. He arrived in the UK in 1939, and said of his decision to help the centre: “To the visitors who come here this is perhaps just history, but to me it is my life. It is very important for me to share these items with the centre, as they are evidence for the events of the Holocaust.

“One of these documents is a letter from my wife’s head master written in 1938 when she was a young girl, banning her from the school, solely based on her Jewish faith. Another is a heartfelt note from my mother to her parents at the time they were sent to Theresienstadt concentration camp, where they sadly died just two weeks later. These items don’t just teach people what happened, but how genocide, in all its horror, quickly became acceptable to so many. I just hope that the people of Yorkshire and beyond will make the visit to the new centre to understand it better.”

Heinz himself escaped the Nazi regime in Germany after narrowly avoiding the atrocities of Kristallnacht, also known as the Night of the Broken Glass, although his father was sent to Dachau concentration camp for six weeks. After joining his brother Frank in Leeds, the siblings managed to reunite with their parents just four days before war broke out.

“Everybody thought the Holocaust was unique, and everybody said never again, but it’s still happening,” continued Heinz, who gained British citizenship in 1947 and has been awarded an MBE for his services in community work. “We have still got ethnic cleansing, and that’s why it’s important that British youngsters know about what happened and that by learning from it, generations to come will prevent it from ever happening again.”

Emma King, the centre’s director, stated: “Over 70 years on since the end of the Holocaust, we must capture these accounts and preserve them, to ensure they are not lost forever. Today’s meeting with Heinz has been incredibly humbling and adds priceless detail to our archive collection at our centre in Huddersfield to educate and inform countless generations to come.”
For more information on the Holocaust Heritage and Learning Centre, visit Holocaustlearning.org.