Comment

Torn from home: Meeting Child Holocaust survivor, Joan Salter MBE

Sophie Arias investigates the theme of 'Torn from Home' and describes her experience volunteering as a Youth Advocate for Holocaust Memorial Day

Freedom is fundamental to our human rights, according to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. We are created to be free and to act freely. Our human rights may not free us from our daily responsibilities like paying rent or meeting a deadline, but they do provide us with comfort, security and of course freedom.

Dame Margaret Hodge and Sophie Arias

Genocide tears people away from their home and strips them away from their human rights”

Home should thus be a symbol of our human rights. Our sense of home is relative, but we would all agree that it is a place or even a state of mind, that provides us with comfort, security, and most importantly, freedom. Genocide tears people away from their home and strips them away from their human rights.

This January 27th, I volunteered as a ‘Youth Advocate’ for the Holocaust Memorial Day. “Torn from Home” is the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust’s topic focus as we remember those torn from their homes during the Holocaust, those under Nazi persecution like (disabled, gay, Jehovah witnesses etc), Rwanda, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Darfur and Cambodia.

“she was the MP who challenged Jeremy Corbyn on Anti-Semitism”

I was assigned the role of ‘lift duty’, where I had to escort MPs such as Dame Margaret Hodge. She was so lovely to me, considering that I mistook her for a survivor. Then when I eventually realised that she was the MP who challenged Jeremy Corbyn on Anti-Semitism, we had a conversation about it. Then to get out of the lift to bump into Corbyn himself. How awkward?!

Joan Salter MBE and Sophie Arias

I also had the honour of meeting survivors of genocide, such as Joan Salter MBE, whose story I found so intriguing. She was imprisoned with her mother at the age of 3. She was then sent on a traumatic journey to America, as the Vichy (French) government promised safe passage to children of Polish parents. Then at the age of 7, she was reunited with her parents. But her experience was ‘not a fairy-tale ending but anything but’.

“I spent the next ten years living between my two families, becoming more and more confused as to who I really was. Nobody’s adolescence is easy; mine was a nightmare”

She says ‘my parents were broken in health, spirit and mind… and were ill-equipped to deal with the return of their angry and alienated children. I spent the next ten years living between my two families, becoming more and more confused as to who I really was. Nobody’s adolescence is easy; mine was a nightmare.’

Sophie Arias and Holocaust Memorial ‘Youth Board”

“I was really moved by her story, as students we may find ourselves divided between two homes; at university and at home”

I was really moved by her story, as students we may find ourselves divided between two homes; at university and at home. As exciting as university is, I sometimes find myself exhausted from trying to keep up with everything at uni. From balancing coursework, society responsibilities, friends, a part time job etc, I can sometimes forget who I am. But I have the privilege of being able to talk to my closest friends and to call parents, whom put everything into perspective for me. And now I wake up every day thanking God for the wonderful life he has given me and the people he has blessed me with. For me; my family and friends are my home.

Sophie Arias and Sadiq Khan

Joan inspires me so much; to be torn between not only two families, but a family who are deeply traumatised by the Holocaust, as well as to be torn between two nations and two languages. Then to find herself and tell her story, this Is truly remarkable!

“Nottingham Student Union have collaborated with HET (Holocaust Educational Trust) and HMDT (Holocaust Memorial Day Trust) to welcome Joan Salter MBE, who will be coming to the University of Nottingham to talk to us about her incredible story”

I’m incredibly excited to announce that the Nottingham Student Union have collaborated with HET (Holocaust Educational Trust) and HMDT (Holocaust Memorial Day Trust) to welcome Joan Salter MBE, who will be coming to the University of Nottingham to talk to us about her incredible story! This event will take place on:

Wednesday 20th February, B63 Law and Social Science Building, 6:30- 8:00pm

For more information on the Holocaust and other genocides, please visit: https://www.hmd.org.uk

Sophie Arias

Article image 1 courtesy of Sophie Arias.

Article image 2 courtesy of Sophie Arias.

Article image 3 courtesy of Sophie Arias.

Article image 4 courtesy of Sophie Arias.

Article image 5 courtesy of SU Jacob Collier and SU Katie Clubb.

Featured image courtesy of Jon Olav Eikenes via Flickr. Image license found here.

Follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page for more articles and information on how to get involved.

Categories
CommentFeaturesVoices

Leave a Reply