Holocaust survivor Iby Knill is shown round the site

BUILDING work on the new Holocaust Heritage and Learning Centre (HHLC), based at the University of Huddersfield, is now firmly underway and the developments have been given the seal of approval by Holocaust survivor Iby Knill after she paid a special visit to view the Centre’s progress.

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Holocaust survivor Iby Knill with Greg Brinkworth Project Manager for HHLC contractors Harry Fairclough ConstructionHolocaust survivor Iby Knill with Greg Brinkworth, Project Manager for HHLC contractors Harry Fairclough Construction

Iby was sent to Auschwitz by the Nazis in June 1944 and her story is to feature in the exhibition.  Now 93-years-old, she recently received an Honorary Doctorate of the University of Huddersfield for services to Holocaust commemoration and regularly attends talks around the country spreading awareness about the atrocities that occurred.

Also to be included are photographs, digital testimonies, records of persecution, family letters and artefacts that will focus on the experience of Holocaust survivors and refugees from the Nazis – including survivors of the camps and children who came to Britain on the Kindertransports and who found refuge in the North of England.

The Holocaust Heritage and Learning Centre, due to open in Spring 2018, will be the only facility of its type in the North of England and is going to provide 300 square metres of exhibition space plus archival expertise and facilities for school and community education. 

The new Centre has received a total of £1 million in funding, including £604,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and is an initiative of the Leeds-based Holocaust Survivors’ Friendship Association (HSFA) in collaboration with the University of Huddersfield. 

Alongside the main exhibition the Centre there will be a meeting area, a learning facility and an audio-visual space.  As well as being open to the public it will also play host to pupils, students and community workshops; teacher education programmes; film viewings; and will act as a forum for wider research and discussion.

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Holocaust Heritage and Learnign Centre, HHLCHolocaust Heritage and Learning Centre (HHLC)

Iby was accompanied on the tour by Dr Tracy Craggs, an oral historian and a member of the HSFA who has conducted interviews with Holocaust survivors for the HSFA archive.  These are to be contributed to the exhibition, as well as personal artefacts Dr Craggs has collected from HSFA members.

They were shown around the site by the University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Tim Thornton, HHLC Director Emma King, the University’s Architectural Project Officer Suzanne O’Loughlin and Greg Brinkworth, Project Manager for HHLC contractors Harry Fairclough Construction.

Iby said she was pleased with the Centre’s progress and how even though years have passed it is really important that exhibitions like this are still being created.

“If we don’t build centres like this now, there is going to be a time in a couple of years or more when there aren’t any camp survivors left,” said Iby.  “There will be refugees and Kindertransport, but not camp survivors.  I’m 93 and I’m probably one of the youngest that remembers camps like Auschwitz,” she said.