A Holocaust survivor living in Britain is to feature in a documentary about human rights after an organisation led by a Jewish barrister raised £20,000 through crowdfunding.
The video, scheduled to be finished later this year, is the latest initiative of RightsInfo, a non-profit organisation founded in 2015 by Adam Wagner, a barrister specialising in human rights. Its mission is to increase knowledge of and support for human rights through engaging social media and video.
It will feature Ruth Barnett, who left Germany in 1939 aged four, who will speak about her experiences alongside Kemal Pervanic, a Muslim Bosnian survivor of the notorious Omarska concentration camp, and Eric Murangwa, a former Rwandan international footballer who lost 35 members of his family in the Rwandan genocide.
Ruth was born Ruth Michaelis in 1935 in Berlin and in 1939, aged four, she came to Britain on the Kindertransport with her seven-year-old brother, subsequently living with three foster families.
Ruth’s father, who was Jewish, escaped to Shanghai while her mother, who was not Jewish, remained in Germany and took part in the Rosenstraße protest in Berlin in which around 200 non-Jewish German women married to Jewish men demonstrated outside a building where their husbands had been interned by the Gestapo.
In 1949 Ruth was repatriated to Germany against her will on a court order, but found the unknown country terrifying and was back in Britain within a year. She later married her Jewish boyfriend and converted to Judaism.
The stories of Ruth, Kemal and Eric will now be told as part of the #FightingHateWithRights project, which grew from the most recent Limmud, when Wagner gave a session on the Nuremberg Trials and how they led to the birth of modern human rights laws.
“The session was well received so I wrote a script for a short video for Holocaust Memorial Day along the same themes,” he said. “It went viral and has been viewed six and a half million times. The new project will expand on those themes which clearly speak to people in the current uncertain political climate.”
The campaign, of which the video will be the centrepiece, launches on International Day of Tolerance on 16 November, and Wagner says the message is that “we can fight extremism by promoting and protecting basic human rights”.
He adds: “The focus will be the process of denial of rights which leads to genocide. Hatred and genocide are not alien or distant; they are clear and present dangers in any society where hatred is allowed to breed and proliferate.”