The families of Shoah survivors are creating a ‘memory quilt’ to mark next year’s 70th anniversary of liberation.
Of the 1.5 million children who suffered the horrors of the Holocaust, only a tiny number survived.
Of that tiny number, Britain took in only a fraction after the war.
Mainly based up in the Lake District, this group of 732 children, who became known as “The Boys”, were resettled from orphanages in Eastern Europe.
About 80 of them were girls, and they formed a tight-knit group of friends, bonded by a terrible shared experience almost beyond imagination.
They formed the ‘45 Aid Society to provide support for each other and to campaign for other charitable causes.
Their harrowing story – of ghettos, concentration camps, death marches and hiding – has since been retold, by historian Sir Martin Gilbert, among others, in his book The Boys.
Now, to mark next year’s 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camps, the survivors’ descendants have launched an ambitious project to create a memory quilt, for every one of the 732 children, as an act of commemoration.
“Our parents have deputed to us the responsibility of guarding their testimony, bearing vicarious witness to their life stories and of remembering the lives that were destroyed,” said the Second Generation Group in a statement.
“To keep alive the memories of events from the Holocaust, people must be reminded of the facts.”
The team, including a newly-formed group of volunteers, are reaching out to the survivors and their descendants around the world, gathering together contributions and planning the display of the finished piece.
The memory quilt group has held workshops at Jewish Care’s Holocaust Survivors’ Centre in Hendon, where they meet to discuss ideas and the creative process with members of the second and third generation, who are making squares for their parents and grandparents.. “This is an important project to commemorate the lives of the survivors,” said Second Generation member Julia Burton.
“We are delighted to have recruited a team of volunteers, though Jewish Care, who have a passion for needlework and are able to help with some of the quilt squares.”
Since the project launch and a series of creative workshops, untold stories have been coming in from survivors and their families.
Organisers say these are “stories of miraculous survival through one of the darkest periods of human history, stories of bravery in overcoming hardships to rebuild lives and create strong families anew”.
The survivors’ children hope that, by recounting their parents’ testimonies, lessons will be learned to benefit future generations.
“The memory quilt is going to be a powerful legacy for generations to come,” adds Julia.
• For details, or to help with the quilt creation, email second firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.45aidsociety.co.uk