HMD 2020 in Northern Ireland

This film, produced by The Executive Office in conjunction with the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, shows Susan Pollack MBE, Tomáš Reichental and Safet Vukalić BEM share their personal experiences with young people from schools and colleges across Northern Ireland. The film was produced to help mark Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) 2020.

Susan Pollack, who grew up near Budapest in Hungary, spoke of the “horrors that invaded her life” as a young girl as millions of Jews were persecuted across Europe.

A Holocaust survivor who was held at the Auschwitz-Birkenau and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps, she said: “We thought it [the antisemitism (anti-Jewish hatred)] would just blow away, but now we know differently. Nothing goes away unless each and every one of us takes that personal responsibility to stand up. We were doomed.”

Tomáš Reichental, who is originally from Czechoslovakia but now lives in Dublin, is a Holocaust survivor who was imprisoned at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. He didn’t speak about his experiences for more than 50 years, but now tells his story in order to “educate young people and make sure history doesn’t repeat itself.”

Safet Vukalić, a survivor of the genocide in Bosnia in 1995, said: “I am grateful for the children listening to my story and hopefully taking something out of it, and hopefully making a change, making a difference in their own community.”

Also hoping that lessons can be learned from history and applied today, Andy Cole, Director of Good Relations & T:BUC at The Executive Office, added: “In Northern Ireland, in a post-conflict society, we are moving forward, and that journey of building a shared society needs to be free from intolerance, from hatred and from discrimination.”

Filmed at 12 venues across Northern Ireland in October 2019, the video also shows young people from schools and colleges react to the survivors’ powerful stories and comment on the importance of lessons being learned from the past.