Map of Poland
In 2006 I was commissioned by the London Assembly to inscribe The Book of Commitment for Holocaust Memorial Day so I equally thrilled to be invited to contribute to the “memory quilt” project. As a professional calligrapher with many years‘ experience of working on a range of commissions , I loved the idea of being able to use my skills to work on something so meaningful. Although I knew it would not be easy to successfully combine a pre-war map of Poland with 350 names to create a pleasing image, I had no idea quite how much of a challenge, nor how moving an experience it would be.When I decided to create the shape of the country with the names, I had to plan it all meticulously to ensure every name was included. No easy task. Then came the actual writing using a broad-edged pen and 5 different paints in “earth” colours. I wanted to give each individual their due respect so changed the colour for each person as I wrote along the line. In consequence my progress was slow and on average only managed 15 names an hour! However it was well worth it to once again be able to play a small part in both commemorating and celebrating the lives of this group of holocaust survivors.
70 years ago I came to England together with 732 youngsters who came to be known affectionately as ‘The Boys’. Most of us had lost families and had similar horrendous experiences. We were housed in hostels and it was here that our friendships began to germinate.
These friendships blossomed when the majority of us came to London and enjoyed the comradeship and facilities of the Primrose Club in Belsize Park that was opened for us in 1947. These friendships matured into bonds of brotherhood when we grew to be adults, created our own families and integrated into local communities. Throughout we have nurtured one another, derived comfort, encouragement, moral support, pleasure and reward. It is the establishment of the ’45 Aid Society that held us together ad provided us with the opportunity to continue as a cohesive group.
Our childhood years were spent in the ghettos, in hiding and in the concentration camps of Nazi occupied Europe. Our teenage years were spent coming to terms with great loss coupled with a new beginning in a new country. Adulthood offered independence and the ’45 Aid Society helped us to keep in close touch. This experience of friendship and brotherhood is our strength; the framework and foundation on which we have built our lives. Our Society has given us a collective voice and offered us the opportunity to show how we have overcome trauma with dignity and independence.
Our experience may have hardened us, made us more realistic about human nature, but it has also left us with a dream. A dream to live in a world of understanding, compassion, fraternity and love for our fellow man. We have brought up our children to share the same dream, to reject hatred and revenge, to reach out with tolerance, to live with integrity and to give of oneself to the community and society.
Chairman ’45 Aid Society Holocaust Survivors‘ ‘