The Perse School

Faces in the Void

9 Nov 2015

Today the School welcomed poet Jane Liddell-King and photographer Marion Davies, to hear about their fascinating research and creative responses to remembrance of the Holocaust.

This comes on the day that commemorates Kristallnacht – when on November 9 1938, Nazis in Germany destroyed synagogues, Jewish homes and businesses, and imprisoned thousands of Jews.

Jane was inspired by the Czech Torah scroll that is used by her Cambridge synagogue, and so took a journey with Marion to its original home in Pardubice in the Czech Republic, once a thriving Jewish community near Prague, whose entire population was deported to Terezin concentration camp. There, they set on a quest to meet survivors of the Holocaust in the town, many of whom were just teenagers at the time, to learn about their experiences of this harrowing period of history. Their work combines both poetry and photography to convey these survivors’ stories.

They spoke of one survivor they met whose father, upon their arrival at Terezin, drew his son a map of the camp so that he would not get lost during their time there. They also shared photographs of the magazines he and other children produced in Terezin, whose education had been taken away from them. Students also heard the story of Liska, who told Jane and Marion the story of the leather boots she was bought by her mother, which lasted for the three years she spent doing hard labour in Terezin. A link between the Czech Republic and the UK also unearthed during their research, as they learned of the story of Czech-born Josef Horak who moved to England after his family was affected by Nazi atrocities. Here, he met an Englishwoman whom he married and had children with.

These stories told through Jane’s poetry and Marion’s photographs captivated the audience, and were a fascinating means through which to learn of some of the individual stories of bravery and tragedy in this dark period of history.

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