Liverpool RESPECTacles

I would like to draw your attention to an exceptional Holocaust exhibit that was organized in Liverpool, UK. Most Americans only know Liverpool as the origin of the Beatles, but it is a major city and port in England. This year it has been chosen as European Capital of Culture, and was independently selected in a nation-wide competition to host the national Holocaust event in Britain.
One of my most steadfast correspondents is Naomi Kingston, who is an activist in Jewish affairs and a former Headteacher of the King David primary school in Liverpool. RESPECTacles was the brainchild of Holocaust Project Director Jean Evans. She called the main exhibit in the Ballroom of the Town Hall “RESPECTacles” by combining two relevant words. They collected 110,000 pairs of spectacles . The glasses were handed in by people, including many well known personalities, such as Tony and Cherie Blair, Elton John, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono and Daniel Radcliffe (who plays Harry Potter, and is Jewish), and many were sent from other parts of Britain, the USA..and Australia. There was also a dinner that the the Mayor of Liverpool presided at and 700 people sat down to a kosher meal in the St. George’s Ballroom.
The Ballroom in Liverpool Town Hall is mirrored at both ends so 110,000 spectacles gave the appearance of stretching into infinity….they became 330,000 pairs of glasses in the mirrored reflections. At the infamous Wannsee Conference a list was drawn up of all the Jews in Europe intended for extermination. In 1939 there were 330,000 Jews in Britain – and 10,000 unaccompanied Jewish children who arrived on the Kindertransport to safety in Britain.
The exhibit included historic material, some of it lent by local survivors of the Holocaust who had moved to Liverpool and surroundings after WWII. A very special occurence was the unexpected receipt of an e-mail from Sonoma, California, from the nephew of a former British Army officer. He sent a letter that was found among his Aunt’s possessions and only discovered when she died. This letter was a copy of a typed account of the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen Concentration camp by the British forces, dated May 15, 1945, and signed by Col. H.L.W. Bird.
He described how they had found 23,000 bodies and 28,000 live people in deplorable condition, starving and in rags, of whom more than 6,000 subsequently died despite attempts to save them. The reading of this unexpected historical record brought tears to many eyes.
Great honor should go to Jean Evans, Naomi Kingston and many others who played vital roles in organizing this memorable 2008 national British commemoration of the Holocaust. To see a full report of this exhibition and event click on:


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