To commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day archivist and historian Frank Meeres is giving a free talk on Thursday 28 January, at 1pm in the Norfolk Record Office looking at the lives of four Norfolk women who either experienced the horrors of the holocaust or risked their life to protect others.
Archivist Frank Meeres, said: “These fascinating stories tell of lives lost or forever changed due to direct involvement with the holocaust. I know local people are often amazed to learn that the holocaust is not just something that happened far away, but did involve people born and brought up here in Norfolk.Listeners will hear the moving story which led to Constance dying, either on her way to or at Sobibor concentration camp. Her husband Saloman was gassed at Sobibor on 28 May 1943 and their son Alfred died in Auschwitz the following year on 28 January 1944. Constance’s sister Joyce was also living in occupied Holland, and listeners will hear moving descriptions from her own letters of life there – and the dramatic story of her escape.
Visitors will also be able to see Elsie Mary Bell’s memoir which offers a moving and tragic account of her and her daughter’s wartime experiences.
Elsie was raised in Great Yarmouth and trained as a teacher in Norwich later taught in London where she met and married a Belgian soldier. Elsie then moved to Brussels where she lived with her husband Georges Marechal and children Elsie and Robert. They were there when Belgium was invaded by the Germans on 10 May 1940.
The Marechals became actively involved in helping Allied soldiers to escape from the Nazis but tragedy befell the family in 1943 when Georges was shot and Elsie and her daughter then spent the rest of the war in Nazi prisons and concentration camps.
And Frank will talk about Elsie Tilney, a Norwich-born woman who was in France during the war, and who saved a Jewish man from the horrors of Auschwitz, an act of courage for which she is formally recognised by Israel.
‘Keep the Memory Alive’: Norfolk Women and the Holocaust, is in the Green Room in The Archive Centre, next to County Hall at 1-2pm on Thursday 28 January. Entrance is free and no booking is required.
For more information on this and other events at Norfolk Record Office visit www.archives.norfolk.gov.uk and read A History of Jewish Persecution in Bury St Edmunds for more local history.